“JESUS CHRIST!” exclaims a passing lady after I say “good morning” to her from my carefully chosen vantage point a short while before the Galway Bay Marathon events start (Photos here). A whimsical part of me wants to say, “No, ma’am. I am not Jesus Christ. I am the COW! The Galway COW,” but, afraid that she might call the men in the white coats, or a veterinarian who may subsequently have me put to sleep for having a clear-cut case of mad cow disease, I elect to simply apologise and it turns out that she didn’t actually think my name was Jesus but the fact was, because I was sitting in the shadows beside a wall with the sun at my back, she couldn’t actually see, and was frightened by, me on account of being blinded by the bright early morning sun and startled by a voice that seemed to come out of nowhere.
The sun rises in the east and the road always leads west. The west is wild, the west is damp, the west is magical, and the west is the place I have become proud to call my home. And yet I had zero interest in photographing today’s marathon events on account of the fact that it is a looped course. It’s not that there is anything wrong with looped courses, there isn’t, it’s just that with 2000+ people all running along it which makes photographing individuals a struggle since they are inclined to be all bunched up together a lot of the time.
However, many, many of the running community messaged me on and through my page during the week saying “see you in Galway” and so, like a holy and sacred Cow, I went where my people expected me to be.
My ideas of what constitutes a typical marathon runner has been challenged in recent weeks, and none-the-less today. Two colourful looking marathon runners cheerfully approach me and decide to stop and have a chat and a cigarette break.
Incredibly, many of the runners I saw the previous week at the 24 hour park run in Tralee are up on their pins and running today’s marathon, and it is a joyful experience to encounter them again. One such lady is the one below, and her antics are a delight to behold every single time I see her.
Another chap I spot, that I have seen at other events recently, comes gliding towards me and I exclaim, “I thought people only used to do one marathon a year?”
“Arrah, that was years ago,” he chuckles in his lyrical south-of-Ireland accent.
A poignant story I hear today is that of a woman who is running in memory of her daughter and she turns around to show me her picture on her tshirt.
At the start of this race, I had made the decision that I would only stay to photograph the marathon part of the event and would then make my way to other non-running events that were on today. However, like an alcoholic that can’t stop after the first drink, I cannot stop once I take the camera out of the bag and I end up taking photos for a solid 5 hours.
When, a few months ago, I started doing event photography nobody knew who I was, nor I them, but now I feel a connection to many of them with the bridge supporting that connection being my camera lens and I feel like I have a new James Bond-like sort of identity with many knowing the name of my project, but not my Christian name.
The name’s COW, Galway COW. And I like my milk shaken, not pasteurised, baby!