There Will Be Mud

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How did you spend your Saturday morning?

Probably slept as late as possible. Brewed a strong pot of coffee. Had a bagel or doughnut. Read the paper. Planned your day.

Then again, you may have awoken early, noshed on some Cliff Bars (with some of that strong coffee), pulled on your running gear, and got ready to get muddy in Englishtown, New Jersey.

Raceway Park, a motor sports track there in Englishtown, was the site Saturday of a Rugged Maniac event. Rugged Maniac’s are kind of like the Tough Mudder’s little brother. A bit shorter distance-wise, maybe not such extreme in the obstacle department, but still plenty challenging.


I’m always trying to find more intersting situations to shoot more interesting photos. So I headed to Englishtown too. Not to compete, but to click and document. [Full disclosure: My wife and three friends competed in this Rugged Maniac. So while I did a good deal of photos to document her day – she’s been training since February for this – I also want to photodocument the event and people in an interesting way as well.]

My kit for the day was going to be sparse: My Canon 50D, my 24-105mm and, because I didn’t know how close I’d be able to get, I rented the Canon EF 70-200 f/4L from Borrow Lenses. This Canon 70-200 is a very nice telephoto and I wanted to put it to work. It autofocused quickly though if I went manual, all it took was some fingertip pressure. Still, there were times when I needed the wider angle so I’m glad I had the 24mm with me as well.

Both lenses did a really nice job and I’m glad I had them. I was able to cover every situation with either of them.

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In between the “in-the-moment” race photos, I was able to get some nice, fun portraits as well. Whether it was the older gent cleaning his muddstache (get it?), the gal giving a mud facial to her friend, or the jacked-up trio of girls who gave me a Rahhhhh!, it was exactly the type of fun event with cool people that I like to shoot.

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I like fun event photography situations like this. I shoot the Sons of Ireland Polar Bear Plunge in Asbury Park every year. There’s something about motivated people in a fun/unique setting that gets me going. I have fun with them, they have fun in front of my camera.

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And yes…there on the right site, post-race, is my fantastic wife. She had a smile on her face the whole time, so to get her to look “intense” was a challenged. She trained really hard for this, watched her diet and got herself into great shape. Hey, she runs after three kids ages 6 and under every day, so her stamina is already pretty good.

But this was a challenge she really wanted to do. So she and a few friends committed to it. And kicked ass. Again, my primary goal was to be there to record the day for them, so I’m glad I was able to do that.

And, as with any shoot, there’s going to be the “must get” shot, the money shot if you will. You miss that….well, pardner, you’re cooked.

In my case, while I knew they’d enjoy the “action” shots…if I didn’t get my wife and her friends crossing the finish line…I’d be sleeping on the couch.


Got it.

Finally, I wanted a nice “hero” shot of the group, something to convey the sense of accomplishment that they had after the race, and would be happy to post to their Facebook pages.

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It was a really fun – albeit hot and humid – way to spend a few hours on Saturday. These types of events really aren’t singular committments. It’s about teamwork, having fun, getting it done together. The first few images in this post illustrate that. A hand outreached, clasped hands…that’s what this is all about.

You combine water, mud and fire, and it’s just a good time all around. And a photographically-target rich environment. I’ll be getting some prints made for my wife and her friends, maybe doing a small book for them as well. They are proud of doing this race, and should be.

My wife isn’t done. She is pretty committed to doing the full-blown Tough Mudder in October.

Looks like, though, I won’t be shooting that one.

I’ll be doing it with her.

© Mark V. Krajnak | JerseyStyle Photography | All Rights Reserved 2013


4 thoughts on “There Will Be Mud

  1. Mark, just discovered your blog through the shout-out from Joe McNally’s latest post. This series above is terrific — love the documentary style and the grit is palpable. Great story–look forward to seeing more!

  2. Mark, your pictures are awesome!! I’m one of the superheroes, you took our group picture, can’t wait to see it! Thanks so much for taking these! If you are free tomorrow, most of our group are part of a non-profit called Party with Purpose from Hoboken NJ. We are having our 9th annual charity 5k and fun run for kids on Pier A in Hoboken starting at 3:30. Swing by if you can, there are plenty of great shots there as well.

  3. Pingback: Dispatches: Dispatching Summer | JerseyStyle Photography

  4. Pingback: Dispatches: Stuck In the Mud Of Jersey | JerseyStyle Photography

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