Racing Age is an ongoing photographic series about master’s track & field athletes. The master’s circuit starts at age 35, and pits athletes against competitors in their same 5-year age bracket. In this series, I am focusing on retirement-age athletes, those in their 70s and older. I was a Division I collegiate track & field heptathlete, and was fascinated when I discovered these older athletes. I went to a track meet out of curiosity. But what compelled me to photograph were two things:
First, what I saw defied visual stereotypes. These athletes are not cute, or vulnerable, or weak: They are fierce and competitive. It can actually be a bit scary to watch. It’s not what you are you used to seeing an older person do. It is inspiring and brave, but also uncomfortable. In that way, looking at who they are and what they are doing feels challenging.
Second, something really unique about track & field is that it measures the abilities of the human body very concretely: How fast can you run? How far can you throw? How high or far can you jump? Master’s track & field athletes are actually providing data about the evolution of human ability. Athletes of retirement age and older are living longer and better– they are continually breaking age group records for running, jumping and throwing that would have seemed impossible even a few decades ago.
I am shooting this project on a fully manual Hasselblad 503cx on Kodak black & white medium format film The method of shooting is slow and deliberate- metaphorically I am giving myself a slower and older body to work with.