Kopacs at NY Marathon finish line
Mid-Hudson Road Runners Club
MHRRC Home  Recent  Humor  Information  Boston Marathon  NYRRC Races  Other Races  By Friends
Lynne in NYC

Kopac's Corner

Christo's Gates, Part Deux

by Bob Kopac

"You can't always get what you want." The Rolling Stones

At the February 13th NYRRC Al Gordon 15K I had wanted to photograph the runners, including Lynne, as they passed in front of Christo's Gates in Central Park. Indeed, I shot many photographs. However, I made a basic photographer mistake. I had wanted to capture the vibrant rich saffron colors, so I used 100-speed film. Yes, the colors were vibrant, but almost every runner was blurred, including Lynne. Doh! What to do? Nothing, except to try once again. We woke up at 3:30 AM on February 26 to catch the train for the NYRRC Snowflake 4 Miler, the day before the end of Christo's Gates project. 3:30 AM? Yes, I would suffer yet again for art.

It had snowed recently, so the Gates would be even more spectacular in the snow. And, since I decided to shoot with 800-speed professional film, I would eliminate the blurring problem. I could not possibly screw up the photographs. Or, could I?

Because Lynne had run the 15K 2 weeks earlier, she told me that the best place for Gates photographs was at the Bethesda Terrace along the 72nd Street transverse. Thus, while Lynne went to the start of the race at 102nd Street, I walked towards the Terrace. The men's race started at 8 AM, and I had reached the back of the Metropolitan Museum of Art when the 2,049 men runners approached me. There I took several photographs, including one of male winner Matt Downin of Westwood, NJ, who would finish in 20:12. I then continued on to Bethesda Terrace to be at the halfway point of the 9 AM women's race.

Lynne said she would be running on the left side of the road. Accordingly, I positioned myself on the left side of the road, where I was able to photograph female winner Tatyana Hladyr of New York City, who would finish in 22:50. As the 2,106 women ran past my position, I searched for Lynne. Then I heard a voice cry out, "Bob, I'm over here!" There was Lynne, wearing orange to match the Gates, on the other side of the road. What we had here was a failure to communicate--the runner's left or the observer's left? Had I missed the definitive photograph of Lynne and the Gates?

But, wait! I suddenly realized that Lynne would run straight on the course before making a 90-degree turn to the left to head north. If I ran on a diagonal walk path, I just might be able to photograph Lynne as she ran by the Central Park boathouse.

First I would have to wade across the stream of female runners without causing road rage, then dash down the Bethesda Terrace steps, run up the path while dodging the hordes of tourists admiring Christo's Gates, and arrive just in time to photograph Lynne. This would be the first running I would attempt since my hip replacement. However, a photograph of Lynne would be worth any pain, so I "ran" the best I could, after not having run in 10 years. It wasn't Chariots of Fire; it was more akin to Monty Python's Ministry of Silly Walks.

So, naturally, I arrived at the boathouse just after Lynne ran by, missing her by 3 seconds. Afterwards we met Sue, Dan and Helen who had come down to NYC for the Gates and a show, for Lynne and I had planned on a little R&B--Running and Broadway. Looking for an independent (a.k.a. sympathetic) opinion, I asked Sue what she thought "being on the left side of the road" meant. Sue said that meant the runners' left. That wasn't logical at all. Women!

Speaking of women, Lynne recounted an incident of road rage that she witnessed during the race. As the female runners ran past a pedestrian crossing in the park, a woman armed with a baby stroller pushed directly into the path of the packed runners, causing several runners to nearly fall. One runner immediately starting cursing at her, and the perambulator perpetrator responded in kind--a classic New York City moment.

As Lynne recounted the event, I suddenly realized why I had missed photographing her at the boathouse. I had lost precious seconds while attempting to cross the road against the stream of female runners. Perhaps if I had acted like the stroller assailant, I might have gotten the shot! Too bad I did not have a baby buggy.

Oh well, I guess I will have to wait to see if there is a race at Christo's next event, the suspension of fabric panels across the Arkansas River in Colorado. Hmmm, photographs from the left bank or the right bank?