A Fast and Fabulous Guide to Your Most Awesome Race Photos Ever!

So you might have already guessed from reading my race reports that I am the kind of runner who sets goals based on personal improvement rather than competition. I am not, never have been, and probably never will be the runner that wins the race, although I might occasionally score a nice little age group award pint glass or a Starbucks gift card on days when no one fast shows up. I’m totally cool with this. There is no doubt in my mind that what I lack in speed I make up for in fun. All that said, there is one aspect of racing that I ALWAYS dominate…the photo shoot. That’s right friends, whether it’s a mid-race action shot or an after-party team photo, I guarantee you I’ve got  a facial expression, theme, or pose that’s  so ridiculously over-the-top enthusiastic you won’t be able to resist hitting the “like”, “share”, and/ or “retweet” button when it shows up in your newsfeed. And guess what? I have put together this handy little guide with a few tips for adding a little extra awesome to your running pics. Sit back and enjoy the ride if you will…

You’re Doing it Wrong”: Common Race Pic Faux Pas

Before we delve into to strategies for nailing a fabulous race pic every time, let’s talk about common bad race photo scenarios to be avoided at all costs…

The Narcoleptic Marathoner

The Narcoleptic Marathoner

Seriously, how do you fall asleep while you’re running?!?

The Zombie Apocalypse

The Zombie Apocalypse

The T Rex, also known to some as "Mixmaster J".

The T Rex, also known as “Mixmaster J”.

As it turns out, T Rex not only hates push ups, he also hates the final miles of a half marathon and/ or 8K.

"What do you mean this isn't a RACE WALKING marathon?!?!"

“What do you mean this isn’t a race walking marathon?!?!”

Come on folks, at least make an effort to actually be running for the race photographer.

Holy crap, this race is full of shit!

Holy crap, this race is full of shit!

Ok, so the “Holy crap” one is actually pretty unlikely unless you are, in fact, running a race involving giant piles cow dung, (and yes, that’s really what’s happening here.) But seriously y’all, how awesome is this photo?!?

And just because you've crossed the finish line doesn't necessarily mean your safe from bad the curse of the bad race pics.

And just because you’ve crossed the finish line doesn’t necessarily mean your safe from bad the curse of the bad race pics.

Yes friends, this amazing photo was captured by the official race photographer. Apparently he was so enamored with how fantastically  hilarious my teammates looked that he neglected to snap a pic of me crossing the finish line. This was all  for the best because (a) this picture is possibly the best thing I’ve ever seen. Ever.  And (b), this turned out to be one of those yak-all-over-the-finish-line type of days for me.  So be grateful that you were spared THAT unfortunate race pic!

Tips for Stepping Up Your Race Pics Game

1. Abandon All Hope of Looking Normal, Natural, and/or Pretty.

Instead I recommend the over-the-top, hyperbolically enthusiastic, this-race-is-the-best-effing-thing-that-ever-happened-to-me face, which is best served up with some sort of enthusiastic, always (mostly) HR appropriate hand gesture.  Here are some super-excited-face/ hand gesture combos that I have found to be particularly clutch for pulling off the extra-awesome race day snaps…

The Double Thumbs Up…

The Double Thumbs Up...

The Double Thumbs Up…

Far too cheesy to be unflattering.

Furthermore, the double thumbs up has the power to make you look like you are having tons of fun even after only barely surviving the most epic marathon blow up of your life.

Furthermore, the double thumbs up has the power to make you look like you are having tons of fun even after only barely surviving the most epic marathon blow up EVER.

The above photo was taken immediately after I crossed the finish line of the most heinous running experience of my life.  For reals, it was one of those days when I would frequently stop and sit in the (sketchy Eastern European) porta-johns just because that seemed like a more pleasant thing to be doing than running. At approximately mile 25 I watched myself  progressively vomit up EVERYTHING I had eaten in the last 48 hours. I can’t think of another time when  I have experienced such utter physical bodily rebellion against the act of running. But you would never in a million years guess any of that when you look at this pic because everything about my facial expression and body language says “That was  more fun than hugging 50 puppies!!!”. This picture is perhaps my greatest personal victory of that vile marathon experience. The double thumbs up is truly a powerful thing.

The Victory Arms…

The Victory Arms...

A fabulous montage of The Victory Arms in action.

Use The Victory Arms in your action shots to convince your race photo viewers that you are surely winning the race, even if you are actually still miles from the finish line.

Your Very Own Official Team Hand Gesture…

Show love for your local running club/ team with an official team hand gesture.

Show love for your local running club/ team with an official team hand gesture.

I live and run in Durham, NC, affectionately known to it’s residents as “The Bull City”. Furthermore, I work at Durham’s favorite local running store which is appropriately named Bull City Running Company. Thus, the store’s racing team’s official trademarked team hand gesture is the legendary “Bull Hands” pictured above.  It is easy to see that this official team hand gesture adds significant extra fun and badass-ness to our race photos. Because it is so intimidating (and probably also because we’re from Durham) people sometimes assume the Bull Hands represent some sort of gang affiliation. I like to believe that striking fear in the hearts of other local teams only stands to give us an extra competitive edge. So get out there and have fun coming up with your own custom group hand gesture. From time to time you my get some “WTF?!?” looks from your fellow runners, but don’t sweat those haters. You are absolutely having more fun than they are and you can rest assured that your race snaps are infinitely more exciting than theirs.

Haters gonna hate, but there's no denying that this is awesome.

Haters gonna hate, but there’s no denying that this is awesome.

2. Accessorize.

Accessories play a key role in setting you apart from the crowd.

Accessories play a key role in setting you apart from the crowd.

I think it’s pretty obvious that if you want to have awesome race pics, you are going to have to put a little effort into quite literally covering yourself with awesomeness. Accessories play a key roll in setting you apart from the crowd in your photos. My list of standard must-have high-visibility accessories includes brightly colored compression wear, Shwings (which are wings for your shoes), thematic nail polish (I have a mandatory two color minimum), my Picky Bars sweat band (Lauren Fleshman took it off of HER OWN WRIST and gave to me, y’all!), all things sparkly, and as many temporary tattoos as possible. It is important to note that there are no temporary tattoos featured in the photo of my favorite accessories above, because I used up the last 19 I had in my recent 4th of July 5K.

Remember, when it comes to temporary tattoos, spare no expense!

Remember, there is just no such thing as too many temporary tattoos!

I also try to add additional themed accessories to my race day outfit whenever possible. So far my favorites are the tutu with matching head piece and the patriotic fascinator (pictured above along with some of my 19 temporary tats). More on the importance of themes in the paragraphs to come… So don’t get lost in the crowd. Stop what you are doing right now and get yourself down to the nearest Claire’s and/or Michael’s to buy up all the sparkly, tacky goodness so you can stand out like the superstar that you are!

3. Pick  a Theme…

I have always loved a good themed event. A younger, cooler, more fun version of myself was notorious for throwing kick-ass theme parties on the regular. The debatably “more grown up” me (who uses the term “more grown up” very loosely) is considerably less inclined to throw a raging Golf Pros and Tennis Hos party, but still incorporates the element of theme into her race photos on a regular basis. (At no other point in this blog post will I refer to myself in the third person, I promise.)  So here is a little theme inspiration for you…

Don’t Be Afraid to Make Someone Else’s Theme Your Own…

Sometimes it is easiest to simply borrow someone else’s theme. This is why I generally make it a point to have my picture made with anyone dressed in an extravagant costume at a race. *Note: Do not be shy about approaching people who are thematically dressed for photo ops. They are dressed up because they WANT people to ask to have their pictures taken with them. You are only bringing them joy and validation in making such a request. Don’t think of it as approaching oddly dressed strangers. Instead, seize the opportunity to be spontaneous, make new friends, and most importantly, score some fantastic race pics.

 Here are some of the better dress-up themes I’ve encountered over the course of my illustrious career as an amazing race photo connoisseur…



Mr. Go America here ran an entire 5K  on the 4th of July in South Carolina (not exactly a state know for its cool and comfortable 4th of July temperatures). Mad respect, dude! ‘Merica done be proud!

Pirates vs. Marathoners

Pirates vs. Marathoners

Who doesn’t love a good pirate themed marathon?!? I am on the hunt for a good ninja themed marathon to balance it out. Holla if you know of one.

Turtle Power!

Turtle Power!

Speaking of ninjas,these heroes in a half shell may have us in the creative dress department, but they didn’t stand a chance against us in the race! Next year we will be sweeping both the running part and the costume contest. Say your prayers, Ninja Turtles!

Theme Park Races…

You may also want to try doing a race in a THEME park. In my (limited) theme park racing experience it seemed that people who were not heavily accessorized and/ or dressed utterly ridiculously were in the minority. Let it be known that this was probably the thing I loved the most about theme park racing. I also found that wearing a tutu and tiara and being surrounded by a sundry Disney characters and fantastical landscapes inspired an exceptionally richly creative post-race photo shoot. Here are some of our best theme park race shots with their respective sub-themes…

"Damn, it feels good to be a gansta."

“Damn, it feels good to be a gansta.”

You know, just living the thug life in the happiest place on earth.

"Pretty Princesses" (It's a no-brainer, I know...)

“Pretty Princesses”

What can I say. When in Rome…

And my personal favorite "Impersonations of popular Olympic athlete's signature photo poses."

And my personal favorite “Impersonations of popular Olympic athlete’s signature photo poses.”

See! I TOLD YOU all the cool kids have their own signature photo shoot  move! 😉

Get Creative…

Don’t sweat it if you don’t live close to a theme park and/or ridiculously dressed race participants kind of creep you out. It is still perfectly acceptable, and in fact, encouraged to get creative and come up with your own photo themes. These themes can be as simple or as complex or as wacky and random as your heart desires! Here are some of my favorite classic race pic themes…

The Animal Kingdom:

Snapping pics like a boss with the King of the Jungle.

Snapping pics like a boss with the King of the Jungle.

It's ok to go a little buck wild every now and then.

It’s ok to go a little buck wild every now and then.


Show a little photo love to real reason you paid money to get up early to run a long way... FREE BEER!

Show a little photo love to real reason you paid money to get up early to run a long way… FREE BEER!

Fun with Fountains:

Add a little fountain flair to your race photos!

Who doesn’t love a little fancy fountain flair?

Synchronized Jumping:

When it comes synchronized jumping pictures, we're kind of big deal!

When it comes synchronized jumping pics, we’re kind of big deal!

Generally, I am not all that into tooting my own horn, so forgive me for what I’m about to type next, but  my friends/ teammates and I pretty much wrote the book on awesome synchronized jumping pictures. Don’t hate us because our jump shots are more syched up than yours.  I think the amazing montage above and the impressive synchronized jumping multi-tasking feat documented below really speak for themselves.

We at Oiselle Team NC have perfected the synchronized jump pic...

The lovely ladies of Oiselle Team NC are especially skilled in the ways of the synchronized jump shot…

Oiselle Team NC Jump with Burger

So much so that we execute it flawlessly, even while enjoying these hearty and delicious Morningstar spicy black bean burgers!

Here’s a little insider tip from the synchronized jumping pic pros: Count up from 1 and JUMP on 3. Instruct your photographer to begin the act of snapping the picture between the numbers 2 and 3. This strategy has afforded me many successfully jumping pics using the cameras of both the iPhone 4 and 5.  Good luck, have fun, and may your jumps be ever synchronized!

My Point, and I Do Have One…

As I conclude this silly little post, you may be wondering if there is a point to it and if so, what that point might be. Well friends, I suppose it is this:  In running and life we should dream big, train hard, get out of our comfort zones, and leave it all out there whether our goal is to win the race or simply to make it to the finish line. Just make sure that it’s not all work and no play. I believe  it is of absolute paramount importance to leave a little room to have some fun, and also to celebrate the hard work, dedication, discipline and accountability that it took to get you to both the start and the finish of whatever race you may be running.  I guarantee that if you implement my proven strategies for race photo enhancement listed above you WILL experience copious amounts of pure, unadulterated kid-on-Christmas-morning-esque fun and celebration which will surely facilitate wonderful and hilarious memories as well as friendships that will last a lifetime. Furthermore, everyone in all of your various social media feeds will most likely want to be you, and that is always a nice perk. You only live once after all, so don’t waste any more time. Get out there and start hamming up those race pics and celebrating your general awesomeness as soon as possible!

Shout Out to My Peeps…

Many thanks to my terrific,  admirably self-confident and secure friends for boldly offering up their least flattering (but most awesome) race pics for use in this post. If that doesn’t epitomize fast and fabulous, well then I do know what does. And even more thanks to those very same friends for making my race photos and the experiences that they represent so truly fantastically fun! Oh, and extra special thanks to the one and only Mixmaster  J and the equally baller Jen D. for inspiring this little race photo anthology. Cheers to many more awesome race pics to come!

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