Inpatient, patient or persistent? How to find event photos before the event posts them

So I’m antsy – I want to see my race photos from Saturday. But, the folks at Ironman California (well, technically ASI photography) aren’t so quick. However, being a bit of a computer dude, I figured I’d trace through how they display photos and see if I could find them sitting in a non-published area. And – it turns out you can. These photos aren’t any different in size than what will ultimately be displayed on the web page preview, you just get to see them a few hours or days before everyone else. Again – you’re not getting full resolution versions or anything, just simply a look at the back end photo archive before they are fully listed.

Oh…and you have to have a crapload of determination and patience. But I did find my photos. This post is only applicable to Action Sports International Photos (ASI), and not any of the other ones out there.

Like most IT endeavors, usually back end content is staged before hand, and then the front end pages are updated to point to the then already existing content. This eliminates issues where web pages point to non-existent content due to delays in publishing/synchronization. Because of this we’re able to see the photos before the update the front end page telling you the photos are ready. Think of it like looking through the window in the oven. Sometimes you look in and don’t see anything happening, other times it’s nearly ready to go.

So…to begin:
(All of the below examples are for Ironman California 70.3…so if you want those photos, just click on the links – I’ve made it easy for ya)

  1. Determine what the event ID is. To get this, simply go to the front page of Action Sports International and find your event in the list. Then click on it, it will open the page up telling you that “you can signup to get e-mailed once the photos are ready’”.image
  2. After the page loads, in your address bar note that it says “EVENTID=######” where ###### is your event ID, just like below. Write this down.
  3. Ok, now here comes the complex part – copying and pasting. The next little hyperlink contains a link which brings you straight to the listing of all photographs. You need to REPLACE the EVENTID with your ID. It’s easiest to just copy/paste the whole thing to your address bar first and then just replace the digits at the end.
  4. Now you’re brought to a page which has a nifty drop down box for each portion of the event:
  5. At this point, you can start browsing through photos to find yourself. The trick is that they are constantly publishing photos – adding new ones. When you see the photos of the finish, remember that there are TWO camera angles, and only one of them will likely have you. So you have to go through the finish times twice to get to your time. Finding your photo using the above simply requires patience and persistence.

Are you ready to kick it up a notch?
But…pretend you’re really hardcore and want to find your photos NOW! Or…you’re just curious at how this works. Also…this next part gets a bit messy, so hold on.

  1. Look at the ID below the photos, it’s a three part number.
  2. That number has three components:
    1. First part: The event ID
    2. Second part: the digital ‘roll’, each roll contains roughly 35 photos
    3. Third part: The unique identifier within each roll (the counter up to about 35 photos)
  3. Now comes the fun part. Click on a photo – any photo.
  4. The page loads with the photo, like you’d expect. Now right click on the page (or the photo) and select “View Source”, this should open up Notepad or similar.
  5. From the edit menu (if in Notepad), select Find, and type in the following number:
  6. From there, you’ll be brought to a line of code within the page that identifies the grouping of photos that this event is within.
  7. Note the portion in the red box. You’ll need this. The number immediately following it is the event ID, then the batch/roll ID, and finally your photo.
  8. Navigate to the following link – but with changing the different parts to have your correct event numbers from above.

    Here’s what you need to change

    1. 206 > replace numbers with numbers found in step #6
    2. 31250 > replace with your EVENT ID
  9. Now that you’ve got them replaced open up that page. It should look like this:


  10. Now you’ll see a listing of every ‘digital roll’. Note the date modified. If you refresh the page a few hours later, you’ll likely see some photos being added – thus proof they are working on it.
  11. You can select any roll and look inside, it will then list a slew of photos, like the below:


  12. You’ll see how there are two versions of each photo – one with a ‘f’ after it, and the other with a ‘t’ after it. This stands for ‘full’ and ‘thumbnail’. Note again – these are not the high resolution images, these are simply the two preview versions you see, the thumbnail when looking at multiple photos and the full when looking at a single photo.
  13. Armed with all of the above, you can bumble around and browse for hours. And…eventually you’ll find a photo or two of yours. And then you’ll be bummed out when the photo doesn’t look so great…Like the below:

But I think I’ll wait till they publish them all. Cause really…I spend all day doing ‘how does it REALLY function’ kinda stuff all day for work. 😉

[Update]: So the photo above… Here’s the deal – as I came threw I did my whole ‘arms up’ thing, which worked out well as I crossed the banner. And then I put them down (logical, right?). Except that’s the moment that they decided to take my photo. Smooth I am…so smooth. Oh and yes…I use my ‘powers’ for good, not evil.


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  1. You are one persistent fellow. My eyes started glazing over as I worked through your instructions.

    Oh, and your photo is . . . interesting.

  2. Umm … wow. This is crazy. Just reassure us that you’ll only use this power of yours for good, not evil.

  3. SLB

    Like Donald said you’re on our side right!?!

    That finish line photo looks like your “wave” photo…did someone drop an ice cube down ya shirt!

  4. It took you that long to figure out? I could have told you in a second. :p

  5. this is insane. it’s basically you combining all of your skillz (computers and triathlon) into one giant project 🙂 And insane.

  6. Definitly nerd alert, I agree! It is truly amazing that you were determined enough to go through the back channels to find — that picture. Hope the others are better! 🙂

  7. At first I thought, “COOL! I am going to look for my photos from Lone Star that ASI took” then at about step 11 I thought I would just wait until they send me my email with my photos.


    You have too much time on your hands.

  8. you lost me at the red box or maybe even somewhere before the red box. this is worse than your garmin obsession. don’t you have any real work to do????

    fuckit, i’ll just wait ’til the photo company tells me they’re ready…

    oh, and to reward you for the hours you spent finding that bizarro finish pic, here’s the link to way better pics of you going in the water and your speedy ass run up to transition. there’s a bunch in succession, so click around. you’ll figure it out i’m sure…

    link to

    link to

    link to

  9. omg hilarious. you are too much! and, thanks! i’m the impatient kind, too. so i LOVE IT.

    and yeah, you kinda look like a zombie crossing the line.

    but, hell, you just finished a HIM, it doesn’t so much matter how you look!!!

  10. Was that the best picture you found? ASI is gonna love you for exposing their back door. Nice job in the HIM.

  11. Cool stuff – I’m sure I’ll refer back to this one after IMCDA. It’s also good for browsing since things are in real chronological order. For some reason, my number is NEVER visible and I have to surf based on people that I knew were near me.