Capturing Cyclists at 26 mph

ironman-logoHave you ever been a spectator at a sporting event where the athletes are going so fast by you that you want to say – hey pause that one. 

Well I thought I would try out being the camera gal for such an event and capture some moments you might miss as an onlooker.  I call them “fly bys”.

There is an event sweeping the county country called Ironman 70.3. It began as a challenge between groups of Navy Seals and has grown to become one of the most recognized endurance events in the world. Race distance includes a 1.2 mi. swim • 56 mi. bike • 13.1 mi. run by men.

When filming a big event, like the Ironman, there will always be a big crowd of spectators to cheer on the athletes as they go by. If you’re the one filming, and you’re trying to catch these cyclists, the crowd could sometimes get right in your view. So Tip #1; bring a ladder because when you are high off the ground, people will not get in your shot and you will have a clear shot as the cyclists fly by.

So, this may sound a little odd but if you are filming and you want to talk to some of the athletes, or just get a better shot at some of them, there is a certain hot spot where you can catch a lot of bikers. Whenever there is a rest stop/pit stop for an event, a port-a-potty is always provided, and trust me, biker’s will use them. So, Tip #2; if you want to capture the actual athletes on film, or ask them a question, stand by the port-a-potty, it’s the perfect place for all the action.

There is always a group of athletes who are faster than the rest of the participants in the event. These groups of athletes are the ones who are very serious about an event like this, and are hoping to take a high place, or even win it all! Tip #3; always be at your location early, and make sure to catch the first group of bikers flying by, they have a high chance of winning it all.

DanWnorowskiThe bike portion of the event is 56 miles, wow that’s a lot! This year at the penalty box, two Army soldiers were stationed as volunteers. Tip #4; if possible, take some useful mini clips of your surroundings. Make it fun if you can, we got the army men to bob their heads up and down to the music, as they scan the bikes left and right, like the heads in a tennis match.

Something else happened along the way as I was filming the event, a personal side of the story. Dan is a 53 year old man and this was his third 70.3.  March 2011, right between Ironman 2 and 3 for Dan, he got a blood clot in his leg.  Being a knee replacement doctor himself he did his own Doppler test finding the clot. More tests at Dan’s request, found Lymphoma (cancer of the lymph nodes) in both of Dan’s lungs.  Now he was being told by the doctor, stop all exercise, rest, and go to chemo every 3 weeks.  For a guy who had worked out his whole life mountain climbing, biking, running, swimming this was not good.  He decided to visit Dr. George from the Dana-Farber cancer institute in Boston.  He lives by her advice, “Try to live a normal life.” It has been hills and valley’s ever since for Dan with day 3 after chemo treatments being a day of nausea and tiredness but working out is the best medicine.  Luckily for this race, he was in a valley being 3 days before his next treatment.  It takes him one hour longer to get through the 70.3 and he can feel his legs giving out on the run because oxygen just does not flow with lower white and red blood cell counts, but he finishes!   He dittos Dr. George’s advise and to also “Live for today and pack as much as you can in one day!”  If you want to email Dan and wish him well, his email is (He likes that).

I am hoping when I become a “real” sports journalist one day, after the whole college thingy, that I find more personal sides of the stories because Dan said sometimes all it takes to lift your spirits is one person to ask, “…how are things going for you now?”  Today this story is that “one person”.


JordanWorkingJordan Rice is a junior in High School in upstate New York. She is a member of the National Honor Society, a member of Cortland County Youth Leadership, Co-Captain of the Varsity Cheerleading Squad, part of the Rotary Youth Leadership, a member of drama club where she acts in school plays, and treasurer of French club.

She is Editor of her school’s district newspaper The Lion's Roar sent to 1,900 readers. Jordan has been published in 2011 and 2012 in the Syracuse Post Standard for Student Voices. Some School Video News blogs include stories with the New York Giants, Orange County Choppers, Ironman 70.3, and Courtside to Get the Shot at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Jordan hopes to attend college to pursue a career in sports journalism.