How to Look Good in a Race Photo (or: Why Mr. Cool is a JERK)

One of the major duckface pioneers.

WEATHER: Meh.  Dull and gray.


MILES THIS WEEK: 40?  Maybe?


MOOD: Consumerist and dirty.


So there I am, sitting at my desk at work, minding my own business, when suddenly on my screen there appears a gchat message from Mr. Cool himself.  More specifically, it is a link.

“Tralala!” I said, clicking on the link in a happy-go-lucky, devil-may-care fashion as I took a much-needed respite from my day at work, sitting at my NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

For, you see, Mr. Cool had sent me links to the race photos from the Jingle All The Way 10K.  And let me remind you: as I mentioned in my last post, running a 10K feels to me like someone is stabbing me in the quads with a rusty bread knife soaked in hydrochloric acid and satan’s urine.

So how do I look in the photos?  Like I feel as if someone is stabbing me in the quads with a rusty bread knife soaked in hydrochloric acid and satan’s urine WHILE WEARING A TIGHTISH WHITE RUNNING SHIRT IN THE FREEZING COLD RAIN.

Is it fantastically unflattering?  Oh, yes.  Is my face screwed up into a grotesque mask of pain, rage, remorse, and homicidal urges towards whoever put the damn finish line so goddamn far away?  Of course it is.  Some muffin-topping and altogether funky bulging going on?  You bet.  Is there nippage?  Girlfriend, you have no idea.

Here’s the truth, dear readers.  I’m good at a lot of things (anal-retentive gift-wrapping, making up new and creative brownie recipes, eyeballing the weight of a market-weight barrow or gilt to within 10 pounds or so), but I am patently incapable of looking good in a race photo.*

But that does not mean that YOU cannot look all Gisele Zoolander in your overpriced glossy mounted framed photo mementos from your next race, and so I give you tips on:

How to look good in your race photographs

So the basics: at most races, there are these lovely people squatting in the middle of the road with really expensive cameras with 5-foot telescopic lenses, snapping pictures of everyone and not at all getting in the way.  These, friends, are race photographers, and they are there to make you realize that as grandma predicted, you got your family’s “husky thighs” gene and now you must rush into a grapefruit-and-mile-long-intervals-laden tizzy jack up the prices on a simple goddamn maybe like .2 kilobyte photo and thereby make money for marathonfoto and brightroom and the rest of the military/industrial/road race complex immortalize your finest hour.

And I mean, never in my life have I ever (a) looked good in any of those damn pictures they endlessly e-mail at you after a race, and thus nor have i ever (b) purchased them.  But perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.


1) Don’t wear white.

No, really.  Just don’t.  Ever.  In fact, if you can go full ninja, please do.

2) Maybe you should make a duckface.

…if you want to SUCK.

3) OK, seriously now.  Smiling is a good idea.

It will take some concentration, but it’s probably worth it.  Of course, if you don’t get it juuuuuust right, that smile could easily be taken as a painful grimace or, perhaps worse, simple gassiness.  You don’t want that.  Perhaps try…

4) The Look of Determination.

Grit.  Perseverance.  Million-mile stare, with perhaps a hint of weathered crows’-feet as you squint into the distance and spot your prey.  “Paint-my-face-with-the-blood-of-my-enemies” fierceness.  An air of contempt for your fellow runners, which perhaps causes one eyebrow to raise suggestively and induces a slight pout, and ahhhhh shit.  You’re doing the duckface again.

OK, no more face tips.  How about…

5) Short socks.

For once, I’m being totally straight with you.  Short socks.  NOT crew socks and certainly not red-and-white-Santa-stripey tube socks.  Elongate those husky thighs.  It’s like Grandma used to say: “If your legs look stumpy they’ll send you off to lug around wheelbarrows of gravel for the WPA.  Now eat your cabbage and rub my corns.”  An excellent point there.

6) You’re pretty likely to look like death, anyway, so why not make it a funny picture?

Now, this seems logical.  Why not grab a cigarette and a beer from a bystander and get your finish photo taken with those?  Or perhaps give someone the immortal “bunny ears”?  Maybe flip the bird!  Cross your eyes!  Wooooo, you crazy cracked-out madcap animal!  “Haha!” you may think this picture says. “I may be hardcore and disciplined enough to run a marathon, but I’m still WACKY!”  Hmph.

Actually, go on ahead.  None of my business.  Whatever captures your personality.  Vive la diference!  Spice of life!  Lalala!  Or whatever the phrase is.

(Though I personally like to photobomb these jokers by wetting myself in the background.  Just saying.)

Wait, what?

7) Ah, f**k it.  Just don’t buy the damn pictures.

I mean, if you have $75 to spend on each of six glossy 4×6 photos, be my guest.  Where are you going to put your Marathonfoto, anyway?  Facebook?  Please.  You have better ways to make Christina Cheerleaderface from high school jealous.  MySpace?  Please.  You have better ways to entice all of the perverts in the Western Hemisphere.  Your office?  Don’t be that guy.  On the fridge?  Pshaw.  Rachel Zoe is better thinspiration and we all know it.

8. Put it on your running blog.

Baaaahahahahahaha!  Hahaha!  Ha.  Ha.  Ohhhh.  <wipes tear>  Helllll no.


No, really.  If you every come across those photos I will superglue your toes together in your sleep.  And then laugh and laugh and laugh as you wake up and step out of bed and lose all sense of balance and panic and beg God for mercy.

Actually, that sounds like fun anyway.  You’ve been warned.


*(Now, you may be saying, “Oh, come on.  No one looks good in a race photo.”  And that seems logical and correct and all that, but it is a LIE, you lying bastard.  Because I point you to the pictures of Rusty, who — in spite of the fact that he was tearing through at a breakneck mach-4 pace — is grinning from ear to ear, legs gloriously muscled and giving him an air of springing gaily along as if he were part of a Runner’s World “how to keep your motivation!” photo shoot and not the crappiest 10K ever.) (Beautiful photogenic bastard.)

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