The Best Photos of 2017

There’s something that happens when two people are neck and neck going into the final 400 meters, something that comes out between the stages of the Tour and can be found in the most remote places athletes dare to venture. It’s the human spirit, raw and unfiltered, in a way it can only be captured when the body is near its breaking point. It’s the desire to keep exploring; upwards, outwards, any way we can go that gets us farther from the familiar. It’s the way people come together when they are mutually motivated by the same crazy desire to propel their bodies farther and faster than they ever have before.

These are our favorite photos from the past year — the shots that captured that spirit. You’ve probably seen them before, or if you’re lucky, you’ve been through a moment that felt similar. Between the start and the finish are the multitudes of emotion that make us athletes and these images capture that better than any others.

Grit

Richie Porte at the Tour de France by Jered Gruber

“All I remember is I was trying so hard to persuade my quad to take another step and it just was telling me to go fuck myself. I have never felt such rebellion from my body against my brain as I felt on that summit ridge.” This is how Adrian Ballinger felt standing in sight of the summit of Mount Everest. But the memory of his failed summit attempt a year ago motivated him to keep pushing one foot in front of the other until he’d finished what he started – summiting the world’s tallest peak without supplemental oxygen.

April for Athletes Unfiltered by Harry George Hall

“Within an hour of the start I could feel the sweat running down the backs of my legs from my soaked shorts… With sunset not until 9 p.m., I braced myself for a long day of suffering. I knew it was coming. I just hadn’t expected it to start so soon.” When James Poole set off to run across the island of Mallorca in under 24 hours, he knew it was going to be hot. But he didn’t know how hot he would get. Just like Icarus, who flew too close to the sun, James started to burn up. Unlike Icarus, James didn’t die.

James Poole, Mallorca: FKT by James Carnagie
Tashia for Athletes Unfiltered by Harry George Hall
Runners at the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc by Alexis Berg
Jax Mariash running the 4Deserts arctic race

Camaraderie

Berlin Marathon by Harry George Hall

“I was dropping at that point. I was done. I had no fight left, and then she comes in super bubbly and so positive. She just sat beside me, we chatted and she's like, ‘You're not stopping. You're not stopping.’ And she kept talking, then she grabbed my hand and said, ‘Come on. You're going with me in the boat. We're going to the boat.’” Stephanie Case grabbed Kaci Lickteig’s hand at the Western States 100 and the two sent a message to anyone who’s thought about quitting: get in the boat!

Western States by Matt Trappe and Ryland West
Athletes Unfiltered by Harry George Hall

Six runners set off to run from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, one running at a time, all day and night. But after 340 miles living together on an RV, it felt like they were all running together.

London's "Chat laps", for Athletes Unfiltered by Harry George Hall

Adventure

Paul for Athletes Unfiltered by Harry George Hall

“With each trip that we do, we learn to worry a little less about where we're going to sleep that night or what's going to happen that day, and just go with the ride and see what happens. You have to be able to let go and assume that it will all work out in the end.” – Marion Shoote following her trip Bikepacking in The Altai. Whether it’s the park behind your house or the high plains of Mongolia, sport encourages us to explore places we’d never have ventured otherwise.

Bikepacking the Altai by Jack Chevell
Horseshoe Bend in Arizona by Philip Reiter
The Strava Mile by Alexis Berg
Mountain Bikers in Jackson, Wyoming by Elliot Ray-Wilkinson

Celebration

Stephanie Case after scraping under the 24 hour mark at the Western States 100. Photo by Matt Trappe.

"Even on the final descent, I couldn’t believe it. I almost fell to the ground, I was convinced that anything could happen." – François d’Haene, after winning the Ultra Trail de Mont Blanc. Whether it’s after 5k or 200k, there’s nothing like accomplishing something you thought was impossible.

François D'Haene after winning the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc by Alexis Berg
The Berlin Marathon by Harry George Hall
Matt for Athletes Unfiltered by Harry George Hall

“My mile PR was from when I was 14 years old. I ran in college, never broke it, and finally broke it today. I wasn’t expecting to PR. I got here late and didn’t really warm up. But maybe that’s what I needed to not get in my head.” – Stassja, after running the Strava Mile in Los Angeles

The Strava Mile by Da Ping Luo

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While every sports story shares the same themes, the details are as varied as the athletes who compete. Post your story on Strava and on other social networks using the hashtag #AthletesUnfiltered.

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