If you come from a country where all landscapes are flat, all cities are equally arisen from the same ground level, you are always amazed by how other countries find a way to build and construct in places that almost seem impossible to you. I come from such a country; The Netherlands. And the city that amazed me this time was Guanajuato, the capital of Guanajuato, Mexico. And I soon discovered why the race we were about to film was called the Non Flat Urban Race…
As in most productions, we were in a little rush when we arrived to Guanajuato. We needed to drop off our gear, explore the 5 and 10 KM route that the runners would later conquer that evening and get ready for the race. We arranged a hotel near the center to leave our stuff and we went to the epicenter of the BUFF organization, where hundreds of special designed t-shirts and – of course- BUFF scarfs were unboxed for all the runners that were waiting to be registered.
– How were we going to do this with all of our gear and under time pressure? –
After being introduced to Buff Race Director, Iveth “La flaca”, we were ready to discover the route to find the most beautiful spots to set up our cameras. The route, guided by white chalk powder arrows, took us to magical alleys, colorful streets, and not forget to mention, thousands of stairs, that eventually lead us all the way to El Pípila, a giant statue at the highest point at the edge of the city. We were out of breath and took a little break, and we were only halfway the route. How were we going to do this with all of our gear and under time pressure?…
– We tried to capture the runners from all possible sides, tried to find the best angle and best light.-
We split up the group of 8 into teams of 2; 1 team would cover the photography with our Canon 6D + 2 flash heads, 2 teams would take care of the filming and 1 team would fly the inspire 1 drone. For the filming we decided to take our Sony Fs700 camera and a 5D mounted in our newest toy-addition; the Ronin! Benjamin was cheering up the waiting runners at the start with his brand new friend Ronin while the other teams got their gear ready at their first location. The pressure was high, the schedule tight, and we were ready! 3-2-1, GO! The race started and hundreds of headlamps lit the street while they quickly disappeared, ready to conquer thousands of moonlit stairs, alleys and streets of Guanaguato. It was quite a challenge to film the runners in dimly lit alleys, without bothering them in their race with our cameras, sliders, tripods and other equipment. We moved around like crazy in this city with its insane, really INSANE amount of stairs. We tried to capture the runners from all possible sides, find the best angle and the best light. This was a challenging but creative process. Our drone team went all the way up to El Pípila to shoot the runners at the highest point. We decided not to fly our drone in the alleys of the city; the darkness and electrical wires would make it impossible to manage a drone, especially a big type like the one we were using.
-The inspire 1 drone captured the race from above with the incredible city as a background canvas.-
We all had to cover 5 locations more or less within 1,5 hour. Our schedule was tight and after the second location we were just on time to film the first champion of the 5KM race.
It was incredible so see how involved the people of Guanajuato were this evening! On every street corner they were encouraging the runners; shouting, cheering and applauding for them. The inspire 1 drone captured the race from above with the incredible city as a background canvas. Occasionally we would bump into the other teams, all running up and down the stairs of Guanajuato, too exhausted and under pressure to have a quick ‘how does it go?’. Thumbs up or a smile meant we were still functioning in this crazy race against the clock.
-Thumbs up or a smile meant we were still functioning in this crazy race against the clock. –
After this we moved to the underground tunnels where the final part of the route took place. At night, this labyrinth looks like a set for a horror movie. The shimmering lights threw a long dark shade on the exhausted runners while their footsteps echoed for a long time after they where out of sight. In here we really needed to watch our gear, because of the water dripping down everywhere.
We just got back in time to the finish line when Ricardo Mejia won the overall category of the 10KM race. We stayed at the finish to make shots of the runners and crowd. The Ronin ended up being the perfect tool for this. The race was over and all the teams met up at the medal ceremony where the winners of the different categories where called upon the main stage. Of course we filmed and photographed this until the very last moment.
This production was definitely one of the most exhausting and stressful one we did, even if it only lasted for a few hours. Our muscles were sore of the hundreds of stairs that we climbed, our gear dusty, but our heart filled with excitement. We gained lots of energy from this event, because in the end;
flat is indeed boring!