Imagine entering a room where all of your dreams are being stored, walk into the room and just pluck a dream from the shelf, open it up and dive into it. That's what The Trail Running Film Festival was for me. What's more, I don't think I have ever been surrounded by so many people that share the same dreams and love for the mountains and running as I do. Instead of being afraid of running 100 miles of hell, they join in. Many in the audience completing more races and runs than I could dream of. I sat in a room of my idols as we watched people share their stories in film. We laughed that the same jokes and cried for the same losses. The unity of shared passions was overwhelmingly powerful.
I have held many dreams to myself, tentatively sharing tid bits here and there to my friends but this festival showed me it is silly to be afraid to go for the things that you love. Why not? What would I have to lose? After being surrounded by so many people who love crazy adventures as much as I do I announced that I will be running my first 100k and 100 mile ultra marathons this coming year.
There were way too many films showed at this event to go through and talk about every single one of them. I purposefully waited a few days to write this report, I wanted to see which films were still with me. The ones that left a last impressions versus a fleeting glimmer.
These films below have made that list. Most of these are full films but some are just previews.
30 Hours (2016) Directed by Alex Massey 12 min
Running 100 miles is tough, running 100 miles when you’re 72 years old is unimaginable. Unless you're Wally Hesseltine. Follow Wally as he pushes his aging body to the absolute limit in his quest to become the oldest ever finisher of the world's most prestigious ultramarathon - the Western States 100.
100 miles. 30 hours. One unforgettable finish.
Talk about being on the edge of your seat!!! I almost fell off mine when watching this. This by far left me with the strongest impression. I can't say enough about Wally and his achievements, I can't talk about this one much. I don't want to ruin the fun!
Thirty Hours from alex on Vimeo.
Life on the Fells (2016) Directed by James Stevens 5 min
A film following the life of Adam Briggs, a passionate fell runner with a unique story to tell. Driven by the events of the past and the constant pull of the mountains, Adam seeks to make the most of the gift he has been given. His life on the fells will take you on a journey through the elements. One which will broaden the mind, strengthen the body, and empower the spirit. Semi-Finalist for Best Cinematography and Best Amateur Short
I felt so little when watching this film. As if I was a weakling that has never lived through anything hard. Adam Briggs is completing inspiring. If you are dealing with anything at all, watch this and it'll bring life back into you! I have been slowly recovering from a severally sprained ankle. I was very depressed for several weeks, this man clearly is way stronger than me.
Life on the Fells from JEGS Media on Vimeo.
FIFTY -- The Movie (2016) Directed by John-Jo Ritson 52 min
FIFTY – The Movie follows Mal Law’s bold attempt to run 50 mountain marathons over 50 peaks in just 50 days, all around New Zealand, in order to raise an enormous amount of money for the Mental Health Foundation. The film is every bit as unique and ambitious as the adventure it traces. It’s about so much more than just stunning mountain scenery and awesome trail running. It’s also about the ‘power of purpose’ and what is possible when thousands of people get together behind one man to help achieve something truly and utterly remarkable. Semi-Finalist for Best Cinematography, Best Use of Humor and Best Feature
Mal Law, the Lion-Hearted man who conquered 50 mountain peaks in just 50 days. He persevered though his own mountains and completed this amazing journey. Mal came to the film festival and had a short Q&A. It was amazing to have him here in Seattle. Saturday morning there was a group run at Discovery Park in Seattle and he joined in on the run as well! It was incredible to run with someone like him.
FIFTY - The Movie from Fifty on Vimeo.
Orcas Island 100 (2016) Directed by Project Talaria 25 min
The latest work from the up and coming filmmakers, Project Talaria, featuring the first annual Orcas Island 100 miler. The race is directed by Rainshadow Running who are known for their fun, challenging and scenic "destination style" races. Any race in the cold and wet Pacific Northwest in the dark days of mid February is bound to be a challenge but a 100 mile race in the mountains of the San Juan Islands is an extra special challenge. Semi-Finalist for Best Cinematography and Best Use of Humor and Best Short
This film has my attention for a very different reason from the others above. This one I want to run! This race I have been eyeing for a little while. Please watch and let me know your thoughts. It was created by Project Talaria, my favorite film team so far.
Orcas Island 100 - Trailer from Project Talaria on Vimeo.
Mystery Drop Bag Challenge (2016) Directed by Mountain Outpost 15 min
What happens to all those abandoned drop bags after a trail race? Jamil and Schuyler find out! Semi-Finalist for Best Short and Best Use of Humor
I had actually seen this film before the festival and had shared it with many of my friends. It is hilarious! Way too funny for words.
Fat Dog 120 (2016) Directed by Project Talaria 29 min
One of the toughest ultramarathons in North America is British Columbia's Fat Dog 120 miler in Manning Provincial Park. Semi-Finalist for Best Short
As I have previously mentioned, Project Talaria is my favorite production company for trail films, this one got under my skin the first time I watched it before the festival. I had watched it probably three times beforehand! I was so excited to see it on the film list. I love this film, not only that, I hope to run this race some day because of it!
The location of the race is as close to a dream location as one could ask for. It is located in the Canadian Cascade Mountains.
Wonderland: Gary Robbins' FKT Run Around Mt Rainier (2015) Directed by The Ginger Runner 36 min
On July 1st, 2015, Gary Robbins - a seasoned and winning ultrarunner - started at Longmire, in the shadow of Mount Rainier, and attempted to set the fastest known supported time around the Wonderland Trail. Kyle Skaggs' record of 20 hours 53 minutes was always considered unbeatable. 93 miles, over 24,000ft of elevation gain, and record breaking heat. This day had it all. Could Gary step up to the challenge? Semi-Finalist for Best Feature, Best Cinematography, and Best Use of Humor
I am not a fast runner by any means, but wow, this film makes me wish I was! This is the incredible story of Gary Robbins running the Wonderland trail. Here I have been thinking it be really neat to do this trail over a weeks time! Psh!!! Watch and see how long it takes Gary to run his 93 mile run.
Oh yeah, and he's a ginger :D
Ski Hardrock 100 (2016) Directed by Schlarb-Wolf Productions 20 minPrior to tying for the win with Kilian Jornet this summer at The Hardrock 100 this winter Jason Schlarb skied the entire race course! On this "never been done before" feat Jason was joined by fellow elite ultrarunner and Ski Mountaineer Paul Hamilton, the 2013 US Ski Mo Champ Scott Simmons and Noah Howell of PowderWhore fame did the filming. Saying it wasn't easy would be an understatement.
This film isn't a trail running film, however, it is still worth mentioning it and it definitely belonged in this festival line up. This race is something I have pondered putting on my ultra bucket list but after seeing this... even though this is a completely different scenario, I am not so sure! It is insane what these men do. So crazy your jaw is dropped open for most of the film. A MUST WATCH!
I am already looking forward to next year! I am constantly watching trail films on my phone and computer but they are meant to be seen on the big screen. There is nothing like actually seeing mountains as mountains instead of little specs on the monitor screen. These films are made for the big screen and should be seen on the big screen.
Thank you so much James Varner and Rainshadow Running for hosting this festival. It was one of the most inspirational events I have ever attended. I can't wait to work with you all again in the future, nor can I wait to run some of your races! I have several on my list! Basically all... you have such good venues, how can I resist!?
Keep on Running!