The 2020 Millrose Games at The Armory Track

How to draw the world's fastest runners

The Millrose Games is an international track and field event that takes place at The Armory, an indoor arena in Harlem, New York City. As an artist and runner, I wanted to go.

To my fortune, I was approved to attend as a member of the press, meaning I was able to sketch from close observation: at the starting line, under the pole vault pit, and in the press office after each race. To put it simply, it was a dream come true.

The illustrations you see here were made at the event and re-touched afterward with careful attention to gesture and storytelling.

I began my work with thumbnail sketches, which is a great way to warm up, explore different compositions, and illustrate a more general sense of environment and experience. One focus here was on the steel barriers along the perimeter–something many attendees would recognize, as it's what gives The Armory a "cage-match" feeling.

The Armory Track

As the night progressed, I spent more time drawing perspectives that included all aspects of the race–the runners, the press, the fans, and the arena. When the sprinters began, I had to shift gears and draw quickly, as I only had seconds before the gun went off. The same was true for the pole vaulters.

The Millrose Games
Sandi Morris at The Armory

Portraits and Special Moments

Some athletes, like Chris O'Hare and Sandi Morris, took special spotlights for their performances, so I wanted to find ways of illustrating what the night meant to each of them. Below is one original drawing from my sketchbook and one more rendered piece after post-work.

More illustration and animation