Joel Reichenberger: Giving in to goofy |

Joel Reichenberger: Giving in to goofy

— It’s with joy and trepidation that today I ann­­ounce a change in policy.

In more than three years in Steamboat Springs, I’ve tried to mold the competitors of this town the only way I can: by giving certain people more coverage than others, by running certain types of photos and not others.

Marathon runners are stunning in their ability to spot a photographer and find a way to do something goofy. During last weekend’s race, I was mostly stationed near Mad Creek, on Routt County Road 129. Sometimes I shot down by the road, but I also climbed up high on the hillside looking for a unique perspective. No matter whether I was in the ditch or 30 feet above, however, eagle-eyed runners would spot me and give me a cheesy grin and a wave. They’d throw their arms up like they were crossing the finish line. One group even turned around midway through the 13.1-mile half-marathon to find their friends for the photo op.

For years, I’ve tossed the vast majority of those photos. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the “howdy” from runners, or that I’m put off by the strange amount of joy they’re expressing. It’s just that I’ve never thought such unnatural photos work in the newspaper.

In several columns now, I’ve praised Hayden High School senior Chris Zirkle’s performance at the state track meet, where he captured two dramatic state championships. As much as I appreciated Zirkle for providing a fantastic story, I appreciated him more for providing an exclamation point to the story by letting loose his emotion as he crossed the finish line, waving his arms, burying his face in his hands and collapsing under the weight of a dream realized, all of it written on his stunned face.

That right there is how you get your photo in the newspaper. Stopping to give me a flexing muscles pose on a road in the middle of nowhere? Not so much.

But, as I worked through my thousands of Steamboat Marathon photos, I decided it was time for a policy change.

Maybe, now at a wise 29 years, I’ve grown soft, but the weird poses, the goofy faces and the cliche waves, well, they’re starting to grow on me.

There’s something about the sheer exuberance of such moments that made me smile as I sorted through photos.

None made it in the paper, unfortunately. I’m still not sure how appropriate that is. But I did include some in our online photo gallery.

So, let me review the revised rules, just so all the runners, bikers, skiers, etc., out there know what has to be done to achieve what I’m convinced is their lifelong ambition, to appear in one of my photographs in the Steamboat Pilot & Today.

Show me that emotion. Grit the teeth climbing a hill or celebrate with the arms while crossing the finish line. Keep the eyes ahead and the face in a non-idiotic expression.

And, if you’re just so happy to see me when you’re running, I promise, I won’t think less of you. Give in and give me your best thumbs-up, wave or super goofy grin, and just maybe you’ll make the paper.

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