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The official photo blog of J. David Buerk Photography.

Etihad at The Nation's Triathlon

Last month I photographed Etihad Airways' sponsorship of The Nation's Triathlon; the fourth time I've worked with the wonderful folks at Etihad Airways.  This time, however, presented the most challenging logistics of any shoot I've undertaken to date.  I'm accustomed to working under tight deadlines with rapid image delivery for press release and other publication; however, for the three-straight days in September covering Etihad's events surrounding Nation's Triathlon, my second shooter and I both maintained the ability to instantly live-upload each photo we shot to the Etihad social media team in Abu Dhabi.  Two photographers, multiple locations miles apart from one another, fully mobile, fully wireless, three days.  Our photos were live-uploaded and live-tweeted by Etihad while we were still on-site photographing - It was a huge success! My second shooter (Eddie) and I were separated over the course of all three days - we were in constant contact, however we were never in the same shooting location.  Eddie became close with the Etihad Cabin Crew who were working at Georgetown Cupcake leading up to the Triathlon while I spent time covering the Health and Fitness Expo.  Check out Eddie's highlights here.

My first task, however, was to photograph Omar Nour, an Egyptian professional triathlete who helped connect the Tri Yas in Abu Dhabi with Washington, DC's Nation's Tri, making them triathlon sister cities.  Omar is on his way to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.  Our photoshoot utilized the United States Capital Building as a backdrop,making our DC event location easily recognizable to anyone in the World.  Omar is very friendly and outgoing, and is a natural in front of the camera.

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The Health and Fitness Expo took place the two days prior to the Triathlon.  Sponsors and vendors offered samples, demonstrations, information, and wares to athletes and fitness enthusiasts.

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That Friday night, a VIP Party took place at the United Arab Emirates Embassy to commemorate the joining of The Nation's Triathlon and the Tri Yas in Abu Dhabi.

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The next night, after the Health and Fitness Expo, Etihad Airways presented passengers with complimentary cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcake at Washington Dulles International Airport.

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But of course, Sunday was the main event.  Since my photographic duty was to cover Etihad's sponsorship of the Triathlon, I was not able to document the entire event due to time constraints.  Though I had full access to the full course, including a chase motorcycle with my own driver (exactly like the Tour de France), I only had time to document the Swim course from a boat on the Potomac before the first finishers were due to cross the Finish line.

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The sunrise over the Lincoln Memorial and Washington Monument on the Potomac is probably the most beautiful sight I've seen in DC.

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However, what was more breathtaking was the incredible support for the Wounded Warriors competing in the triathlon.  The crowd cheered louder and louder as each veteran amputee exited the swim course and entered the transition area to begin the bike course.  It actually brought tears to my eyes as I watched the crowd's reaction as each veteran who had lost a limb, sometimes more than one, pass through the throng of spectators.  Everyone was united in cheering them on and showing their support.  It was incredible!

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Even though triathlons take several hours to complete, the first finishers were almost to the finish line - time flies, and so do professional triathletes!  Etihad Cabin Crew presented medals to the runners as they finished their race.

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The triathlon ended and was a huge success!  That night, in Etihad's Diamond First and Business Class Lounge at Dulles, there were more Swim / Ride / Run / Tri More, Etihad Georgetown Cupcakes for patrons to enjoy.

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As The Nation's Triathlon drew to a close, so did my own triathlon - three days of non-stop photo coverage, spanning across Washington, DC and into Northern Virginia.  I can't wait to do it again!