Berlin - through the eyes of Jojo Harper

Jojo Harper is an award winning documentary photographer based between London, England and Girona, Spain. Jojo has a history of capturing emotional and unique moments in cycling. Documenting this years Berlin Marathon has given fresh eyes into the running world. Read and see her experience of Berlin Marathon 2021 through her words and selected photos below.

To me these images sums up the solitude of running, even during a race. To me, marathon running seems to be very much a competition for individuals rather that of a team. Although there are a lot of misconceptions, cycling is very much a team sport. The team are all working together to help one rider win the race. As well as this they have team radios and their team directors are beside them or behind them, guiding them a helping for the duration of the race.

Three team-mates stretching together, but at the same time alone. This to me looks like a lonely experience, no smiles, so communication, banter or conversation. All three men are focused, silent and alone. Pre bike race the team are all together in a team bus, chatting, laughing and psyching themselves and each other up with loud music and words or encouragement.

Last minute nerves in the form of running to the loo. I am not a professional runner or cyclist, but to me it would be much more nerve racking to be competing alone. The pressure is on, especially for favourite, Kenenisa. Of course every cyclist has a job and feels the pressure, but the pressure isn’t all on one rider. One rider is usually the leader, but it is up to the rest of the team to get them over the finish line first, the pressure is shared.

Saying a little prayer in the hotel lobby pre race. This isn’t something I see often in cycling, but maybe I was just lucky to catch her in the process. If this is something that an athlete wants to do in private then in cycling there are a lot more places to hide. They have big team bus’s with lots of space and room for privacy. For the marathon, all the athletes were waiting in the hotel lobby together with very little space to hide.

Warming up pre race. This isn’t the norm in cycling. Riders normally only warm up for a Time trial criterium ( short fast race).

In cycling there are a lot of photographers (behind the scenes). When I was shooting the runners pre race I was literally the only photographer there, I was wondering where everyone was. It doesn’t seem the norm in running to have photographers ‘back stage’. I only saw photographers on the start and finish line. I cant work it out, maybe these guys were caught off guard/ were surprised to see me.

That look of disappointment when one doesn’t perform to the standard that they wanted to. Kenenisa was favourite and he finished in third place. I get shots like this a lot in cycling. Disappointment is a huge part of professional sport.

Although there is an athlete on the ground exhausted, I was actually more drawn to the photographers on the ground. You would never seem this in cycling. All the photographers are far behind the finish line, standing in a designated area. Here the photographers are lying on the ground about 10 meters after the line. In cycling this wouldn’t happen because of the pure speed that the riders come over the line at.

Post finish hug. Again, something that happens alot in cycling, but usually between team mates, not competitors.

A very similar image to something you would see in cycling. Exhausted having given it their all. I noticed at the marathon, that not every runner had a team of staff around them helping them. The organisers of the race were doing a lot of the post race duties.

Post race wash. In cycling the riders go straight back to the bus, where they have showers and can clean up in privacy. In Berlin they were all washing and stripping in public.

These image were taken about half an hour after these athletes had finished. As I mentioned before, in cycling they would spend no time at the finish line and would go straight to the comfort of a big bus with food and a shower. These guys didn’t seem to have that luxury.

Moments after Adola was awarded his gold medal at the ceremony. I caught him alone reflecting on what had just happened. I thought this was quite a special moment, because up until then he had been surrounded by people.

A real reflection on how hard running is on the body. The majority of athletes came over the line broken. Cyclists do about 100-140 race days a year where as marathon runners would do a max of 2 marathons a year.

Maurten would like to thank all participants for this years intense Berlin Marathon. See more of Jojo's work over on her website .