Monday, April 5, 2010

LA Afterthoughts + C4C

I received lots of online and offline congrats and comments about LA! Thank you! One of the things that came back the most was about taking so many pictures yet crushing my goal at the same time.... How did I manage it?

First of all, I don't think my goal was too easy. I think I just had a very rare perfect day. The fact that I was in a timezone 3 hours behind made the 7am start quite a late one for my eastern system and my nutrition was going right on schedule prior to the race, thanks to an All-you-can-eat pasta special for the Marathon at Maria's downtown LA. The weather was gorgeous. Even if it got a bit hot in downtown, once when we started going towards the sea the refreshing breeze came in to cool us down. The course was fabulous with lots of sights to take your mind off the grueling task of putting one foot before another and the community support was outstanding, recharging my batteries at every turn. I can't forget mentionning that my dad was also inspiring me to push the limit of what I knew I could do.

As the picture taking, I think it actually helped make me faster. Marathoners will know that the course can get pretty lonely and boring. It's not unusual to strike up a conversation with fellow runners when breathing is allowing it. Taking our minds off the littles aches that are developing or not thinking about how much fuel is left in the tank versus how many miles are left on the course is paramount to a good performance. Having the camera and thinking about the pictures and the sights that I wanted to bring back to friends and family did just that for me. While the running backwards was a bit dangerous (I almost tripped at least twice!) it also gave my muscles a break in the motion and I think this had a positive effect.

Where do I go from here? I have another marathon scheduled for the end of May, in my hometown with friends and family watching. I'll have to do well! My goal is simply a repeat of my LA performance to confirm that I am strong and can use the summer to get even faster towards that elusive Boston Qualifying time (3:10 for me).

LA Marathon, like most major races, had a bunch of race photographers on site. I never understood the race photography economy. While I do realize they spend tremendous amounts of money to take all these beautiful pictures such as this one:
What I never understood is the market for these pictures. A single picture will cost you $60. Granted they also offer an "economical' download of all the pictures they take of you for a "modest" $80. I can't justify myself paying that much money for pictures. Yes, I want a copy. These are amazing pictures of what is for the most part an extraordinary event, but seriously, $60 per picture? I had a chat with the girl at the counter at the expo about this. She seemed to hold a position of fair responsibility in the company and all she could do to validate that $80 for a download of all the pictures was a fair price was that it was their most popular product. I don't have an MBA in race photography economics, but let's say there are 50 photographers paid a per diem of $2,000 (I think this is generous, especially for LA where every closet paparazzi has good quality photo equipment), that's only $100,000 of fixed cost per event. Add in a generous amortization of $50,000 per race for website and bib recognition software and you only have a fixed cost of $150,000. If you sell a download package to %10 of the field at $80, that's $200k ($50k of profits). If you'd sell the same package for $25, you'd probably get %50 or more of the field buying it, that's over $300k ($150k profit). Maybe I'm wrong and there's already %50 of the field buying the download and I'm totally off the track here with my numbers.

If you are in the race photography business, I think your sweet spot for an almost universal buyin is about %25 of the cost of the race entry fee. For $25 or less, I'd buy the pictures before the race, before I even see them and not ask for a refund if they are no good. Anything over $30, I'll wait to see the results and if they are good I will get them. Anything over $40 I won't even think about it even if the picture is worthy of Time Magazine or National Geographics.

One of the benefits of having gone to LA is that I broke my phone so I got this new one:
It's more like a computer than a phone really and it has a GPS. I've seen lots of software for running and tracking distance, pace, etc and I will be trying them out in the next few weeks to see if there is a possibility of replacing my garmin. Less electronics to carry while I run is better in my books but I think it will be difficult to replace the purpose built Garmin watch with a more general use device like a phone. More on this as I experiment with the various software. If you have any suggestions for a good running software that runs on Android, let me know!

I totally forgot the C4C with the race excitement so I'll use the comments on my race report for the March numbers, so 8 food items will be donated to the Kanata Food Cupboard. Don't think that's enough to feed the needy? Leave your comments here for April's C4C, for every visitor that leaves a comment I'll donate one non-perishable item. If we go over 8 comments, I'll double March's donation!


  1. Thanks for sharing a little more about how the day worked for you. Once again. congralations! I have no doubt that you'll be even faster in your hometown on race weekend!

    I'm with you on the race photos... truly extortionate prices. I really can't imagine that many people pay for them?!?

  2. Did you get a Google Nexus One? If so, which carrier are you using it on? I have tried mine on Rogers and am now thinking of trying it on the new Bell/TELUS network.

  3. Hi Don. I'm with Fido right now. I don't see why it wouldn't work with Telus if you are within their new 3G network's coverage but I don't think it would work when you are out of the new network since they don't have legacy GSM to fall back on.

  4. Your analysis of the race photography business is interesting - I also hate to spend so much money for them, and have always thought that if they would just reduce the price a little bit they would have a heck of a lot more people buying. Great marathon by the way!!

  5. Yannick!! Wow, and congratulation's!!! Wow, I can't believe how much I've missed during my self imposed pity party!


    So glad that you and Alex were able to go to L.A. and thanks so much for sharing your experiences....okay, now I'm going back to re-read, I'm SURE I missed some tidbits!!


  6. I totally, totally agree with you about the race photo thing. I have recently been purchasing a few photos here and there. It pains me greatly to do this. A 5x7 runs about $15. After postage (okay, I have a HUGE rant about how I was once charged $6 postage for a photo that was sent FIRST CLASS MAIL without even a piece of cardboard in the envelope to keep it from bending!!) and tax they are over $25 usually. That is a lot of money for one shot! Digital downloads are about $40 and some places you can get all your photos for about $60-80.

    I agree that if they charged maybe $25 to download all your photos, a vast majority of participants would get them. If they charged $10-15 I'd bet almost ALL the people would pony up the money for marathons. And in the end they would make more money.

    I am guilty of saving images from the sites for myself and so do try to buy a photo I truly like every now and then. But I do think they need to rethink their pricing structure.

  7. As an amateur photographer, i don't necessarily agree that they are too expensive. You have to consider the time and resources spent putting all those pictures together and indexing them and that the more orders they have the more resources they would have to use up.

    The nexus one, eh? I was thinking of buying one myself, but haven't been able to pull the trigger just yet.

  8. Wow, it's been a while since I've done a big event and seen photo prices for them. The first-ever race photo I bought recently cost only $15 and was well worth it (my first iron finish photo). I agree that anything over $50 is too much!