Race Photos: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

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Last night while scrolling through the feed of one of my Facebook Running groups, I saw that someone had posed this question. I seriously wondered if it was a joke. A makeup refresh station??? I thought I learned long ago not to make even an innocent comment on public posts. It’s just fodder for the trolls. But of course I had to comment, with an imbedded ‘settle down, trolls’ disclaimer:

By this morning there were a number of new comments, some were for, but most were against the idea of wearing makeup for a race. The general consensus was, ‘whatever floats your boat’. One person commented that she would look like this if she ran with makeup, which just cracked me up. Maybe that’s why most of us choose not to do it!

I enjoyed this bit of humor, and then moved on to the blogs. I started with one of my favorites, Marcia’s Healthy Slice. This week’s Tuesdays on the Run linkup is about best/worst race photos. Which got me thinking…maybe this makeup refresh station isn’t such a bad idea after all! Marcia asked in her post whether or not people buy or display race photos. My first race was the 2013 Chicago Marathon. Since this was my first race, I bought a (way too pricey) package ~ several 5″ X 7″ photos and the generic race DVD. The photos are in a drawer in the envelope they came in. I’m not sure what I did with the DVD. Since then, I have run six marathons – each of the past five Chicago Marathons, and the Marine Corps Marathon last year. Just as I’ve always tried to treat my kids equally (they might beg to differ), I’ve treated each of my marathons equally. I buy two photographs, one of me running through the finish line with my hands up in the air, and one of me posing at the race backdrop with my medal around my neck. They’re all in the same drawer in the envelopes they came in. I’ve never bought photos from my smaller races. Not that I don’t value them; it’s just that race photos are too darned expensive. But I still feel obligated to treat all my kids marathons the same and keep buying my standard two.

I’ve had people tell me in the past that I am photogenic. I don’t know about that. There is literally one photo from my son’s recent wedding that I think I look good in. Don’t get me wrong–the photos are absolutely beautiful, and I think everyone in them looks amazing…except me. I’m sure some of you know the feeling. We’re our own worst critics.

Anywho, back to the photos. So here are the two ‘standard’ pictures I buy, from my first marathon in 2013. I love them! I’m not even sure how good I think I look in them (they’re not bad), but I had never run in my life and had just completed a marathon. What’s not to love? Now, before we move on:  I still laugh at the picture on my left, with the earbuds in my ears. I put them in before the race started, but with all the excitement and listening to the pre-race announcements, I just started the race and forgot to turn my music on. I ran the entire race with the buds in my ears but with no music. Doh! And the pic on the right…is that a sweaty crotch I see? UGH. I have similar pictures from each of my marathons (minus the earbuds and hopefully minus the sweaty crotch), so I won’t bore you with all of those. I’ve searched the archived website photos and found a few good ones. Needless to say, I didn’t purchase them.


One of my less flattering photos from the 2013 Chicago Marathon.


Looking cashed near the end at the 2014 Chicago Marathon.


2015 Chicago Marathon. This might be my all-time favorite.


2016 Chicago Marathon. I’m starting to see a pattern here.


2017 Chicago Marathon. I look like I’m about to fall over. Probably felt like it, too.


Here I am ruining someone else’s photo op in front of the Washington Monument at the 2017 Marine Corps Marathon. Oops.


How about you? Do you buy your race photos? Do you display them? Yay or nay on makeup during a race? Do you think these makeup refresh stations will be a thing?

I’m linking up with Marcia, Patty, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run, Annemarie and Nicole for Wild Workout Wednesday, and Debbie, Rachel, and Lora for Running Coaches Corner! Be sure to check them all out, along with the other great posts from this week’s linkups!




  1. This link up is so fun – I love looking at everyone’s race photos! I wish I had more of them….I probably should start buying them. I just hate how I look in most haha

    1. Author

      I don’t always love the pictures, but I will buy a couple anyway. Someday I’ll be very old and will get a big kick out of looking at them!

  2. I’ve got some gems from my marathons–there’s even one when I have my eyes closed! LOL

    Makeup at a race? Are you kidding me?

    1. Author

      I swear it seems the photographers catch us at some of our worst moments at these races! Yeah, I just don’t get the makeup thing. To each his own!

  3. I’ve never heard of a makeup refresh station! My last half it was raining so I did not wear a stitch of makeup. It would have been running all over my face! If it’s not too warm, I do. I buy pictures only from special races nowadays. You are right! They are too expensive! I enjoyed all of your pics!

  4. I never buy the pics. If they were half the actual price, I’d definitely consider it, though 😉 I do not go all-out stage make-up for a race, but I do the “required” eyeliner and lipstick thing. My 1-mile race last week…I had my Ipod with me, but in the craziness of our warm-up run and jumping immediately into the line-up…I totally forgot to even put the earphones in. I didn’t even realize it until after I’d finished LOL Fortunately, It was only 1 mile 😉

    1. Author

      I just love when the races have free pics (who doesn’t?). I’d buy at least one from every race if they weren’t so pricey, so you have to pick and choose.

  5. I never wear make up to race (why??) but I know plenty who do. At least all your pics are stashed away in one place. I’m like a squirrel I guess. It’s anybody’s guess where I put mine. Not displayed, that’s all I can say. Haha!

    1. Author

      I’m not that organized generally, but I do have two file folders in a drawer–one with the race photos, and one with the bibs. I thought at first I might display them in my workout room, but hanging the medals is enough for me!

  6. Funny, a bunch of my MRTT friends ran that race last weekend and no one mentioned seeing that touch up station. I don’t think I have a problem with it. It’s your own choice as to whether you want to take part in it. It’s a new one though!

  7. Wow a make-up refresh station? That just seems absurd to me!

    I agree that you are very photogenic – I really like the race photos you selected! I think it’s always great how a race photo can tell a story.

    1. Author

      Thanks! My during-race pictures are generally not that flattering, but I’ve been fairly happy with all of the ‘official’ post-race pictures!

  8. I think your photos are great! I’ve had some real doozies in my life. Hahah.

  9. I like the “before the race” photos and the “after you finish and can get cleaned up” photos, usually taken (and re-taken) by friends. My during the race photos are never pretty.

  10. I love all your pics – I have ones that look like I was hit by a truck lol. I can’t help but laugh at the idea of a “make up refresh station”….I get wearing make up if you want to but having a place to fix your face during a race is just hilarious.

    1. Author

      Thanks! I of course buy the ones I don’t look half-bad in it. Someday I’ll look back at them and think, ‘how the heck did I do that?’

  11. I’m giggling so hard over here 🙂 love the commentary on your photos. I have so many photos where I’m thinking “WHAT THE HECK AM I DOING?” Or “am I even running?”

    I have bought photos but I still haven’t printed or displayed them! One I bought was actually a printed photo of my friend Babette and I – this one I have taped on the inside of my clothes cupboard 🙂 So I do see that one every day! I bought photos for my husband too. He always yells at me “DON’T BUY FROM THE MARATHONFOTO MAFIA!” He always looks like he’s on dope in his photos, so when I do see the odd good one, I buy it!

    Make up at a race? Meh. Whatever floats your boat. I always have mascara and maybe a tinted spf bb cream but nothing else. I have a friend who runs marathons and she is fully made up. It’s her thing and doesn’t do any harm to anyone so, why not?

    1. Author

      I just don’t know how anyone’s make-up would stay in place for a race–especially the long-distance ones. I’d be a smeared-up runny mess!

  12. I have never purchased a professional race photo! No matter what I do, I always look terrible in them! I have a few good candid shots my husband has taken over the years, but I really don’t want to spend $ unless I look at least half human! Haha

    1. Author

      I thought my first marathon (also my first race) was my one-and-done race, so I bought a bunch then. Now I feel ‘obligated’ to buy at least one or two from each marathon.

  13. Weird, I’ve never heard of a make-up refresh station before! I rarely even wear make-up to work, there’s no way I’m going to get up in enough time before a race to do it 🙂 I’ve noticed that wearing sunglasses definitely helps with my race photos coming out better 🙂

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