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If you knew Nancie Like I know Nancie

June 18, 2013 - John Stack
This past week, the Enterprise had a great article on a friend of mine, freelance photographer Nancie Battaglia. Yes, Nancie is a world class photographer and has covered 10 Olympics and appeared in countless magazines. But, amazing as it is, most of us don’t know Nancie because of her photography. I had lived in Saranac Lake just a few months when I competed in my first Black Fly Duathlon in 2000. That was an awesome event that Jim Tucker put on up in Paul Smiths that drew people from far and wide each Tuesday night. It was a 2K run through the woods, a 15K bike, then a 2K run in the woods again. On the first loop, I was able to find my way following the pack. But, not only had I never ran the course, I had no idea of the bike course (simple as it is). I ended up behind Nancie on the bike and followed her in (I think she suspected me of drafting!). I then followed her through most of the woods and passed her near the finish (classy move, eh?). I kept returning and so did she. I then saw a 2 page spread in Sports Illustrated with her name. I asked her the next week (quite naively as it turns out) if it was her first pic in SI! She politely told me that no, it wasn’t .

Although we are not real close friends, she was one of the first friends I made here. She was (and still does) a person who did lots of the local races – Blackfly, Lake Placid Mini-tris, Whiteface Mountain Uphill Footrace, so I ran into her a lot. When I started sliding skeleton in 2001, lo and behold who was there? Nancie photographing all the sliding sports. She knew the stories of the sliders even before Jimmy Shea and ‘Night Train’ thrust the sliding sports higher up than they had ever been. One slider even worked for Nancie in her photo lab.

When she showed up at a pre-race party for my Ironman in 2005, I didn’t introduce her as a world famous freelance photographer. She was a fellow triathlete. I remember years ago I had just finished half of a century ride with Placid Planet that finished at the old Fitness Center in Placid (Now a drugstore). She pulled me aside and asked if I would go for a 3 mile run. She had signed up for Tinman, she hadn’t told anyone, and wanted to go for a run inconspicuously. I don’t know how many she has done now. Oh, and I still owe her a documentary I shot on first time Tinman triathletes that I haven’t finished of which she is one of the subjects. When I did Ironman, coming out of the second lap of swim, who do I see? Nancie there still taking pics of us end of the pack swimmers. She also got a number of pics of me on the course. I just pulled the pics out at lunch today, and they are among the best pics of me I could imagine from the ironman (OK – Lou Reuter also got me some great pics from ironman, but I didn’t know him then, and its how I actually met him thru odd circumstances involving bad lighting on my race number).

You’ll never squeeze it out of her, but she is fast. In her age group at Boilermaker, she consistently finishes near the top. To meet her, you wouldn’t know she was really a competitor. What comes across from her is her incredible normalcy. Everybody knows her, and everyone likes her. But she’s not gregarious. She doesn’t really toot her own horn. Well, wait. If and when she passes you on the bike (or if you are lucky enough to pass her) on the mini-tri course she will ring her bell that is on her bike. I know she’s had that bell through at least 3 bikes. And she is competitive, even if only against herself. Just check her coming off the bike and transitioning to the run in a mini-tri. I think she might drop like 8 seconds on her transition and she is gone.

I know she doesn’t train specifically for anything. She runs when she wants/can. Bikes when she can. (OK – I know a lot of this from the unfinished documentary!!) And she hikes a lot (of course she is a multiple 46er). So, Nancie may be a world class photographer, but she’s also a world class person. So, if ya want to see her professional work, she has an exhibit going on currently over at the LPCA. To see her as a person, look quickly on Monday nights and you might get a glimpse of her zooming by ringing the bell on her bike.


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