Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Hustle up the pictures!

The official Hustle up the Hancock pictures are finally ready after a full day of breathless climbing and then 48 hours of breathless anticipation. Which is actually pretty fast compared to the usual weeks-long wait we have for official pictures after a marathon. Then again, the Hustle organizers took two pictures each of a couple thousand hustlers, while there are usually 10+ pictures each of tens of thousands of marathon runners.

No matter what event you run, bike, swim or climb, the pictures are actually part of a pretty brilliant little business model. The event organizers hire a photography firm that takes thousands of pictures of the athletes at various locations along the routes of their heroic endeavors. Then in some remote sweatshop, Kathie Lee lords over thousands of impoverished children who identify and catalog each picture by bib number. (At least that's one theory. Maybe a computer does it. How would I know? On our recent Royal Caribbean cruise, they had a computer that cataloged all the pictures using facial-recognition software. Which is totally cool. And maybe slightly creepy.)

In any case, after everything's been cataloged, you can search online by your bib number and buy the pictures that make you look the most like a serious athlete. For the Hustle, you can order packages of each picture at prices ranging from $17 to $35. Or if you're cheap and shady, you can just crop a screen capture of each picture and post it on your blog completely free. What Would Kathie Lee Do?

Get to the pictures already!
OK. Jeez! Here I am rounding the first corner, mere seconds after I embarked on my own private Hustle. At least I think this is the first picture. I look equally energetic in this picture and the one they took at the end, so it's hard to tell. But my arm is out in this picture, and at the end I don't remember having the energy to exert myself so wastefully. (Or to gesture so delicately. I kinda look like a big ’mo here.)

Here I am 19 minutes later. I think. I'm one floor from the top of the ’Cock, and I'm looking way perkier than I feel. And despite my generally sweaty sheen, I still have static-y bedhead that manages to look just like a combover. How can you people keep both hands on your keyboards?

I think I'll pass on buying either of these shots, though. There's a reason the pantheon of great sports photography doesn't include a lot of images of people climbing stairs. And in addition to my not-very-athletyness in these pictures, the Hustle shirt makes my tummy look huge and my arms look positively Muppet-like. And I don't see a lot of reason to spend $35 to preserve any of that for posterity.

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