The XShot line of extendable camera arms and accessories is a product of and for the YouTube generation. As a still photographer who prefers to be behind the camera, I was skeptical about the usefulness of an item whose primary purpose is to enable you to film yourself in action and share your daring exploits with the world.

Still, I brought the XShot Pro Pole for GoPro with me to California in June on assignment for Canadian Geographic Travel, where I was to take part in a variety of outdoor adventures in Yosemite National Park and San Francisco. I figured chances were good that I’d end up capturing something epic (knowing my luck, probably the next viral “fail”).

Where the XShot Pro really came in handy was on the last day of my trip, when I took part in San Francisco’s legendary Bay to Breakers footrace, the longest-running race event in the world. From the moment I stepped into my corral at the start line, I was grateful for the XShot Pro. The pole extends to a maximum length of 32 inches and stays put without any locks or holds, affording my camera great views of the surging crowd, and the sturdy rubber handle made it easy to keep my grip and pan relatively smoothly from bizarre scene to bizarre scene. (Most people run Bay to Breakers in costume, and some have made a tradition of running it completely naked.) The pole is also made of lightweight aluminum and is only seven inches long when not extended, so it’s easy to stash in a pocket or a bag.

Prior to doing Bay to Breakers, the farthest I’d ever run was about five and a half kilometers, so after 12 kilometers I had no qualms about using the XShot for its intended purpose: to film myself proudly crossing the finish line.

Check out my video above, shot entirely with the GoPro Hero 4 attached to the XShot Pro Pole.