Rarely do you see a track star run at meets and then turn into a photographer for their teammates. Caterina Piper, however, is an exception.
A cross-country runner from Marblehead, Piper combined her passion for running with her love for photography. With six years of running experience, Piper has found a way to capture the spirit of track meets through her lens, sharing her talent with her teammates and the wider track and field community.
Piper’s journey into the world of sports began when she was just 11 years old. Like many kids, she wanted to participate in a sport but sought for something accessible and suitable for her age. That’s when she decided to join the cross-country team at her school, embarking on a journey that would shape her athletic and creative interests.
“I have been running cross country and track for six years now,” Piper said. “ I participated in running for all seasons of the year. I do cross country in the fall, winter, and spring track, and then summer training for cross country.”
Caterina’s dual interests in running and photography converged when she realized the value of having photos of herself in action.
“I’ve always wanted photos of myself running, but for a couple of different reasons,” Piper said. “I could use them to analyze my stride, to post pictures on social media, and to remember each meet. I figured that everyone else wanted photos too, which is why I started taking pictures.”
Her journey as a photographer began in the fall of 2021, thanks to her father, who lent her his Nikon semi-professional camera. Since then, she’s been capturing the essence of track meets, taking the opportunity to shoot her events whenever she’s not racing. Whether it’s a cooldown jog, cheering for her teammates, or capturing the action on the track, Piper’s camera is her constant companion.
Piper’s coach, Nolan Raimo, said that Piper has always been a “team player” in every aspect and that the track team highly appreciated Cat’s contributions both on and off the field.
“Cat’s photography is absolutely incredible,” Raimo said. “I think all the parents, grandparents, and friends are so happy that they see their kids on the track because of Cat.”
Seeing her father take photos during family vacations and her sister’s interest in photography led Piper to explore her creative side. After her sister graduated in 2021, the camera remained unused, gathering dust on a shelf. Caterina decided to change that, starting with capturing everyday moments, from her dogs to the scenic beauty of her surroundings. What truly sparked her photography expedition was a conversation she overheard among senior boys discussing framing running pictures for their college dorms.
“I thought the idea was genius,” Piper said. “But cross country and track get very little attention. I decided to take the issue into my own hands, and I started taking pictures whenever I could. Again, with no camera experience besides what I taught myself, my pictures sometimes turn out dark or blurry. I have to thank the camera for doing its job very well — I just try to find the right place and the right time.”
Piper’s dedication to her sport doesn’t stop with her photography. A champion on the field, her preparation for track meets involves a whole lot of dedication and hard work.
“Cat is a relentless worker,” Raimo said. “I don’t think she had a natural-based talent for distance running. But I think what’s most impressive is just her discipline and the ability to work all year long. Every day, she just gets a little bit better. Even the kids that are more talented than her, she’ll catch up with them just in a matter of time.”