London Marathon

Post length: 1,086 words, almost 5 minutes.

The 2009 London Marathon took place on the 26th April and I decided I’d go for a day out with my cameras (apparently I do the same thing for fun as I do for work).  It’s the second time I’ve been to the Marathon.  After my pretty successful visit last year I decided I’d try to catch it in different places, so on Saturday night I sat down with a map of the route, the estimated runners times, and a bit of paper and planned my own journey for the day.

The plan was to meet the runners around mile 9 just past Canada Water, and then jump back on the tube and go to Bermondsey then Westferry, Poplar and finish off at Embankment.  This quickly went out of the window.  I arrived at Canada Water in good time and made my way around to Canada Street just in front of the Standard’s press building.  At first the crowds were a little too deep to get any good coverage so I wandered down the road the way the runners were going.  After a short distance the spectators thinned out and I managed to get some shots in.  A little further down the road I came across my first water station.

Last year all the water stations I came across were fenced off and without a route pass I couldn’t get very close, but this year I managed to get up close and personal with a couple of them.  One benefit of having professional equipment at events like this is that people often just assume you’re doing something official and either don’t question you when you’re in a slightly strange place, or actually get out of the way for you.  This happened a few times with the water stations and I got some good pictures from right in the middle of the action.

Having come this far from Canada Water I decided to press on a little further rather than fight my way back past the crowds again.  While I did have my own plan on me with tube stops marked, I didn’t get it out to check and just walked on.  In the end I walked about 3 miles from Canada Water to Bermondsey by which time I was really hot, pretty tired and well behind schedule.  At Bermondsey I bought myself a bottle of water and took stock.  It was too late to get to Westferry on time so I decided to ditch that step.  The previous year I’d had a bad experience with changing on the DLR so decided I didn’t want to try that again and decided to skip Poplar as well.  That left me just with Embankment, so I set off there.

I decided to head to Westminster and walk back along Victoria Embankment rather than change to the District or Circle line to Monument or anything partly because it would give me more time above ground on the Marathon route, and partly to see if I could get any interesting shots of the current protests in Parliament Square along side the runners.  So I headed up to the surface.  On the way up it amused me that London Underground were making announcements about the best exit to use for the protests — customers for the protests should use exit three.  Once I got out I had a look around.  Slightly sadly I couldn’t get anywhere near the protests because of the police cordon, so I decided to head back the other way.  Just as I was turning back to walk towards the Houses of Parliament and around the top of the Marathon route I was approached by a foreign visitor who asked me to take their photograph in front of Big Ben.  This I did but made a bit of a mess of — I managed to cut the top off the tower.  She probably thought that someone who looked like a press photographer would be able to take a decent photo and I felt bad not framing it right, but I decided it wasn’t exactly the right time to spend a couple of minutes getting it all right.  That takes my tourist photo taking to 2 (the other being outside of Buckingham Palace).  I wonder how many other professional photographers have had this pleasure.

Anyway, I wandered down Victoria Embankment looking for interesting things to get pictures of but was pretty disappointed.  The crowds were too heavy to get to the road most of the time and where I could there wasn’t much of interest to photograph, so most of the pictures I got on this section were of supporters.  I walked a good mile down the road and back again although pretty much gave up taking pictures on the way back.  Once I got back to Westminster station I tried once more to get a reasonable picture of runners and protests but still couldn’t.  I wandered onto Parliament Street and sat down for a while — by this time I was hot and tired.  I thought I’d head back to Waterloo on the tube to save pushing through the crowds.  The entrances to the station on the junction with Parliament Street were exit only, so I decided to head back to the entrance next to the mini Tesco.  Unfortunately as I tried to get back on to the road by Parliament Square I was met by a policeman telling me it was closed.  At this point I have to say that, despite all the complaints the press have with the Met, he was very polite about it (I know I wasn’t working, but knowing what’s been alleged by photographers of their experiences with the police it does skew your expectations a little).  It was, however, a little irritating:  if you know that area of London you might know that it’s a long walk back down Parliament Street onto Whitehall before you can turn right again and get back to Victoria Embankment, cross the river and get back to Waterloo.

By the time I got back home I couldn’t be bothered to sort out the pictures and instead went to bed.  I’ve still not sorted them out.  It makes me glad I’m not in the editorial market — I don’t think I could be bothered to turn these things around in such a short time — at least in my area of work I can just flop when I get in from a shoot and sort the rest of it out the next day!

Posted on Thursday 7th May, 2009 at 12:08 am in Obiter dicta, Photography.
It was tagged with , , , , , .

Leave a comment