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Friday, July 25, 2008

NYC-Friday July 25th, 2008

Friday July 25th.
This was a last minute shoot that I decided to throw in when Lisa mentioned to me while filming at the Park on Monday that Catherine was scheduled for a Q&A/autograph session at Niketown on Friday as part of the race weekend leading up to the NYC Half Marathon presented by NIKE. I immediately started making calls and sending emails when I got back to the office on Monday. By Wednesday I had permissions to film at the event, as well as to follow Catherine while she did her shopping at Niketown. I should mention that Catherine LOVES to shop.

The weather on Friday was amazingly beautiful! I couldn't have asked for a more perfect day to trek around NYC! I got to Niketown and met the crew there. When I walked in to the store I was amazed! It is absolutely huge and gorgeous! It was 5 floors of retail with the center open and you can see all the way up. Each floor wraps around the center so you can also see down to the first floor from every other floor. There is also a basketball player suspended in mid-air as if making a jump shot. Each floor has it's specialty whether it be running, basketball, etc. We went directly to the third floor which was the running gear floor. The place was absolutely packed which was a bit surprising given that it was 11am, but then again, it was a race weekend so there were people in town from many places and a lot of tourists as well. Among the many people I obtained releases from (because they appeared on camera) were a woman from Tennessee, a woman from Georgia and a couple from Israel.

Catherine and Lisa arrived around 11:20 and we began filming as they shopped like two schoolgirls! They conferred on almost everything and I even had to ask Lisa to back away a little and be mindful of the camera because they are so used to shopping together and stayed so close that it was difficult sometimes to see Catherine! It didn't take long for people to get curious about the camera and audio and Catherine did not have her peace for very long. People we coming up and putting their arms around her shoulder and taking photos and making a commotion. Catherine was so gracious and let everyone take a photo with her. Some of the people knew who she was and some only knew after asking but all seemed excited to see her! She continued to shop moving from floor to floor, stopping on some and not on others. She shopped for herself, for her daughter, her husband, and even for one of the other runners who had arrived the day before. She is under contract to NIKE and therefore is given a certain amount of Nike credit to spend in the store and she is such a generous person that she gave both Lisa (her manager) and Mostafa (her coach) a portion of her credit for them to purchase something for themselves!

Filming in Niketown was a bit trying. As nice as the store is, it is a producer's nightmare because there is music constantly playing. Not only was it very loud, but it is also all very recognizable music and if I want to use any of the sound from there I would need to clear the music licenses and that is not only a pain but can be extremely expensive! Catherine ran in to Benita Johnson, an Olympic contender from Australia and they chatted for a bit. I asked Benita if she would say a few words on camera which she did with pleasure. My fear is, however, that I will not be able to use that footage because of the music in the background.

Anyway, it was almost 1:30 and we all had to be somewhere by 3 so it was time to wrap up and feed Mike (camera) and Juan (audio) and myself so we walked over near our next destination and grabbed lunch. At 3pm we reconvened with Catherine and Lisa and met up with Mostafa and Hosea (who is another Kenyan runner who had just arrived the day before so he could race on Sunday). We also met up with members of the NYRR (New York Road Runners club) and some of the other elite competitors (namely Benita Johnson and Hendrick Ramaala from South Africa) and we walked down to NASDAQ. These elite runners and members of NYRR were going to ring the closing bell at NASDAQ! It was very exciting as I have been to the floor of the NYSE but had never been to NASDAQ. I was not sure if I would be allowed to bring my film crew in but once we arrived we got the permission! After going through security and scanning our bags we were ushered in to the room where the bell is. There was a very small gallery for an audience and the Sr VP of NASDAQ gave an opening speech. Then the guests were called up and the President of NYRR, Mary Wittenberg, said a few words. Benita Johnson followed and then Catherine. Then, the organizer of the closing event asked everyone to start clapping. So we clapped...and we clapped...and we clapped....and she was hooting and hollering and making a lot of noise to cheer everything along....mind you this is all being broadcast live on the big screen in Times Square! Finally, with ten seconds to go before closing, giant numbers appeared on the background screen just like it was New Year's Eve and we all counted down....10...9...8...7...6...5...4...3...2...1.... and then Catherine "rang the bell" and everyone was cheering and whooping it up. I have to say it was all very exciting! And, we got it all on camera! After the closing, we were all ushered out to Times Square and a photo was taken of the athletes. Then we were ushered back in and we each got our photos taken individually and the pictures were printed out instantly superimposing each of us on the big screen in Times Square. So we each left with a photo of ourself in a little NASDAQ photo frame. That just topped off the experience! (you can see more photos here:

By this time it was almost 4:30 and we needed to set up for the next location which would be back near Niketown but out in the atrium attached. We decided to take a taxi so the guys wouldn't have to lug their equipment again. Catherine and Lisa joined us because Catherine was very tired; she had trained in the morning and it was non-stop ever since!

We got back to Niketown and the guys set up for the Q&A/autograph session scheduled to begin at 5pm. The session featured Catherine and Dathan Ritzenheim who is a cross country champion who will be competing in the men's marathon at the Olympics this year for the US. The emcee for the event was from NYRR, Sam, and he fielded questions from a nice little crowd that had gathered for the event. After half an hour the floor was opened up and the spectators were allowed to come up and take photos with the athletes and get autographed cards. There were two other athletes whose photos were on the cards, Colleen DeReuck (US) and Felix Limo (Ken) and those two would be hosting the same type of session on Saturday afternoon.

We finished shooting around 6:15pm and we were all exhausted. Lisa and Catherine headed back to their hotel and had arranged an invite for me to stay for the NYRR dinner. I waited for the crew to pack up and walked them to their parking lot and then I went to the hotel to meet up with Lisa and Catherine. They were relaxing in the room and I quickly joined in although cautiously because I was afraid if I got too comfy that I would not want to move again and I was traveling back to Philly that night! (They offered me to stay on the floor but I turned them down)

We had dinner across the street at the Hilton and it was nice to relax and just get to know Catherine a bit more in a different setting. She was sharing childhood stories with me and someone else and I saw a different side of her that I can't wait to explore on camera in the future! It was fun but it got late and I had to head back to the station to catch the train home. I got back home a little after 11 so it was an exhausting day but was a blast! I can't wait to see the footage; it should be great! I really would have liked to have stayed until the race on Sunday but was not prepared for it. It sounds like a lot of fun with everything they have planned during the race including showing it live on two huge screens in Times Square as well as having some of the Broadway show casts sing as they go past 42nd street.

I did however wake up early on Sunday to watch the race live on WABC=TV and was able to watch Catherine win by a nice margin (the inaugural year she won by less than one second, last year she lost by one second). You can see video of the finish here:
(For the record, Lisa's other runner, Hosea Rotich, came in 7th!)

Our next shoot will be on Wed. July 30th so be sure to check back! :-)

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