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Behind The Shot– 100 Miles High

By Fredrik Marmsater-

I’ve always approached shooting the Hardrock 100 to convey what the racers are going through – the massive vertical, intense terrain and the immense beauty that the course dishes out. The Hardrock covers 100 miles and 33000 vertical feet of climbing through the San Juans in southern Colorado – all while staying above 10000 ft for the vast majority of the race. Soaring peaks, deep valleys, flowering meadows, waterfalls and roaring creeks, snowfields, loose scree, intense electrical storms are all part of the norm and as the runners tackle the course. Inspiring to say the least, both as a photographer and an athlete.

Clik Elite Immortal Fredrik Marmsater making his way through Grouse Gulch, wearing the Contrejour 40

On my way up Grouse gulch with a full pack – two tripods, two camera bodies and lenses + gear. I left one camera on a tripod clicking away for a Handies peak time lapse and continued up to the summit to film the racers going over the top.

I have photographed the Hardrock 100 4 years straight – shooting around the aid stations and the finish does not exactly convey what the athletes are experiencing and putting themselves through. I try to be out on course, covering the highest passes as much as possible – at times running or hiking up to 20-30 miles and 10‐15k vertical and with camera gear to try to capture the race and convey the effort by the racers. Shooting this race is the toughest 30‐40 hour “work‐day” of the year, and a logistical challenge to boot.

Last year, instead of shooting stills, we made a film called, “100 Miles High” about Darcy Piceu Africa as she raced to repeat her 2012 win:

“100 Miles High”. Big thanks to my partners at LT11 for their contributions with editing, post production and original score.

I had planned out my 30 hour shift to cover Darcy at as many places as possible based on her projected times through aid stations and calculating what times Darcy would be at various points on the course that I wanted to shoot. I covered Darcy running over Little‐Giant Pass, Cunningham gulch aid, Handies peak, Ouray aid station, the climb up Camp Bird Road, over Virginius pass, Grant‐Swamp pass, the final creek crossing, and the finish. I recruited a 2nd camera to shoot at Telluride and Chapman aid stations through the night. Along with this I setup a few time lapses while the racers were out there.

Fredrik Marmsater waits out the rapid moving weather while protecting his Contrejour 40 and camera gear with his rain fly.

Set up and waiting for Darcy and the racers on the summit ridge of Handies Peak. Thunderstorms all around, but luckily, this time all I got was a few rain showers as the electrical storms seemed to part around Handies.

Having camera backpacks that work, are light, fit well, and can take the rigors of big days and carry the gear you need becomes critical. And for motion work, add a couple of tripods, slider, microphone and various motion paraphernalia and the kit is not exactly light. I shot all the motion footage on a Nikon D800, 24‐70/2.8, 70‐200/2.8 and a little footy with a 16-35/f4, using a Manfrotto 701 video head, and either a larger Manfrotto tripod, or a super light, small Redged carbon fiber tripod, along with an eye piece, and Rode video pro mic – all carried in a Clik Contrejour 40 cloud pack. One of the critical features of the Contrejour 40, and most of the Clik products, is that you can also fit all the regular outdoor gear you need for a day in the mountains, beyond just camera gear. I usually bring a super light rain jacket, like the Houdini, a thin long sleeve base layer, maybe a down layer, hat and gloves and a mandatory headlamp, sports drink, enough food/calories. Having only the basic gear that you need (and no more) is key for getting out there and getting the shot.

FRED-MARMASTERFredrik Marmsater is an outdoor adventure photographer specializing in shooting in remote locations, and capturing athletes pushing their limits. From expedition skiing to long trail runs, getting into beautiful and seldom seen locations and bringing back fresh images is the trademark of his business. Fred’s work can be found in the pages of magazines like Powder, Backcountry Magazine, Climbing, Trail Runner, Canoe and Kayak, and in advertising campaigns of companies such as Patagonia, Ibex, Sierra Designs and LaSportiva. Fred requires a pack that will take not just his camera equipment, but also a day (or days) worth of personal gear into the backcountry. In addition, the packs needs to be light, function correctly, carry well, and smartly store all the stuff needed for a good adventure shoot. The Contrejour 40, Probody Sport, Sprint and Telephoto SLR Chest Carrier are his go-to gear, depending on the outing. You can view more of his work at:

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