Photo Gallery: The Beauty and Emotion of Trail Running

[Editor’s Note: This article is photographed and written by Jean-Baptiste Joly. After a 10-year career in the banking industry, Jean-Baptiste now splits his time between the Alps and the Pyrénées in Europe to pursue his passion for outdoor sports and photography. He believes photography is a way to keep and cherish memories of moments that are unique. He also believes that a picture is a way to question, to imagine, and to dream. You can reach him at [email protected] and see his work on Instagram at @jb_joly.]

At the beginning of 2016, after more than a decade of training and racing, I was so tired of cycling that I sold my three bikes and all my equipment. At that time, I was based in Paris, France, and the easiest way to stay fit was running. My new endeavor was not love at first stride, but I liked the simplicity: a pair of shoes, shorts, and endorphins.

After a few weeks, I became more and more interested in the sport, reading race reports, and watching videos. Then I discovered my inspiration: Anton Krupicka. It sounds cliché, but I felt so inspired by his personality and lifestyle. So that summer, I decided to spend a week running in the Alps.

I camped at Vallorcine, a small village in the Chamonix Valley of France, and my love affair with trail running began. I was hooked on the landscapes, as well as a feeling of freedom which reminded me of my childhood. As a family, we spent our summer holidays in the mountains. Trail running became a big part of my life and has been my platform for adventures ever since.

Our sport is highly photogenic, and I was in awe of the book Grand Trail: A Magnificent Journey to the Heart of Ultrarunning by Frédéric and Alexis Berg. Photography came into my life a few years into my trail running experience. I learned with a 15-year-old camera given to me by my dad a few months before I decided to quit my job in banking and finance.

Spending that following summer taking pictures of the sport I loved sounded like a great idea, so I went. I was initially obsessed with landscapes; my goal was to show the beauty of nature we are lucky to experience.

The more I photographed, the more I thought I was missing something, so I focused my lens closer and closer to runners. With my photos, I try to answer the questions of who are they, what do they feel, and why do they run?

Both mountains and human beings are a source of emotion and inspiration, and that’s what I try to capture. This gallery sums up my intention during the summer of 2021, my first as a photographer.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - runners crossing a bridge in the mountains

Runners crossing a bridge through the mountains. All photos: Jean-Baptiste Joly

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Nienke Brinkman - 2021 Skyrhune - cresting the top of the hill spectators watching

Nienke Brinkman cresting the top of an incline at the 2021 La Skyrhune surrounded by a cheering crowd.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Thibaut Baronian amidst the crowd 2021 Skyrhune

Thibaut Baronian runs through a crowd of cheering spectators at the 2021 La Skyrhune.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Marcin Kubica - 2021 Skyrhune - catching his breath

Marcin Kubica pushes to the top of an incline at the 2021 La Skyrhune.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Runner sleeping in grass - 2021 UTMB

An exhausted runner sleeping in the grass at the 2021 UTMB.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Top Women Pre 2021 UTMB - taking a selfie

Some of the top women at the 2021 UTMB, including Ragna Debats, Emily Hawgood, Brittany Peterson, Audrey Tanguy, Katie Schide, Courtney Dauwalter, Beth Pascall, and Camila Bruyas, take a selfie during the awards ceremony.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Emily Harrop running downhill 2021 Skyrhune

Emily Harrop navigates a steep downhill at the 2021 La Skyrhune race.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Scotty Hawker - 2021 CCC - finish line emotion

Scotty Hawker has an emotional finish at the 2021 CCC.

Trail Running Photo Gallery - Jean Baptiste Joly - Finish Line - 2021 UTMB - post-race exhaustion

A runner lays down in exhaustion at the finish line of the 2021 UTMB.