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  • Writer's pictureAnderson Bobo

2021 Photography Review

2021 was an eventful year for me. I started out the year shooting track for fun and ended it with shooting the NCAA D1 Cross Country Championships all in my first year shooting sports. in the spring, I was finishing up my last semester running track for the University of North Florida. I got lucky that we have a world class track (The Visit Jax Track at Hodges Stadium). We at North Florida have hosted big meets in the past like the NCAA Outdoor East Regional meet but with the recent resurfacing of the track in early 2021 it was primed and ready for fast performances. In the end of April, the UNF Invite brought in big names. The likes of world champion, Grant Holloway would run the 110 hurdles. Along with Trayvon Bromell who set a 100m world leading time at the meet. I was able to get a few shots the day after I raced the 5k the night before.

Trayvon Bromell after setting a then world leading time of 9.88 in the 100m. Bromell takes a moment to pray and reflect after a long two year journey back to running after a bad achilles injury.

Grant Holloway moments after the 110 hurdles.

End of May, UNF was hosting the Outdoor East Regional yet again. This is one of my favorite times of the year as half of the running community gather at one meet in hopes to qualify for the national meet. A lot is on the line which brings out great performances and emotions. It seemed like every race there was a new facility record being set. I and a bunch of my teammates (who didn't make the meet) volunteer for the meet. It allows us unlimited access in and around the track. We take pride in helping out because it's our home and we want to put on a good show. This year the meet officials were very tight on media passes and I got yelled at for using my camera. Fortunately I was able to take some shots during the 10k. The race went off during the night. The runners ran under a "super moon" that loomed over the track, making for a beautiful night. UNF also had some runners in the meet, Nathan Jubran (10k) and Tim Doyle (800). The home field environment never fails. The regional meet is also special. My favorite memory was in 2019 when teammate Noah Perkins qualified for nationals in the 5k and my teammates and I rushed the field in excitement. I'll go into that story more in-depth on a later date.

Men's 10,000m run under the super moon.

Men's 1500m prelims. Every spot counts and the athletes put their body on the line to make the next round.

Fall semester had begun and I was in a new city, at a new school. I decided to pursue my masters at the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fl. Here I'm in the professional masters program studying journalism. This was the first fall in eight years that I wouldn't be running cross country. More damning to me was that I wouldn't be able to be with my teammates when they competed. With the cross country championships being hosted in Tallahassee, Fl by Florida State. UNF was also running every meet they hosted.. I had to go. Only a short two hour trip. The FSU Invite was in late September. FSU is known for being strict on certain parts of their course so I contacted my old schools athletics program and was able to get a press pass. The Apalachee Regional Parkway (known as The ARP for short) is the official home course for all runners in the state of Florida. It's where the high school state meet is and ever so often the NCAA south regional cross country meet. I've raced the course probably close to ten times. I know it like the back of my hand. I shot for UNF at the FSU Invite and Pre Nationals a month later in October. I also took this opportunity to shoot the rest of the field. I used these meets as practice for Nationals, getting my locations right. Here was able to get great photos of the top runners in the NCAA. I also shot some 35mm film. You can find those on a pervious blog post.

Noah Perkins (UNF) pushes around the bend in the mist.

Tim Doyle shows emotion post race after a stellar race. As a middle distance runner, cross country is not his forte but he still pushes himself as hard as he can every race.

Eliud Kipsang (Alabama) proves he is one of the best in the field.

Eliud Kipsang portrait.

Northern Arizona (NAU) men took home the win with Conner Mantz (BYU) took home the individual win. Both teams have a rivalry but are able to joke and connect post race.

The two top women work together before the final hill.

The post race shoot resembles a battlefield.

Nick Deal pushing his limits at the half way point of the 8k race.

In October I traveled to Disney where the ASUN Conference was being hosted. This is the conference that UNF competes in. I was blessed to be apart of three conference championship teams during my time there including this past winter XC season (where we scored 16 points. I have to brag). I was here more to cheer than take photos. By cheer I mean scream my butt off. The North Florida men took home the win that day, only team to win the ASUN XC title twice in the same year (thanks to COVID scheduling). I captured some of my most personal photos post race in the celebration. The moment when the men found out they won and the exuberance of joy. Emotions were flowing.

Tim Doyle (right) post race celebrating with his roomate.

Noah Perkins "eating the W" after leading his team to a win and second place individually. (Pro-tip: NEVER eat the W before a race. You will implode.)

The calm before the storm. The sunrise at ESPN World Wide of Sports was clouded but provided great racing conditions.


Two weeks later was the NCAA XC South regional meet in Huntsville, Al. I really didn't think I was going to be able to go but said screw it and drove nine hours there and back with my former teammate Michel. It was a special meet because a bunch of my teammates who weren't competing made the drive as well. Huntsville was a beautiful course and a nice change of scenery. Here, Ole Miss took a commanding win. North Florida took 5th which tied a program best. They set a school record for lowest points at the meet with 143. Two spots away from nationals. An emotional race for many reasons. The 10k course is a brutal distance mixed with the feelings of not making it and some seniors knowing this was their last XC race.

Mario Garica Romo (Ole Miss) celebrates after helping lead his team to victroy.

Pack running.

Ahmed Muhumed (FSU) breaks his opponent moments before the finish and he knows it.

Noah Perkins embraces his teammate after his last cross country race of his college career.

Noah Perkins and Aidan O'Gorman work together.

Dirty day.

November 20th, the NCAA National Cross Country Championship at FSU. I was a freelance photographer for this race and shot for Iowa State. A special race for many reasons. One, it's the national meet. The energy was off the charts. Teams ready to battle. Second, it was in Florida in my backyard. Running is a sport where you can span relationships across states and regions. I'd like to think I have a good relationship with the running community but it is mainly based in the Southeast. Here, the entire country was in Florida. It felt like a reunion for Florida runners as well. Seeing people I competed with in high school and college. I had an amazing time and a very memorable shoot. I was prepared by shooting the course twice before which helped me manage the craziness of the event. The most fun part was being able to meet many other runners and creatives. I liked to think during my runner years I was a decent runner, but the times were never what made me a part of the community. It was the conversations, the relationships, and all the good times with the people within it.

Jets flyover the Iowa State Women as they huddle before their race.

Conner Mantz leads the way mid race with Wesley Kiptoo (Iowa State) right on his heels.

Mantz and Kiptoo battle it out.

Kiptoo lead his team to a second place finish by placing second individually. He has a little pep in his step post race.

The women's race was packed up for most of the race.

Thomas Pollard celebrates with his family moments after securing 1st team All-American.

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