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24 Hours at the Ragnar Rally

on Location with Alchemi Labs Sun Hats

This past weekend the Reelbros team found ourselves out in the back country, working with a local Arizona company with a rather innovative product for the long distance runner. Two 30 second spots were to be captured on location at the McDowell Mountain Ragnar Relay race, a 24 hours Ultra marathon that would see a team of five runners taking turns at conquering three different loops. The team would be don the award winning models of hats throughout the race, each one featuring aggressive ventilation as well as radiant barrier technology first used by Nasa on the space suits. The radiant barrier is a material placed on the sun facing surfaces of the hats that is designed to reflect the suns harmful rays away from the runners head, making for a cooler run, especially in the Arizona deserts.

We arrived on location just north of Fountain Hills in the early morning, and immediately began setting up our equipment to capture the start of the race. The Reelbros team came to a quick realization that today would be a dusty day, the arch nemesis of camera sensors. Before we even head time to break open the Pelican Cases, they had already been covered in a thin coat of dust. The day would be a battle of getting the shot, and keeping the cameras clean. Once we were setup and had our three rigs built, we followed the team out to the shoe where they would be setting off on their 24 hour journey.

Our positions set we waited for the runners to be set off. An announcement came over the speakers, and as the clock passed 10:30 am they set off. Captured in 60 fps on the RED Scarlett, while John and Brandon gave chase with gimbals.

During the first outing, John had managed to stumble into one of the many cactuses that littered the ground just off the course. So back at base the next few minutes were spent pulling spikes from his leg with a multi-tool. Sometimes you have to do some crazy things to get the shot and this is a perfect example of it. After some necessary hydration, we would head out for round two to find the Alchemi runner on the course and keep telling their story.

Morning had shifted to the early afternoon, and the team needed to start wrapping up to transition to a second shoot across Phoenix, so we pulled out the drone to capture some aerial footage from above, as we also prepared a quick interview setup to get some dialogue from the marathoners themselves. After that it would be a quick pack up and then off to an event for ASU at Schnepf Farms in Queen Creek. We would be returning to the race in the early morning of the next day with plans to capture some of the late night running, and the beautiful sunrise over the desert horizon.



After what seemed like a never ending day, and barely a few hours of sleep, the team found ourselves back out in the McDowell Mountain Range to film day two of the Ragnar Relay. While we had broken off to shoot another project in Queen Creek, the runners had continued on with their pace throughout the night, just an hour before sunrise the team was sitting in first place for their division. The air wasn't as cold as expected as we unloaded the wagon for a second time, being reminded that we were surrounded by dirt. The flashlight beam shined down onto the gimbal as we placed the A7Sii onto it, a constant saturation of dust moved through the beam of light. It was now around 5:30 AM, just over an hour until the 6:50 AM sunrise. We set out into the the race village to capture the emotions surrounding the late night push.

As the atmosphere of darkness began to shift to the early morning blues, we headed back to the wagon to setup the RED Scarlett for the sunrise. Finding high ground on a man made pile of dirt, we setup the rig teetering on top of the hill pointed east to capture what would be an amazing Arizona sunrise.

It was a rewarding sight to watch the sun come up, I could only imagine how it felt for the runners who had been carrying their teams throughout the darkness of night. The race would come to a close with the Alchemi Labs team crossing the finish line a shortly after 12:30 PM. We had exhausted all our batteries and memory cards, capturing their story. It was now time to head home and catch up on missed sleep. Once we woke up it would be time to compile the footage and begin to piece together the story of what we had just witnessed.


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