Twenty six point two

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I prefer individual sports over team sports.  This is due in part to my own maverick personality.  To that, however, I also hold much higher respect to the human spirit and qualities of an individual and what one single person can achieve and overcome rather than the collective institutional aspect a hive.  A team conjures its strength through unity, relying on the summation of each member’s respective strength to mask any weakness in order to prevail against an external opponent.  In a contest of individuals, however, that one person must summon any available strength from within, battling not only external opponents but one’s own limitations and weaknesses, whether it be physical, mental, or emotional.

That is one of many reasons why a marathon fascinates and intrigues me.  It is a contest in which an individual, relying only on his or her past experience, training, endurance, and the emotional support from friends and loved ones, to fight off any fatigue, exhaustion, pain, and self-doubt, to run a distance of 26.2 miles.  It is a contest against one’s own limitations rather than against the surrounding runnings.  The greatest obstacle that one may ever face is the enemy from within.  To conquer one’s own fears and doubts is a greater token of victory than any medal or trophy.

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Of course, that is only half of what is great to watch at a marathon.  The other is to see the incredible support from the spectating crowds, who come out not only to cheer on their friends and loved ones running but directing their encouragements to everyone facing that 26.2 mile long battle.  Even as a non-participant who is present to merely observe and photo-document, I find it quite difficult not to become emotionally overwhelmed at hearing a complete stranger shout out, “YOU CAN DO THIS, RUNNERS!”  It gives me hope for humanity.

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I can go on babbling about my experience at the 2014 Bank of America Chicago Marathon last month in October, of why artistically it is a fantastic subject matter to photograph due to the warm morning light and the vivid colours of the runners’ clothing (or in some cases, lack of clothing).  I demur, however, and will instead let the images themselves from that day tell the story of individual spirit and a finer moment of humanity.

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# selfie.



“You can praise God by peeling a spud if you peel it to perfection. Don’t compromise. Compromise is a language of the devil. Run in God’s name and let the world stand back and in wonder.”

—Rev. J.D. Liddell in Chariots of Fire

All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved