We all long for a career doing something we love.
Some of us find passion in a hobby.
Ben Gray has both – and a way to combine them in a new creative project on social media.
Five days a week, Ben, 43, wraps his iPhone in a plastic baggie and tucks it into the inside-waistband pocket of his running shorts. Then Ben – an award-winning photojournalist and an ultra-marathon runner — hits the streets, trails and backroads of Atlanta for runs that can last several hours.
Along the way, when he spots something that would make a good photo, he stops, takes out the iPhone, gets a quick shot – and uploads it to his Instagram account with the #runography hashtag.
Ben estimates he’ll log 2,000 miles this year. He’s burned 163,000 calories so far in 2014. This year, he ran his first 100-mile race. And he only started four years ago (not counting high school track).
At age 39, Ben had covered the Peachtree Road Race for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for many years. He always thought it looked like fun, so he decided to start training for the 10K.
“I hated it when I started,” he says now. “The turning point was when I could go a distance and actually get somewhere. I could find different routes and check out different neighborhoods.”
Soon he was running from the AJC’s Dunwoody office to the Lindbergh MARTA station. His wife and two kids would drive from their Southwest Atlanta home to their Decatur church 11 miles away, and he’d meet them there on foot.
The Peachtree led to his first marathon, then first 50K, 50-miler, 100K and onward.
That takes a lot of training, but a photographer’s eyes are never blind to what he’s passing. The iPhone is easy to carry and Ben likes the constraints of it and posting the shots immediately. No fuss, no filters, no slowing the heart rate — and no treating it like an assignment for work.
He’s growing a following on Instagram and considering ways to take #runography to another level.
“It’s really about what I like and what I’m seeing,” he says. “And hopefully, other people like it, too.”
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