This year, for the 20th running of SkyRun Presented by Salomon, race photographer Kelvin Trautman will be doing things slightly differently in an effort to capture a lesser seen side of ultra marathon races.
On the 19th of November, Kelvin, who is himself a self-confessed sports junkie, will be joining the competitors on the start line and running the entire 100km route photographing the non-professional, every day average joe’s who make up the majority of the race field in an effort to capture the spirit of the race from a different angle.
“A lot of my work is focused on telling stories of how athletes suffer to win and lose, but in doing this, I seldom get a chance to point the lens at the people who aren’t vying for a podium or first place,” explains Kelvin, who has been the official race photographer for SkyRun for the past 7 years. “It has always been a personal dream of mine to focus the spotlight for a race on those who are giving their all to just finish the race, and hopefully understand what’s driving these unsung heroes to get to both the start and finish line of an ultra marathon. This is a story about the human condition as much as it is about running.”
Over the years of photographing this race, Kelvin has run and photographed specific chunks of the route to get great pics of the front runners, but this will be the first year he will be doing the full route.
“I am a big fan of taking part in the events that I photograph, and tend to gravitate to those assignments or shoot briefs, which demand an equal measure of camera and physical skills – it’s an excuse to run in the mountains!” smiles Kelvin. “Running enjoyment aside though, getting the chance to be with my subjects from start to finish gives me a much better understanding of the emotional and physical nuances of running an ultra marathon, which can only help me tell a more accurate story through my pictures.”
The SkyRun 100km is pure mountain running, and considered by many to be the toughest trail run in Southern Africa, with a variety of terrain from hiking paths, jeep track to literally the side of the mountain. “People who enter this race are not afraid to fail, they are willing to ask really big questions of themselves and their abilities and I really hope I am able to capture this in my images,” explains Kelvin, who anticipates that it will take him around 36hours to finish the race.
Surprisingly, Kelvin’s backpack for the race will only be between 4 and 5kgs – consisting of camera gear, foul weather kit and some food. “Usually it’s a constant battle to try whittle down camera gear weight, but for this project I will only be using one camera body and one lens,” says Kelvin. “My lens choice is a 35mm prime or fixed lens. I chose this lens because I wanted something that would offer a very real look and feel – 35mm is the closest focal length composition to that of the human eye. I also liked the idea of limiting my focal length choice so that I’m forced to be more creative in finding ways and angles to shoot this story – this creative struggle I thought would speak a lot to the physical struggle of running an ultra marathon. As an added bonus, taking one lens means my camera running pack weighs a lot less. Happy days!”
For more information on SkyRun and to follow Kelvin’s journey please visit:
Website – skyrun.co.za
Facebook – SkyRun