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Capturing Inspiration
17th October 2019 By Jack Wallis

There have been some incredible sporting achievements in the last 50 years from Roger Federer’s record 20 grand slam wins to Usain Bolt’s 100m world record. This weekend another sporting achievement was added to the list.

On October 12th Eliud Kipchoge ran a full marathon in less than two hours. Not so long ago, just the possibility of breaking the two-hour mark seemed unachievable. On Saturday, we were witness to that something beyond imagination. Media Zoo were lucky enough to have members of the team on the ground in Vienna to capture this monumental occasion. Ben Barnett a self-shooting director here at Media Zoo was there on the finish line to see Kipchoge cross the line. We asked him some questions on how it felt to be there and to experience this sporting feat: 

Was there a particular moment/reaction/emotion you were looking to capture?

There are always going to be hundreds of cameras at events like this.  We had to concentrate on what we needed and not get distracted by the excitement of it all - harder than it sounds!  We look at where all the other cameras are pointing and find the gaps that are going to be relevant to the client’s brief.  

What did it feel like to be there at such a poignant moment for sporting success

It was such a positive, international, supportive vibe.  There isn't really any element of competition, it's just Eliud and the clock.  Everyone there just wanted to help Eliud achieve something remarkable. Sir Jim Ratcliffe maintained that the crowd would be the deciding factor in all this, and I think he was absolutely right. Eliud himself seems such a lovely person, and I think his attitude and personality, in this age of mega stars, is really refreshing.  There is nothing to not like about Eliud - he's a fantastic role model and I think a very easy person to get behind and cheer on. People were quite emotional at the finish line, not MZ crew though, we had to make sure that it was all in focus.

What was the atmosphere like throughout the day? Could you sense some tension or was everyone pretty calm?

The race started at 0815, so it was a bit early for tension to build.  However, we were on location at 07:00, and you could certainly get a sense of anticipation, it was eerily quiet. I've been across this project since its inception, and I always felt that Eliud would do it, I think as soon as he started running a lot of people just had a good feeling - he looked so comfortable and in control. Three years ago Nike tried to do the same thing, but with three athletes, not one. INEOS and their performance team scrutinised every detail from that attempt and improved on it, plus they have some serious sporting legends on their team to give extra insight and expertise. I figured that as long as Eliud felt good, INEOS had given him the best possible chance.  Also, the support was amazing, it was a long course, but by 09:00, people lined the whole route.

What has it been like to follow this journey and be able to capture the final moment?

Ha! I didn't actually see him cross the line, I was pointing my camera at Sir Jim and Eliud's family. It's been a great privilege to be involved in the small way that I have been. 

Were there any moments where you were fighting to capture that all important moment across the line or was everyone civilised? (I saw on the coverage there were some elbows when the photographers were trying to get photos of him under his time).

The course is reserved for official photographers and press.  We were in the pen with the pacers. Sunset & Vine were the production company covering the event, and we knew that they were going to do a great job and would have hundreds of cameras trained on Eliud.  In those instances I find it better to stand back, survey the scene, and then choose your angle. As soon as Eliud crossed the line, the event team were battling to hold the crews back and let Eliud have a moment with those closest to him, but pretty quickly it turned into a massive scrum.  The pace keepers couldn't wait to get to Eliud and give him a big hug. They were literally jumping up and down with excitement.   

How did it feel to attempt to reciprocate that speed at your half marathon when you got back from the race? Did it give you a little bit extra motivation?

I think it's brilliant that Eliud is promoting this message of pushing and believing in yourself.  Look at what happened days later when Brigid Kosgei broke the female WR. I like to think that her fellow countryman gave her a little inspiration and a bit of a boost.  I definitely had Eliud's achievement in mind when I was running on Sunday, not sure it made much difference to my time, but it has made a difference to my mindset. 

Although Kipchoge’s time is not an official record as it was not performed under competition conditions it is still an incredible achievement. Now we know it's possible to achieve a sub 2-hour marathon someone will break it in a competition, probably Kipchoge himself. Until then Eliud Kipchoge’s achievement should not be overlooked, not only the physical achievement but the promotion of self-belief in being able to achieve a near impossible task.  




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