Kyoto City Half Marathon
Oh S * * t! Stop.... stop, please stop! -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/350 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Oh S**t!
Stop.... stop, please stop!

Hahaha, it's not really such a dire moment in the photo above....

Today is the Kyoto City Half Marathon, which starts and ends near my place, so I walked out to take a look at the start. The picture above shows the front of the pack 30 seconds after the start of the race, passing under the main gate of the Heian Shrine. (The part of the shrine that can be seen in the far background — the roof of the entry building — is very familiar to me, having spent hours looking at it while doing some Photoshop work on a friend's family photo.)

Anyway, it's not a worrisome moment for the man holding out his arms because they're approaching the first turn, and indeed, negotiate it without trampling him (and me, and the throngs of other camera-toting dorks beside me).

195 meters down, only 20,902 more to go... -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
195 meters down, only 20,902 more to go...
Main Crush of Runners -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 55mm — 1/320 sec, f/9, ISO 160 — map & image datanearby photos
Main Crush of Runners

It took only four minutes for the 6,300 runners to pass. (I've heard that at some big races, it can take 15 minutes just to reach the starting line.)

A few minutes earlier, they had the start for the wheelchair racers, who were piloting very sleek-looking vehicles:


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 34mm — 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image data
Wheelchair racers hitting the first turn

Turning the camera a bit toward the left, it was somewhat funny to see that the organizers had some crash-cushions set up, just in case. (See yellow in the picture below)


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/350 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Crash padding

Considering, though, the very specific placement of the relatively small padding along the huge arc of the curve where an athlete might fly off course, I've got to think that they're working from experience here, which makes it a bit less funny. No one needed the crash barriers this time, which is not surprising considering the professional look of the competitors.

I used to be a runner, until I got smart about 20 years ago and gave it up. Still, I remember enough to know that it'll be a mixed-feeling course. It has a lot of pleasant scenery, and long, unpleasant grades. The Kyoto valley slopes gently down from north to south... gently, that is, in a car. The first half of the race is mostly uphill, with a few lateral sections of flatness. On top of that, there's a very strong wind today — strong enough to blow traffic cones around — that they'll be running directly into for the first half, while running uphill.

On the positive side, the last third is all downhill, with the strong tailwind.

The race is open to those 18 and over, although for some reason, those in high school, regardless of age, are excluded. They shut down the course at the two-hour mark, so you've got to be able to keep up a 9-min/mile pace for 13 miles.

According to Wikipedia at the moment, the women's world record for the half marathon was set at this event in 1995, 1997, and 1998, although the current world record was set in Tokyo, in 1999. With today's wind, I don't think any records will be set.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 38mm — 1/400 sec, f/10, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Waiting for the Start

The middle of the road at the first turn was clearly a wonderful vantage point for photographs, and so it was there that I was standing with a small throng of photographers at the start of the race. The guy with the Kyoto City Marathon hat in the photo above was standing on a small stepladder. You can't see much of it there, but he's got a beefy Canon 400mm f/2.8 prime that I had to take a picture of.

Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L II -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2007 Jeffrey Eric Francis Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 38mm — 1/320 sec, f/9, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Canon EF 400mm f/2.8 L II

This is an older lens that's no longer available, but the current version with image stabilization runs for $6,500. Yikes!

The guy on the other side of me had a taller ladder. The lens on his spare body looks to be the same Nikon 70-200 f/2.8 VR zoom that I have.


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/250 sec, f/8, ISO 320 — full exif & mapnearby photos
Higher perspective

Of course, some people have to show off and bring their really pro stuff, like the following guy's idea of a ladder:


Nikon D200 + Nikkor 17-55 f/2.8 @ 17mm — 1/750 sec, f/14, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Much higher perspective

It was cold, blustery, and rainy in the morning, but it was clearing up and the sun came out soon after the start. It's still cold and blustery, but scenery wise, I'm sure it's going to be a pleasant race. Scenery wise, at least.


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