Given the shorter days, longer nights, and inclement weather often associated with winter, it’s understandable that many runners may not be as inspired as they normally are to head out and get in the miles.
If you’re struggling to find inspiration to run when it’s dark and stormy, taking in an inspiring flick may be just what the doctor ordered.
Whatever it is you find daunting, chances are someone else has endured and overcome something more challenging. It’s also likely that it’s been captured on film in some way, shape, or form.
So, without any further ado, here are a few excellent ‘movies that move’.
While there is a documentary about Haile Gebrselassie called Endurance (which admittedly and embarrassingly, I haven’t seen), The Endurance is a decidedly different film that has nothing to do with running, but in some ways everything to do with running.
The Endurance is about Sir Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated expedition across the Antarctic continent from 1914-1916. To put things in perspective, the idea of crossing the Antarctic continent during this time was as daunting and challenging as going to the moon was in the 1960’s. In short, no one had ever crossed the Antarctic continent and death was considered a near certainty.
The film includes some staggering current day footage of Antarctica that is inspiring and terrifying. Simply put, this is a place that manages to be one of the most beautiful and simultaneously hostile places on the planet. Combined with this footage is archival footage taken on the actual expedition itself. You see firsthand just how harsh the conditions were and what Shackleton and his men endured.
What Shackleton and his crew ‘endure’ is simply unfathomable. Without giving too much away, there’s simply no way you can’t be inspired after sitting through a viewing of this film.
The Endurance while not directly about running underscores the idea that consistency, commitment, and the ability to persevere despite adverse circumstances are the keys to moving forward. Sound familiar?
More information about The Endurance can be found at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0264578/
The Long Green Line
How can you not love a film that features a coach who fires off inspiring quips such as ‘However fast you are running, RUN FASTER!’
Coach Joe Newton is the kind of coach other coaches (present company included) aspire to be. While he has exhaustive knowledge of the sport of running, he also has an infectious passion that never fails to inspire his young pupils. He is the perfect storm.
Coach Newton has passed along running knowledge and life lessons to THOUSANDS of impressionable young men for 50+ years. His cross-country program at York High School is a staggering assemblage of nearly 100 runners who actively recruit for the cross-country team at Newton’s behest every season.
To give you some sense of Newton’s power and influence, more kids try out for cross-country than football at York High School. If you’ve ever wondered what an elite level high school cross country program looks like, The Long Green Line gives you a pretty good idea of what it looks like.
The Long Green Line is a film that will resonate for anyone who runs. But, the film will particularly resonate for anyone who aspires to be a coach, who currently coaches, or anyone who’s been touched by a coach. So, it’s a film that will resonate for just about anyone.
The Long Green Line can currently be viewed on Hulu for FREE- http://www.hulu.com/watch/125305/the-long-green-line
For more details about the film, go to- http://www.longgreenlinemovie.com/
Touching the Void
Once again, this film is not necessarily about running per se, but there are many elements of this film that will resonate for runners.
Touching the Void is based on a book of the same title about Joe Simpson and Simon Yates’ disastrous and nearly fatal attempt to climb the 20,813 foot Siula Grande in the Peruvian Andes in 1985.
After successfully ascending the previously unclimbed West Face of the Siula Grande, Simpson suffers a broken leg during the descent. Yates and Simpson decide to lower Simpson via ropes in the middle of a nasty storm.
Yates can’t see where he’s lowering Simpson and the former eventually drops him off a cliff. Suspended in mid-air by the rope, Yates has no idea what the condition of his friend is. After waiting an hour, Yates cuts the rope to save his life assuming Simpson is dead.
The movie while not exclusively a documentary is filmed in cinema verite style lending an air of realism to the film that makes you feel like you’re right there with Joe and Simon in the midst of a perilous climb that nearly claimed both of their lives.
Interspersed with the powerful recreated footage of the climb are poignant interviews with Joe, Simon, and several other key individuals involved with the doomed Siula Grande ascent.
One of the most powerful lessons I have learned as a runner is to cling to hope even when I’m deep in the valley of fatigue and despair. There is no film I’ve seen that more vividly underscores this message or better conveys the power of the human spirit more than Touching The Void.
Touching the Void can be viewed via instant streaming on Netflix.
Additional information about the film can be found at: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0379557/
Unbreakable: The Western States 100
Rounding things out is Unbreakable: The Western States 100. I was extraordinarily fortunate to be in a position to host the world premiere of this stellar documentary to a packed house of over 300 passionate runners and ultra runners.
For the uninitiated, The Western States 100 is effectively the ‘Boston Marathon’ of ultras. Attracting the best ultra runners on the planet regularly, the 2010 edition of the event was particularly special. Four undefeated ultra runners (Hal Koerner, Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka, and Killian Jornet) toed the line. Only one would remain ‘unbroken’ at the end of the day.
Director JB Benna is a hardcore ultra runner himself and this comes through powerfully in every frame of this exceptional documentary. JB vividly captures the energy, passion, and characters that make up the ultra community.
The characters are compelling. The story is riveting. The cinematography is stellar. The editing is nearly seamless. The music is exceptional. Unbreakable: The Western States 100 is the best documentary about running I have ever seen.
If you’re a runner (or ultra runner), there’s no way you’ll walk away unaffected. If you abhor running and can’t even fathom ultra running, I can’t imagine you won’t find yourself having second thoughts.
The film was just released and there are screenings taking place all over the country. You can also pre-order DVD’s. FYI, if you place your DVD order before 12/16, you can get yours before Christmas.
All the details are at http://www.ws100film.com/index.html