I may be getting to old for this shit. Just don’t let Rick Hermelin hear me say that.
The 71-year-old Marine left Paris Island, SC a month ago with a couple changes of clothes and a fancy elliptical bike, hell bent on reaching the pacific in just 100 days. He says he could do it faster, but 100 is an important number to him. He’s run 100 marathons and 100 half-marathons. 10K races? He’s got 100 of those under his belt, too. He hit the road this spring to raise awareness and money for The Semper Fi Fund.
But I didn’t log in to plug his cause — that would be against corporate policy. And everyone knows I’m a stickler for stuff like that. Rather, I’d like to
discuss complain dissect the process of shooting such a feat.
Every time a dude takes to the road with a cause and a pair of running shoes, guys like me are summoned to make television out of it. It’s always a fun time — the fresh air, the wind in my scalp, the bugs in my teeth. Really, what could be better than playing leapfrog on a fresh spring day?
This is not the spread-legged, bent-over game of your youth. (That comes at 5:45 when the stacker needs a live shot to lead the 6pm news.) News Leapfrog is a manly game of mud, horsepower, and the crash of expensive electronics on the pavement.
Ya see, shooting someone’s cross-country trek involves trekking cross-country with them. (What? You expected us to shoot all that video in the fire department parking lot?)
Your intrepid news crew runs down the highway, sets up, and waits for said Trekie to pass. Then they jump in their highly visible steed, speed past their subject and do it all again. It’s not a feat for the faint-hearted. Spinning tires, dodging potholes, kneeling roadside praying not to become the subject of the next traffic report.
It also means riding alongside the dude in the day-glo duds when he’s ready for his close-ups. The photog hangs out the window a la Lee Majors in The Fall Guy. Then he dangles his fancycam inches above the blacktop for those nice spinning wheel shots, or catching each jarring step as a Nike pounds the pavement. It’s the stuff stories like this are made of. And it works great if the reporter can operate a motor vehicle. But what happens when the photog is the reporter?
While I’ll never admitt to shooting with one eye and driving with the other (I’m sure that would be against corporate policy too) I will say that in cases like this an OMB has to get creative. He has to leapfrog a lot farther than a two-man crew, too, looking for any way possible to make the same shot of a rider/runner coming toward him look different. It a’int always pretty.
So, if you happen to see an old dude on a weird-looking stand-up-to-pedal bike on the highway this spring, take a look around, and be careful. There’s probably a crouching photog somewhere nearby hoping to avoid becoming the next pedestrian struck story at the top of the early news.