Editor’s note: Ty Wivell is an avid adventure photographer and Lowepro’s National Sales Manager for the Outdoor Channel. In our completely biased opinion, he truly embodies the spirit of the Lowepro brand. Just a few days ago he participated in Vermont’s Tough Mudder adventure challenge, and along with friends Andrea Greeley and Jerry Monkman (a pro photographer and videographer from New England) documented the nerve, verve, sweat and determination of some of the 6,000+ athletes who gave it their all. Here’s his account.
Every photo assignment has its peculiar challenges, but when I signed up to capture the ‘Tough Mudder’ from the perspective of a participant, I knew I’d be pushing my body and my gear to the extreme.
Billed as the world’s “premiere adventure challenge”, the Mudder pits enthusiastic participants against a 10-mile obstacle course designed by British Special Forces to test “all-around strength, stamina, mental grit, and camaraderie.” And, with obstacles like “Everest”, “Devil’s Beard”, “Firewalker”, and “Electroshock Therapy”, the event certainly lives up to most of the hype.
But surviving the Mudder laden with an extra 25 lbs. of camera gear was the least of my concerns. As a ‘participatory journalist’, I was mostly worried about ‘getting the shot’ while also protecting and readily accessing my camera gear in the midst of rock-strewn mud, bone-chilling water, dust, smoke, and fire. Not to mention running, leaping, sliding, crawling, falling, and getting zapped with 10,000 volts of electricity!
Thankfully, my Photo Sport 200 AW not only met the challenge, but proved to be a perfect companion for this shoot. The pack’s protective Ultra-Cinch Camera Chamber secured my kit in rough terrain and frequent water sprays, but also provided rapid, off-the-shoulder access to my DSLR. And, the dedicated hydration pocket was essential to augment my water supply in the 90-degree heat. But, perhaps the pack’s most useful feature for this outing was the convenient side pockets on the hip belt, which provided quick, frequent access to my soft cloths to wipe the grime from my lenses.
Completing the Tough Mudder was an extremely satisfying experience. But, capturing its essence from the inside out was even more rewarding. Of course, like any dedicated photographer, I’m a glutton for self-punishment, consternating over the shots I missed, and training my eye (and legs!) toward next year’s event.
– Ty Wivell