We are picking up right where we left off yesterday. That means if you haven’t you should probably go back to the last post by clicking here and reading that first!
I had just shot with Marisa Parks about an hour and a half away from San Antonio and now I’m headed back to do another portrait session later that day:
I got back into San Antonio in time to grab some lunch and luckily the rain had stopped. It was still a little gloomy but as long as there wasn’t any rain we were good. A bit later I drove to a suburb of San Antonio to photograph the next nominee, Steve Barlow. Another super amazing guy and I can totally see why his athletes nominated him. He’s definitely one of those coaches that would have loved to run for as it seemed like he was always doing something for the kids. We talked a bit about a summer running camp they do in Colorado (naturally this was a topic of discussion as I’m from CO) and then also talked about a Run-A-Thon that he created to help local charities. Here is his portrait:
Finally! A chance to relax and not rush off to the airport to catch a flight. I had a blast staying in San Antonio over night. I had never been but my friends mentioned I should check out the River Walk. Essentially it’s this little area in downtown San Antonio with a small river running through and tons and tons of restaurants and shops all around. I checked that out for a bit and then hoped back up to the street and walked over to the Alamo. My only regret is that this trip couldn’t have lasted double as long so I could have done the same in each place. I can’t say enough good things about my time in San Antonio and I’ll definitely be going back sometime in the future.
The next morning, I got up and packed up for the last portrait session in San Antonio. I drove out to another suburb and met up with the next nominee, Juan Castanon. The thing I loved about Juan was how friendly he was and his willingness to accommodate me. Before arriving at each nominee, I had a little write up to look over that described some information about the person. Juan’s really struck me as he had been through some pretty rough times and really attributed running to being a saving grace. He also spoke about how he would do anything for his kids and at times provided shoes to those who couldn’t afford them. No doubt an incredibly inspiring person! Here’s his portrait:
SAT to MCI
After my roughly 36 hour stint in San Antonio I was off to Kansas City. Again, back on the schedule of a late flight out and arriving into the next spot around midnight. However, this one was a little more tricky. I touched down in Kansas City right around sunset but the next nominee was in a town about 2 hours west of the city. Fresh off the two nights in San Antonio I figured it would be best to cruise out that night vs trying to make the drive in the morning. By the time I rolled into the town of Wamego everything was shut down.
The next morning I decided to grab some food at the little diner in town and then headed off to meet Rick Patton. Even though it was a small little midwest town I still managed to get lost on the way to the track (I’m going to blame it on the fact that I had the wrong address!). Rick was another one of these coaches that definitely resonated with me as one of those coaches I would have loved to have. He has been the coach at Wamego for decades and really put his athletes first. It was super inspiring to talk with him about famous runners like Jim Ryun who came out of Kansas. And, If I’m remembering correctly he also knew of the nominee from my first stop, Alysun Deckert who ran in college in Kansas. It was a blast getting to know him and a perfect day to meet up! Here is his portrait:
MCI to CVG
After that I was back on the road for two hours trying to get back to Kansas City Airport to head off to Kentucky. I flew into Cincinnati airport and again got in super late. This was one of the few times that I decided to get in the car and drive until I was too tired. It was about an hour and a half drive from the airport to the next nominees hometown and I think I made it about 15 to 20 minutes there before deciding to grab a hotel for the night and get back at it in the morning.
I woke up the next morning to rain hitting the window… I looked outside and it was coming down fairly steady and I was worried for a moment that we weren’t going to be able to get any photos done that day. Each person had a location picked out but also had a backup location indoors in case the weather turned sideways. However, at this point in the trip I had been incredibly lucky to not hit any weather that made us flip inside so I was worried if I did at this point this portrait would stand out as the only one who had been photographed indoors.
I got back in the car and started heading down the road and the rain started to let up (I think for a bit it even stopped). When I got to Mount Sterling, KY, it was only a bit of a drizzle and was hoping it would hold off for an hour. It didn’t… I met up with Hopey Newkirk at her high school and instantly felt the southern hospitality. She was incredibly warm and welcoming and another coach that I know I would have loved to have at some point in my track career. We headed outside and the rain started to come down and the wind started to blow. She was a trooper while we took some photos up on the hilltop (behind her in the photo below) before I said we should head down to the track to at least try to get a break from the wind. About 10 minutes later the wind and rain let up and although we were a little drenched we were still able to capture some great images of her. Here’s Hopey’s portrait:
CVG to RDU
I quickly hurried back from my shoot with Hopey to get to the airport to hopefully catch an earlier flight to Raleigh… It didn’t work. However, I did end up somehow convincing the ticket agent for American Airlines to upgrade me to first class for free. I think she felt really sorry for me when she looked at my itinerary and saw how many flights I had booked (with connections I think I took 14 flights in those 11-days). Another late night when I landed in Raleigh so I decided to grab a hotel on the outskirts of town so I’d be ready for another long drive in the morning.
About an hour and a half southwest of Raleigh is a little town called Cameron. And in this town lives one of the most incredible people I have ever met in my life, Nat Carter. When I showed up to meet him at the track he was dressed in his Sunday best as he had just come from church. He quickly changed into his coaching gear which of course included his signature orange hat (which he had been wearing with his suit earlier). We immediately hit it off. Nat is very much a track guy and knew a lot of my former teammates from UO but we were also able to talk about the Junior Olympic’s quite a bit (something I competed in for years when I was a kid). I think my favorite thing about Nat was the fact that he still competes in Masters track to this day! Ashley (second stop) gave me some motivation to get back running but Nat definitely made me feel like a slacker. I don’t think I will ever be able to forget Nat and hope that we’ll see each other soon. And Nat, if you are reading, I’ll do my best to get Ashton Eaton down to North Carolina! Here is his portrait:
Alright, that’s all for Part Two! Come back tomorrow and read the final part to this crazy adventure!
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