The New York Times recently posted a slideshow of portraits of marathon runners who had just finished the New York City Marathon.
Jason Kottke asked why none of them looked exhausted. I can think of a few possible reasons:
1. The photographer and the photo editor decided not to print photos of people who look exhausted out of sympathy or for aesthetic reasons.
2. They didn’t stick around long enough to take photos of people towards the back of the pack, who would tend to be in worse shape.
3. The subjects had to consent beforehand. People who know or suspect they look terrible wouldn’t agree to have their photo taken.
4. These aren’t faces of people crossing the finish line, they are faces of people who had the energy to deal with a photo shoot immediately after crossing the finish line. It’s a small, self-selected sample; out of the 40,000+ people who ran, I’ll bet you can find 100 people who can run a marathon and look (relatively) fresh as a daisy.
5. You’re being fooled by the smiles. Take a closer look at the eyes.
My guess is that 5 is the most likely, followed by 4, 1, 3, 2.
Update: When randomly clicking through the list the first time, I found a lot of evidence for #5 above. When randomly clicking through the list a second time, I didn’t see much evidence for #5. I’ll have to reorder my choices as 4, 1, 3, 5, 2.