“In the High Country” Film Review

In the High Country premiered on July 19 in Colorado. Just before 7:00 pm, the athletic crowd funneled into the dimly lit performance space and took their seats in front of a large screen.

The lights dimmed a bit more to signal the audience to lower their voices. Buzz Burrell, Ultimate Direction guru and the evening’s ringmaster, gave an introduction to the film and its maker, Joel Wolpert. The crowd was ready to see the 30-minute show. [Enjoy the In The High Country trailer:]

The film opened with a bang. The credits were actually enjoyable to watch. Beautiful scenes of Colorado mountainscapes filled the screen. The music was dramatic and loud, building hype for what was to follow.

The film was broken down into five parts. The first chapter, titled “Roots,” takes place where TK’s passion for running began, in the small, farming town of Niobrara, Nebraska. For several minutes, the camera follows a bronze, shirtless Tony running around Nebraska’s dirt roads while he narrates. Through visuals and narration, the audience gets an idea of where and how his love for the outdoors started. He narrates that, “Home is what defines us.” With that, the scenery changes to the mountains of Colorado. The camera follows Tony traversing the First Flatiron, then slowly zooms in close to his face as he scrambles up the rock. Squinting, he looks for his next move. The camera pans out and reveals a vast landscape before it transitions to the next chapter.

“The Search,” the second chapter of the movie, is all about Longs Peak. In this short chapter, the audience sees even more images of Tony running around the mountains. The obvious intent here to show the crowd how he is searching and cultivating a new home for himself in the wild Rockies.

The title of part three, “Vulnerability,” has the audience on the edge of their seat. Perhaps this is the part where things get dangerous. The camera follows Tony as he heads up Longs again, but this time he takes Alexander’s Chimney (which has technical sections rated 5.5 in the summertime) to the summit. Joel, with camera in tow, heads up first. Tony arrives at the crux and, searching for holds, he is visibly sketched out by the moves needed to continue on. Eventually he lands the move and proclaims that he, “hasn’t been that scared in a while, or ever maybe.”

Chapter four, “The Practice,” is intended to give a behind-the-scenes look into Tony’s life. The hardships of making the mountains your home. Black toenails. Scars! Going to physical therapy! Exercise-induced heartburn. Most ultrarunners can relate, but to those who haven’t seen these practices before were most certainly mortified.

The final chapter, “Chasing Muses,” follows Krupicka around on the First Flatiron and Longs Peak again. The music and black-and-white tones set a dramatic aura for the chapter. And, while the audience watches Tony bounce around on mountains, the narration continues to expand on the idea of “home is what defines us” by stating that when you begin to know the land and its moods, you eventually become part of the landscape. The line between self and place becomes “seamless” and the mountains become your home. With this line about coming full circle, the movie fades to credits.

L to r: Metzler, TK, Burrell, Wolpert, Chase, Lewis

From l-to-r: Metzler, Krupicka, Burrell, Wolpert, Chase, Lewis

The movie over, Buzz, microphone in hand, got the Q&A session underway. Buzz introduced the editor of Competitor Magazine, Brian Metzler; Tina Lewis, Leadville Trail 100 winner; and Adam Chase, Salomon athlete. They each were given a chance to talk about how much they enjoyed the film. It was clear that the audience was appreciative of their views, but everyone wanted to hear from the star. When it was time for tony to talk about the film and himself, the audience was ready to hear it. Specifically, they wanted to hear about the danger of the mountains and how fast it takes to go up the First Flatiron or Longs. Buzz spurred on this talk by asking about Krupicka’s times on the Kiener’s and the Cables Routes on Longs. Tony was more than happy to oblige to these requests. Eventually, the crowd ran out of questions and the night drew to an end.

Leaving their seats behind, the audience quickly scurried out to the lobby in hopes of talking with the stars. Maybe even getting a signed shoe or poster.

Overall, the movie was great. The music, filming, and narration were spot on. This film could easily find its way into something like the Banff Mountain Film Festival. The chapters were well thought out and it is clear that the audience is supposed to see and feel the evolution of Krupicka’s running that happens between the rolling fields of Nebraska and the high peaks of Colorado. The film’s producer and one-man film crew, Joel, does an excellent job with this. The fact that he was able to keep up with Krupicka while filming has him nearly stealing the show.

From this movie and others, it is obvious that there is a clear shift happening in trail running. The lines between trail running, mountaineering, and climbing are becoming blurred. Brian Metzler, Competitor Magazine Editor, stated that Tony is the “epitome of the change in trail running.” Whether or not that’s true, it is clear that Krupicka’s mountain pursuits are popular. He is probably the visual that people get when they think of hardcore ultrarunners. He embodies the ultrarunning look and the nomadic lifestyle nine-to-fivers yearn for. Rugged, unshaven, shirtless. Living the grunge life out of the back of a truck. Black toenails, yeah he’s got ’em. So whether he is catching a cold on a volcanic island, running up mountains shirtless in the snow, or scrambling up the First Flatiron, people love what he embodies: freedom and a seamless continuity with nature.

Resources

Call for Comments (from Reese and Meghan)

  • For those of you who’ve seen In The High Country, what did you think? What aspects of the film did you like the most? In what areas would you have like to have seen the film expanded?
  • If you’ve not seen the film, what are you looking forward to about this film? The mountainscapes? Tony’s thoughts on landscape and movement? Infusing some inspiration into your own running? Seeing the product of Joel running like he%l to keep up with Krupicka at high altitude?

In the High Country film poster
[Editor’s Note (7/22/13): This article has been edited to more focus more closely on the substance of In The High Country.]

There are 150 comments

  1. Rider

    Reese,

    Thanks for the write-up! Looking forward to seeing this film. Any details on when this may find release in the Bay Area?

    1. Digga

      Good question. I'll let the guy from sports basement in the presidio know that he's gotta show this….. They usually come through with stuff like this….

  2. Meghan Hicks

    We've got no additional information on future screenings or a download/purchase option just yet, beyond what's listed on Joel's website.

    His website currently reads,

    "West Coast Tour.

    In the High Country will tour the Mountain West of the US for the month of August 2013.

    Screenings will be announced as the details are confirmed. Locations include:

    Salt Lake City, UT

    Bend, OR

    Portland, OR

    Missoula, MT

    Boise, ID

    East Coast Tour.

    The film will screen along the East Coast of the US in late fall.

    As above, we will keep you updated as screenings are added.

    As of now, there are plans for screenings in these areas:

    Buckhannon, WV

    Shepherdstown, WV

    Pittsburgh, PA

    Lancaster, PA

    Philadelphia, PA

    New York City, NY

    Boston, MA

    World Tour.

    In the High Country has been invited to screen at film festivals across the world.

    Confirmed screenings:

    2013 360 Stopni Film Fest – Poland

    2014 Trails in Motion Film Fest – South Africa

    From the UK to South America, South Africa to Scandinavia, more shows are coming.

    Stay tuned for details."

    As soon as we know more, we'll update the resources section of this post, though! Check back.

    1. André Lambert

      Kilian really nailed it having his first film readily available for digital purchase. 99% of the people who want to see it won't be able to. I find it disappointing.

      André

      1. Meghan Hicks

        André,

        No mention has yet been made by producer/filmmaker Joel Wolpert about digital download/purchase. I don't think this necessarily means it won't happen, just that it isn't happening yet. "In the High Country" was literally filmed, edited, and produced by one guy, and Seb Montaz had the support of Kilian's whole Summits of My Life team in the production of "A Fine Line." I recommend you not be disappointed yet, as I think "In the High Country" is just plain going to have a slower distribution process due to the tiny entity that created it.

      2. Scott

        At the screening this evening (Saturday), Joel said he plans to release a digital download sometime soon. No date was mentioned, but maybe late summer or early fall? He also said DVDs would be available in late fall.

        Sounds as if he and Ultimate Direction have been flooded with screening inquiries from around the US and abroad, and he's scrambling to keep up with it all.

    2. Kendra

      I'm so excited that this film is coming to Boise! I don't want to miss where and when it will be shown.

      Beneath the Mountain West tour, the website shows plans for an East Coast tour. Those of you in Pittsburg, Lancaster, Philadelphia, Boston, New York, and WV appear to be in luck.

      1. Meghan Hicks

        Kendra,

        Good eye! I didn't notice the scroll down to other screening locations on Joel's website. I've edited the text of the article as well as my comment above to reflect this. Thanks!

    3. Charlie

      Looking forward to seeing this come to Boise. With regard to the review, the tongue-n-cheek/ not so veiled sarcasm/passive aggression didn't make for a very good read….can't wait to see it for myself so I can wash the bad taste out of my mouth

  3. Sarah

    Haha, a very tongue in cheek review. I like it! It would be fun to watch Indulgence and In the High Country back to back to see the real genesis of Anton as a runner.

  4. David

    Saw the film last night also and overall thought it was entertaining and very well done. The music and landscape images captured by Joel were fantastic. Rather than a straight running documentary, this is more an impressionistic, artsy mountain film where TK is co-star with the Rocky Mountains. Never seeing a running flick done this way, I thought it was pretty cool.

  5. Jon Allen

    Two locations in WV and two in PA, but nothing further south, like in the trail running town of Asheville, NC? Kinda bummed we won't get the chance to see the Tony Krupicka (drink now) movie.

  6. Anonymous

    "Catching a cold on a volcanic island. " and mentioning Nolan 14 finishers are by far the best lines ever written on irf.

  7. Dave

    I would Argue that people are attracted to watching stuff like this – because he makes us wonder : How could I not work , run around in the mountains all day, and still pay my rent?

  8. John

    "it is obvious that there is a clear shift happening in trail running"

    Oh yes, the celebritization of trail and ultra running… oh, wait.. the blurring of lines between running and mountaineering and climbing. Ok sure, that too.

  9. WC

    No offence but they are completely dropping the ball already on this little film. Every article I have read about it for past months has been followed with a comments section filled with people asking about downloads, when, how can I see it, etc. It is fine for "the tiny entity that produced it" to plan this and that for later, but fact remains no information has been posted about release beyond a short list of usa towns. This isn't film, this isn't Wolpert running a print on celluloid for every person who buys a copy. This is digital download distribution, press of a button. How many people would pay ten dollars to download this right now? If there were any forethought toward setting up the architecture beforehand, probably a lot. I agree with the comment about the Kilian film. A 30 minute bio film about a runner doesn't gain anything by scarcity or being hard to access or find / see. Neither am I simply impatient. So far the only mention I've yet read anywhere of it being released for download is in a comment above this. Why no simple note on the official website? "Available for download soon." But instead it is only a list of cities, as though this were 1955 and a physical reel of the film print had to travel across country in a truck. My opinion is they are dropping the ball on this pretty hard. Wolpert could stand up and be the USA answer to Seb Montaz, but not if he can't get his distribution ducks in a row.

    1. Anonymous

      Correct. Digital distribution is almost trivially easy, yet somehow with both this film and others (from other studios or production firms) seem unable to pull this off. Or unwilling.

      I don't get it.

      1. Charlie

        Great- Irunfar has now officially sunk to unprecedented depths when online wannabees are critiquing actual real ultrarunners…..how many Leadville 100s/Western States have you run Bob?? Let us know when you're ready to attempt Nolans please!

    2. Ric Moxley

      to give the benefit of doubt, re: "This is digital download distribution, press of a button" — while that may be mechanically true, there may be legal button blocking in play. If the film is being distrib'd by a film distribution company, there may be contractual obligations that prevent the film maker from pushing that digi-download button.

  10. Allisa L

    Saw the movie last night and it was fantastic. Everyone reading this who is angsty about this review's splendid sarcasm or the prospect of having to wait for a digital download should probably calm down and go listen to Mason Jenning's "Ulysses," a song featured in the movie. The music definitely made the film for me.

    Joel definitely said he's going to come out with a digital download soon and Buzz mentioned that the overseas requests have been plentiful.

  11. Charlie M.

    This really stinks…I thought "In the High Country" was the sequel to "Reefer Madness". Now I see it's a running film. Bummer, huge bummer. :)

  12. Buzz

    The Comments above criticizing the slow distribution of the film are fascinating. Because in a way they are correct. But would you have it any other way?

    Joel is an artist. He had a vision, he worked really, really hard to manifest it, he worked alone and with very little support or money, and unlike me and most of us, he pulled it off. He expressed his vision.

    In a day when people are wary of fame and fortune coming to ultrarunning, I'd like to point out that Joel is old-school hard-core: he committed to his goal, he achieved it, and only now is getting around to the whole public/money/etc thing.

    Here's an example of the above, Joel as the perfectionist, one of the many backstory's on this film: the Fri and Saturday screenings were slightly different, because he had made minor edits in between – it was shown not from a DVD or Quicktime, but straight out of the editing software on his laptop.

    1. Scott

      So he can't finish and is test viewing it before releasing a finished product. Many artists have a problem finishing. Especially a perfectionist.

    2. Swimmons

      Have to second Buzz here. We're fortunate to have access to Joel's work here in WV where he routinely shows up to give us very artistic and unusual shots of our runs ( i remember looking up and being startled by someone shooting me from of all places high atop a bridge truss.) He gives us here something we don't often see. The film is no doubt the same and that requires something of an exhibit opening in my mind. Its also a great way to have a community event for trail running folk rather than staying alone as we tend to be and watching by ourselves via the digital download. A trip down to the market so to speak. I for one look forward to a trip to Buckhannon, a nice town by the way, and enjoying it with some friends. For you eastlanders its within a days drive of you. Hope to see you there! P.s. exhibits are where you can talk with the creator about the work as well. Joel appeared at an aid station and i asked for the story on the sketchy longs peak story and he was happy to discuss before disappearing back in the brush.

  13. BeatCity

    What's the point of Anton now a days? He's not winning races, he's not completing the challenges he sets for himself (Nolans), he's not setting FKTs (R2R2R). He's not the fastest guy at 50k-50miler (Sage and Max King would hand it to him), he's not the fastest guy at 100m (Tim Olson would hand it to him), he's not the fastest guy at straight up mountain running (the Europeans would hand it to him), he's not the best guy at the blurred line between running and climbing (Kilian is head and shoulders above him and would hand it to him). I just don't get him. What is he? Why should I care about him?

    1. Alex

      He seems like a chill guy whose sole occupation is to explore beautiful mountains with his legs. It's something of a fantasy life for many fans of this sport; thus he functions as an avatar of that desire. I also think his (relative) setbacks, of late, help his popularity. People prefer a flawed and challenged hero to a juggernaut. The fact that he speaks so openly about these setbacks (injuries, etc.) makes him easy to empathize with and invest in.

      None of this is to say you should care. But do understand that Anton's "point" still speaks to a lot of people, even if it seems blunted to you.

      1. Andrew

        Maybe i misunderstood the nature of the film but it appears to be more a celebration of a celebrity than achievement.

        that doesn't appeal to me one little bit

  14. Anonymous

    Nah, it's a celebration of a lifestyle, and an exploration of the blurring of the line brown running/climbing, much like killian, sure. besides that, it seems to could give a rat's [email protected]@ about being a celebrity, and that's nice. Ironically those are the kinda of people we often (in a sort of 'catch 22') want to admire…the ones who do it for pure love and mostly not for attention.

  15. Anonymous

    Possible in theory, but very unlikely there's a big studio or other copyright owner or distribution rights owner or anything besides Joel himself owning and calling all the shots here. People just want to be informed, and know what to expect. Or, in an ideal world, just release the thing on the net to begin with. Reasonable to desire and expect in today's world, I'd say.

  16. Courtney

    Let people talk. Anton and Joel are authentic and true artists in their own realms while other people whine and complain about needing to see the film instantly. “Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” ― Andy Warhol

    Love your work, both Anton & Joel. True inspiration and devotion to your ways of life. Others should find their own as well and encourage one another rather than being rude.

  17. JohnDoe

    Relax Charlie. I'm not a wannabee, nor do I have to be to point out what TK pretty much noted in his own attempt report – he started the run with almost no sleep and it caught up to him. He himself called it a failure. I'm a fan of TK – just seems that lately, most of his best outings are on "training" runs…..

  18. Jen

    I just want to commend Joel and his efforts to make high quality content that continues to provide inspiration for this sport, however you want to define it. Having also been involved in ultrarunning films since 2005, I can only say that this is one of the most difficult endeavors to take on. Just the filmmaking alone is something most people can't even comprehend, let alone the distribution model (which by the way, we have been working on since the start of our films) and still can't get all the channels we want or expect. These great films are worth waiting for, however they get shown. We make these films because we love it- there is no real money to be made so its nice when people appreciate the effort and the art. Thanks Joel!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Hey Mark, BeatCity, and others, can you tone down the cynicism a little? Many find inspiration in the way Tony interacts with the mountains on personal, lifestyle, and athletic levels. What's wrong with sharing that? While I live a non-traditional life and have no interest in personally getting involved in bringing climbing into my mountain pursuits, I still find inspiration in Tony's (and Kilian's and Rickey Gates's and others) lifestyles. I, for one, am glad that "In The High Country" was made and very much look forward to seeing it soon. I'm sure many others are as well.

      Now, if I might make a suggestion, go enjoy the trails rather than snarking in the comment section of a website. You'll enjoy it more. I promise. Oh, and smile.

      1. Rod

        On the other hand Brian, these comments are part and parcel of the blending of the pursuits. Climbing forums are full of this stuff. He is an interesting guy doing interesting things with a commitment that is the essense of the human spirit and that makes it fun to watch. At least he isn't funding his life making herbicides or useless electronic stuff. He is selling dreams and shoes and we all need those.

      2. Mark

        Hi Bryon,

        Not cynicism, but sadness in my comment. Besides, I thought you can have your opinion on this forum as long as you stay away from bad language.

        What about those do don't find this super inspirational? Can they talk here and speak their reasons?

        Is it possible to spare me and those who happened to differ from the IRF mainstream somewhat patronizing tone and advice like: go enjoy the trail, and smile, cause it’s good for you…?

        No bad blood, just trying to clarify. Cheers!

        1. BeatCity

          Holy cow, couldn't agree more with Mark. Where in my original comment did I put Anton down other than pointing out what's currently going on with him? It was a genuine question and you know what, I appreciated the answers that were given politely. That's what I was asking, why should I care about him? Well, people care about him for his love of the mountains. That's great. Bryon, You mention Kilian and Rickey Gates. Those are my favorite runners, and they're very non-traditional. I find appeal in both of them but I don't in Anton. But man, relax with asking us to tone down our cynicism. I'm not cynical of Anton, I simply don't understand what he's doing with himself now, is he a racer, or is he going after FKTs, is he just training, or is he just enjoying his time in the mountains… that's the question I'm asking.

          And thanks Mark for replying to Bryon's comment better than I could.

          1. JohnDoe

            Agree! We are fans of this site, but if people can't voice non-mainstream opinions than whats the point of the forum? Are we all supposed to be giddy about all runners and everything they are doing? They are after all, the ones who chronicle their running lives for the whole world to see…..and as TK himself put it, open themselves up for peoples opinions Again, I'm a fan of TK, but not sure why exactly…

          2. Bryon Powell

            Mark and BeatCity, I sincerely apologize for being too quick to reign in the conversation. I DO welcome all respectful viewpoints here. After a weekend away, I'll admit I was disappointed to return to lines such as "What’s the point of Anton now a days?" and "The point is to sell a myth in the New Balance/UDirection fancy package." Whether or not they are meant to be, they felt quite disrespectful of Anton the person, the fellow trail runner. I hope you can accept my apology.

            I hope you can also understand my desire to keep the discussion on iRunFar positive. Some of the most positive conversations on iRunFar… have been ones full of disagreement and civil discourse. It's my sincere hope that all comments made on iRunFar are the sort that one could say to the focus/subject of the comment while out on a trail run together. We're a small community and one that's known for its friendly and welcoming nature.

            Cheers,

            Bryon

        2. Jimmy

          I would have to agree here with Mark and Beatcity. If you don't live in the Colorado area, you may not know that there are tons of "Tonys" out there doing these "mountain" runs. People have been doing them for a long time now, and unless you are going for a FKT, what is the point other then for your own personal ambitions. But for UD/New Balance and others to prop it up as something amazing, that confuses me simply because it is fairly prosaic at this point. I mean, the first line or so of the Nolans videos totally blows it out of proportion (90,000' of gain, 100 miles – try more like 65 miles and 44,000' of gain). If others had the large PR system behind them then you would hear about 100 Tonys from Colorado. I don't find a ton of inspiration in this because for me it is nothing new. In fact, I get discouraged because I've done a lot of this and know others who have as well, yet they did not get any notice/recognition. It was just part of their daily life.

          And yes, those of us coming from a climbing background are used to this. Climbing forums are harsh, but that is what happens online I guess.

          1. Charlie M.

            But why not simply remain silent and without "notice/recognition". Obviously it bothers all of you that Tony is getting what you desire, otherwise you wouldn't criticize him. Psychology 101 baby…

          2. Mark

            Beside its commercial side, I simply find TK enterprises blown out of proportion. Mentioning Kilian, Ueli Steck and Alex Honnold in this context is confusing and, to be honest, not quite fair. All respect to Tony, but c'mon, let's be real.

            What I appreciate the most in this discussion is that we got to the point where we share and exchange different viewpoints without subscribing to any personal fanclub.

            BeatCity and Jimmy, thanks for your comments!

            Charlie M.: Do you really think some people should remain silent because they differ from the majority? I was born in the communist country in Europe and have my answer to this question. And thanks for this psychological diagnosis of some of us, cheers!

      3. Anonymous

        Byron, I wasn't having a go at tony. In reality I am probably jealous of the guy, his lifestyle good looks and running ability.

        However I have no interest in seeing film about him solely but would happily watch him achieving something. Hope this makes sense

        Bit like I am happy watch Chris froome in the tdf but wouldn't want to watch his life story and cycling around monaco while training

    2. Adam

      Mark, I think you hit the nail on the head, sadly. Well it might be a bit mean, as BeatCity seems to be doing, to begrudge Krupicka his no doubt modest income from NB and UD sponsorships, and I for one see nothing inherently evil in wanting (some very circumscribed) fame and attention, you both make some clear and realistic points. IRunFar/UD/NB and other components of the material and informational support infrastructure that has developed around ultrarunning clearly stand to benefit from selling a dream, the dream of wild, jobless running wood nymphs motivated solely by love without any real material interests. NB and UD sell gear, IRunFar's contributors receive the more modest reward of networking opportunities with elites, free shoes, race entries, and the opportunity to influence the sport by playing a crucial role in how athletes and races are promoted. There's nothing horribly wrong with this, and it's small change when compared with the suffering inflicted upon the world by other capitalist endeavors (although I would note, as an aside, that the people who manufacture the shoes we so proudly accumulate and destroy probably don't spend a lot of time running trails with a smile on their face under a clear blue sky). And I love running and racing trails, and hope to keep doing it until the day I die. But the more rational among us should not pretend that ultrarunning occupies some hallowed place where the only currencies are "joy" and one's "experiences," a place free from the exigencies of economics and self-interest. Canaday aggressively pushes Scott Shoes. Olson left PI (who's gear he clearly prefers) for what was certainly a more lucrative deal with the far larger and richer TNF. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, everyone needs to make a living, they aren't hurting anybody, and the profits that accrue to even the most elite ultrarunners are a mere pittance when compared with the compensation due to even second and third-string pros in other sports. But that does not mean that running trails is not, like every other human activity, a part of the real world of money, power, and influence.

      1. Adam

        It's also worth noting that investing a huge amount of one's time in running through the mountains for little financial reward is a marker of middle-class privilege. I count myself among the privileged, and am no more innocent of this than any elite (just a whole lot slower).

        1. Mark

          Great write-up Adam! I believe that de-mythologizing our narratives makes our experience more genuine and closer to our true selves.

          Let's enjoy the mountains in the way they deserve in silence and awe. Save the money talk for the valleys.

          1. Adam

            Thanks Mark. I think "de-mythologizing" is a great way to think of a very difficult, but ultimately rewarding process.

  19. Dave T.

    I'm very much inspired by Anton's efforts. I realize others engage in similar activities (I would guess there are VERY few who put in the weekly vert and hours he puts in though) but if I'm not aware of them how can they inspire me? Therefore, I appreciate that Anton blogs and I'm glad this movie was made. In regard to Anton's racing, I really don't care how much he races, it's his day-to-day outings that inspire me. I also love his writing and photography. Keep it up Anton!

    In regard to this review, I found it a bit snarky and condescending.

        1. Scott

          When you are contributing to a site that was created to gain friends with elites – making fun of said friends isn't going to be received by said creator.

          1. Meghan Hicks

            Scott,

            With all due respect, iRunFar was not created to *gain* friends with anyone, elite or not. iRunFar was created first as Bryon Powell's personal blog and second as a place for the trail and ultra community to get and share information online. iRunFar tries to mirror the offline ultra community, an incredibly supportive, intelligent, and able group of humans, as close as possible. This is why we encourage folks to interact with each other here as we all do in the real world. If anything, our current purpose is to *support* trail and ultrarunners of all kinds. Thanks for reading.

            1. Adam

              That comment may have been unnecessarily mean. But the fact is, as much as I love the good work you guys do in bringing ultrarunning news to us, there are several things that are conspicuous in their absence from IRF. A cynical, critical attitude towards elite runners and famous races and the myths that develop around them, as Scott notes, is one such lacunae. aAnother would be any negative shoe or gear reviews whatsoever. They just aren't there, and their non-existance is indicative of the mutually beneficial symbiotic relationship many running websites enjoy with the footwear and gear industries. Finally, there is no reflection on the larger political economic context in which running takes place. Even fairly obvious conservation issues, such as the possibly deleterious impact running 300 people through the wilderness might have on the flora and fauna, are ignored. Coming back down the trail at Lake Sonoma this year, I was not overjoyed to see the path strewn with gel packets, as if this were the LA marathon. If trail runners cannot see past their own subjective "experience" of "overcoming challenges" to consider objective environmental issues, than what hope is there in interesting people who rarely venture outdoors in such problems? These are just a few of the concerns that would make IRF an even richer source of information about the world of outdoor athletics.

        2. Tom R

          I find the editing of the original review to be ridiculous. Is anyone involved in this really that fragile? Is this community really that soft?

  20. JohnDoe

    Charlie M. – you have your 101 wrong. Aside from his running talent, there is nothing of his lifestyle I wish I had… Great for him, I'll continue to read his blog, but not for me!

    1. Charlie M.

      Then just remain silent. If you are truly not jealous, then why take the time to criticize? Seriously, think about it…

      1. Alex

        Because intelligent discourse and disagreement is possible? Jealousy is hardly the only reason to have an opinion, and to pretend otherwise is willfully ignorant and patronising.

  21. Ric Moxley

    ok, ok, just gotta say this. Sure, I'm grateful for the existence of the movie, and the person featured, and look forward to seeing/buying it. But i think that all of you who run 100 mile+ races have totally lost perspective; you EACH deserve a movie, and I'd watch it gladly! Do you not realize how few people in this world would even try a marathon (i recall the number being well under a half percent) much less an ultra of any length, much less a 100-miler. Be proud, and know you're respected by those of us who have yet to try such awesome foolishness. So, rather than question who should be the *ideal* choice for a movie about ultra running/mountain running, i want to celebrate in the inspiration i receive from any well-done movie on any one of ya's. No, seriously. You inspire me. I started reading IRF when i was only doing 12 miles or so per week. mostly due to the stories and info and response on IRF, I've been compelled to increase my running. I've now done a few mary's and hope to run my first ultra this year, and continue to be inspired by your input, whether in IRF articles, IRF comments, or in a full fledged movie. Just wanted you to know that you are inspirational heroes to me, and many others I suspect, whether or not you have a movie to prove it.

  22. Scott

    Thank for revising the review. Reese might've had unmalicious intentions that people close to her and Tony would recognize and enjoy, but the sarcasm left me thinking about the seemingly fractious relationship between Reese and Tony, rather than about the contents and quality of the film.

  23. Buzz

    I support Bryon's desire for iRunFar to be a place of civil discourse, learning, and sharing about the sport of ultrarunning. There certainly is no "mainstream" view but there is a difference between gossip and content.

    There are a few irony's in this discussion, that I find quite fascinating:

    1. A few Comments have left the topic of the Film Review and degenerated into what Anton's allure is or isn't – like a "Dancing With the Stars" message board – the irony is the athlete in question is simply doing what he loves while a few spectators are the ones caught up in the star power thing.

    2. This Comment made me gasp: "What’s the point of Anton now a days?" I can answer that right off: he is a human being. Same as you and me. Whatever hero-worship expectation he is not fulfilling is not his problem.

    3. When Tony had a bad day and failed on Nolan's, I asked how New Balance felt about that – they had hired a large professional film crew and invested a lot of money. They were fine with it – they are sponsoring a person, not an achievement. Another irony: the huge corporation has more heart and understanding than some individuals.

    4. Representing Ultimate Direction, I helped sponsor Joel's film. So the story goes, UD is only in it for the money, which would mean we push everyone to see it. But curiously, I'm the one defending the lack of distribution, saying it's Joel's film, and that his artistic expression is what is most important.

    5. Many people who have never tried ultrarunning have opinions about it, but I think actually doing it provides a more informed perspective, plus is much more rewarding. Same with this film or anything else – probably best to try it first.

    In Summary:

    Tony doesn't owe anything to anyone – he only owes it to himself to live his life with honesty, commitment, and passion. Same for Joel – he's an artist and he expressed his vision.

    It matters not what we do or how fast we do it, and certainly not our popularity rating, but our commitment and integrity do matter, and I only hope I can do as well as these two have.

  24. Tom

    It is too bad we do not have the movie of the mountain pursuits of Buzz. Through his UD position he is able to support Joel's desire to film the mountains and a man. Thanks.

    Tony acknowledges many have travelled the mountains before him. I say everyone get your self up at dawn and head up the nearest hill or 14er on your next day off.

  25. Lynn

    Tony, and others, do it solely for the love, but he's now the star of a movie and lifestyle and with that will come even more expectations from his fan base. He may not owe them anything, but he should get ready to hear from them, good or bad. It's what comes with being an ultra-celebrity

  26. Lynn

    This should also be a word of caution to other similar lifestyled runners out there who don't want to be critiqued-keep your celebrity in check. Love&peace

  27. Steve

    I follow Anton's blogs and have seen his movies Indulgence and Unbreakable. I recollect that he bashed Dean Karnazes pretty bad in Indulgence and a couple interviews for using his running and self created marketing events to make money and promote himself. I think it is awesome that the guys are able to make a living doing what we would love to get paid to do, but it is slightly hypocritical on Anton's part. Maybe he realized that Dean was onto something.

  28. Tony

    Some interesting discussion here, and it's good to see it all being kept civil. Some of the comments above would seem to indicate some misunderstanding of sponsorship though… If you were a big company looking for someone to sponsor, the most effective recipient of your money/support would probably be the person who can get your brand the most exposure… That could be the best/strongest/fastest/record-holding practitioner, but it could equally be a more average individual who happens to be good at conveying his/her experiences in an accessible way that resonates with a large number of people within the target market (e.g. a blog with a huge following by a person whose image/lifestyle/beliefs/exploits/write-ups/photos mean something to others). Clearly TK is closer to the former, but he also ticks all the boxes for the latter, so there's no question at all in my mind about why New Balance and others might be happy to sponsor Tony with camera crews etc… for his exploits. The guy doesn't have to be the best, although he very well may be at certain aspects of his sport… but he clearly means a lot to a lot of people, myself included… That's why it makes all the sense in the world for companies like NB to associate themselves with him, even if he's not as fast at 100km as Sage or free-soloing alpine north faces as quickly as Ueli or the northwest face of Half Dome as quickly as Alex Honnold.

    Looking forwards to downloading this movie once all the digital distribution stuff has been sorted out :)

  29. Josh

    I'm more than a little disturbed by the vitriol sprinkled into this board. I fear that this is a harbinger of a negative direction in our sport.

    First, to those who complain about distribution issues – your comments can be translated into one of the core problems with American culture as of late: "Why can't I have it right now?" The concept is so antithetical to ultrarunning as to be absurd. Perhaps we should consider the possibility that instant gratification of the global masses was probably never the goal of the film, and never will be? Yes, I very much would like to see it as well, but why don't we let the artist follow through with his vision? If Wolpert cares about my $10, he'll give me an opportunity to hand it over sooner or later.

    Second, to those complaining that this is all about money and selling goods … it feels as if you're making a point that you want to make, regardless of the available facts. Seriously. A movie that most of us can't actually see or buy. A movie which I cannot find referenced on either the New Balance OR the Ultimate Direction websites (with an admittedly brief search). A movie without a clear distribution date to the masses, providing most of us with … well … no option whatsoever to whip out our credit cards. A movie filmed and created with a crew of exactly one farmer who used the woods and mountains as a set. The very assertion that this film is all about money is completely inconsistent with reality.

    Third, to those wondering why they should pay attention to TK lately … what is it that you're so angry about? If you don't want to follow TK, don't. Follow anyone else, or no one at all. IRF is absolutely packed with articles NOT about TK. Don't buy the movie. Don't read the reviews. Don't read TK's blog. Don't make mean-spirited posts and feign innocence because you haven't utilized foul language. If you're not impressed with TK, don't engage. We're all adults here. We're all aware that there is a possibility to make a point with different tones. We can ponder the continued popularity of TK without making purely inflammatory statements such as, "Why should I care about him?". Nobody has tricked or forced anybody else to do or watch or read anything. Concept … not all of us have to have the same favorite runner. Concept … people don't have to win all the time (or ever) to be interesting/great/inspiring/noteworthy. It is, in fact, totally fine for any of us not to like or follow TK. But it's not necessary to belittle the fact that other people clearly do enjoy following him. It's not necessary to behave as if it were a prerequisite to flame any media attention that a runner you don't like happens to receive.

    When people lament how ultrarunning will shift and become convoluted like other sports and move beyond the "good old days", I worry that this is how it will happen. We will worry about money polluting our sport while we cut each other down. What we all love about ultrarunning is the freedom, the wilderness, the camaraderie, the fact that the vast majority of participants are only competing with themselves and a given trail and with that, the ability of the average individual to accomplish feats that boggle the mind. Historically, ultrarunners have been tribal … together. It was us against the world. Now, we find ourselves becoming tribal apart and antagonistic to one another. The end of the golden age of ultrarunning will be vitriolic fans that feel the need to bring each other down, to bring athletes down, to reduce our sport to the long-distance running equivalents of conflicts we find in the NFL, the NBA, professional baseball and elsewhere. These are the early shock-jocks of ultrarunning.

    1. Alex

      People can be part of the same tribe, very much together, and disagree about minute and nonsensical things. The quibble and they argue precisely because they have shared interests, because they care about the same things. No one fights like family, after all. Let's please not act like this discussion is representative of larger societal ills (ridiculous hyperbole) or the death of the sport. The "good old days" are yet to come, I'm confident.

      1. BeatCity

        100% sure there was no belittling the "fact that other people clearly do enjoy following him" in my post. 100% sure I never mentioned that I do not like him. I do like him. I just don't understand what he's doing with his running right now, and again, why I should care or why I should watch the film. The question wasn't one of criticism, it's a pretty simple question that TK fan boys seem to be overreacting to. Also, for you to think that me asking what TK is doing with his running right now is somehow ruining the golden age of ultrarunning is completely laughable and you sir, need to relax.

        1. pdc

          "What's the point of Anton now a days" was very poorly worded. It sounds like you are questioning his existence. It sounds inflammatory whether you meant it to be so or not. Calling people fan boys doesn't help your case.

        2. art

          BeatCity

          do you have an actual real name ?

          I know Bryon does not require them here, but it would help if I didn't feel like I was talking to someone who was trying to hide himself.

  30. Bonnie

    Jeez for people who participate in a sport that produces endorphins, there’s a lot of negative energy here. I support anyone who can make a living doing what they love. I understand differing opinions about training, gear, whatever, but let’s not spread negative energy about people involved in a sport we all love….or anyone for that matter.

  31. Carlos

    Agree. I'm still wondering why some are so up in arms about questioning what TK is all about these days? The fact is he is a professional athlete,one of the biggest celebrities and talents in the ultra world, has marketing built around him, been in 3 movies so far, chronicles his daily exploits for the world to see, has many product endorsements, but he hasn't won an actual race in a long time. What's wrong with asking "what's up?". All product manufacturer's want to win, whether they say so publicly or not,- are they also told the he doesn't owe them a thing?

  32. Adam

    It was a legitimate question, even if overstated. Krupicka had two races so far this season, and started neither one. He didn't complete Nolan's. He was in the top 5 at a few high profile races last year (Speedgoat, Leadville), but always just outside the podium. It's clear that he's had some physical setbacks, and I think he's interesting expressly for this reason. He's still relatively young, yet the life seems to have taken a toll on him, even if he hasn't been nearly so physiologically unlucky as poor Geoff Roes. His reputation and iconic image are clearly more important to many than his results, and questioning why that is is not necessarily snarky or irrelevant. The fact remains that he can run better than most of us could ever hope to, but when there are others who are better still, it's worth wondering why he has retained his mythical status.

    1. Mic

      Art, you're kind of aggressive and I think you could benefit from spending some time in the mountains. I'm not trying to hide myself anymore than you must be by using your nickname in all lower case letters.

      1. art

        just returned yesterday from a 44 mile one day in the High Sierra climbing 2 passes over 13,000ft so maybe its left over testosterone. yes I'm aggressive in an attempt to counterbalance you.

        art messier

    2. JJ

      Adam: Amusing that you conveniently omit his result at the Cavalls del Vent Skyrace (arguably the deepest field of the three races he ran last year) where he WAS on the podium, running a close 2nd to Kilian and under the previous course record. But, that wouldn't fit your narrative.

      1. Adam

        I didn't know about that result, sorry. I was trying to be fair. I didn't say "he wasn't on the podium in any races last year" because I knew that I hadn't researched everything he's done. The fact remains that he has yet to start a race this season, while there are plenty of other really fast guys and gals out there that don't get nearly as much attention. Pam Smith, a 38 year old who has an actual job and a family went 9th overall at WS and put herself over 40 minutes ahead of the 2nd woman. Rob Krar, Mike Morton, and Troy Howard, all unsponsored athletes, have just had great performances at big races. Krupicka is a great runner, and he seems like a cool guy. But unless someone can explain why his mythical status is entirely justified by his results, it is only sensible to conclude that marketing is a crucial factor in his visibility. Only Jornet is more recognizable. I'm also not sure that we need to keep calling people we don't know by their first names, but that's another issue.

      2. Adam

        I should add that it's quite possible that Krupicka, like Jornet and Jones, is gradually losing interest in formal racing. That is perfectly understandable, and perhaps even commendable. But if that's the case, his free soloing efforts have to be placed in the perspective of climbing history, as Rob does below, a history which many runners (myself included) are entirely unfamiliar with.

  33. Meghan Hicks

    Adam,

    I'd like to address a couple of your statements/inferences.

    1. That an absence of negative gear reviews on iRunFar equates to an improper symbiosis with footwear and gear companies-

    Our product-review "system" is very different from many gear websites. If one of our reviewers can't write a review about a product that has more positive elements than negatives, the reviewer doesn't review it. Instead, the reviewer provides offline feedback to the company, often the actual product's designer/design team. For example, while I do only a small amount of product testing for the website as compared to other reviewers, there are far more products that I have tested and not reviewed than those I have. While we know it's impossible to publish completely objective reviews, there are several other steps we have integrated into iRunFar's operations that get us closer to this.

    I don't think you and I know each other in person but I am strongly anti-consumerist/minimalist in life principle, and I think we've done a good job with creating a system for sharing high-quality information about the "best" running products (read: products that do what they are supposed to better than others) from informed and independent reviewers so that iRunFar readers can make responsible purchases. I am also proud that the designers for many companies welcome/ask for feedback from iRunFar's reviewers.

    2. That iRunFar is lacking in critical commentary-

    Our unofficial, overarching motto is to praise the elements of our culture that we appreciate, and "ignore" the elements of our culture that we think could use improvement. For example, we write positively, vividly, deeply about nature/wild spaces/human relationships with the environment because we believe that this encourages readers to learn about/develop a relationship with their own wild spaces. The environmental movement has proven the efficacy of this tactic, and so we use it as well.

    That said, Bryon has chosen to speak out negatively against several clear issues in the community, such as a race director denying prize money to runners who rightfully earned it, a call for the Western States 100 board to be transparent about its decision-making, and a request that race directors be "greener" by giving out less schwag. And, when one of our contributors (who we and others perceive as a community leader because of their running success/longstanding community participation) chooses to write critically, we welcome it so long as they do so constructively. For example, Geoff Roes recently questioned the ethics of the community's growing interest in FKTs.

    Thanks for reading.

  34. Dom

    Buzz's comments really resonate with me.

    Tony is a human being that lives a lifestyle that a lot of people find inspiring. Personally, my running has been affected in a positive way by reading his blog and following his pursuits. I've trained harder, explored new terrain, and enjoyed running more than I would have if Tony wasn't doing his thing. So, whether or not he found success in the established ways people define success, I can say that I've been positively affected by him and I'm thankful.

  35. Potatojoe

    Yesterday I was riding my Segway up a mountain fire-road outside aspen where I have a vacation home and couldn't find a trash can and didn't want to carry my trash so I threw my aquafina bottle in the woods. I also forgot to bring a bag to pick up my toy poodle's crap, so I left it on the fire-road.

    Hopefully someone laughs and realizes how ridiculous all this squabbling has become.

    TK evokes strong responses, both positive and negative, indicating he is doing something right.

  36. Scott

    If that were true, and all opinions and ideas were respected, the live feed would still feature the live chat. It went from being an open live chat during the race, which was awesome, where those watching could discuss the race, shoes, gear, etc. Eventually the moderator became more and more limiting on what you could and could not say. Anything negatively slanted about a product,brand,athlete was blocked…now it's to the point you won't even allow a live chat.

    Trying to ride the fence will get your no where but sitting on the fence watching others, who are brave enough to play the game, surpass you.

  37. Jamie

    Look, more power to TK if he can live the life. I respect that. But this post is pretty much nonsense.

    #1 and #2 attempt to chastise commenters for asking why people find TK alluring. How is that not a fair question? You've bought into one answer: his lifestyle and integrity, but many of us are not convinced. There's a pretty good case to be made that his look is as important as any alleged integrity. But whatever you think, who are you to tell us not to ask the question? It goes a bit beyond ironic that the sponsor of the movie is chastising commenters for questioning the allure of his star. Fair enough if you want to defend TK, but don't suggest the conversation is "degenerating" because we haven't all bought in.

    #3 in particular is absurd. New Balance will sponsor TK as long as they believe it benefits them.

    The fact (alluded to in #4, but not admitted openly) that sometimes being "true" to the artist will benefit the sponsor in the long run does not change the fact that the sponsor is ultimately (and necessarily) self-interested.

    #5 is not only condescending, but directed at the wrong audience. It's a good bet that almost everyone commenting here is an ultrarunner.

    Finally, you're right that TK doesn't owe me anything, and vice versa, except for the basic respect we all owe each other. Same goes for you and me. I don't see anything violative of that basic respect to ask whether people find TK alluring because of who he is or because of how he looks. That's fine if you want to say its the former, but you aren't going to convince anyone by putting down the people who suspect its the latter.

  38. Meghan Hicks

    Scott,

    Your comment is founded in misinformation.

    The live chat feature of our CoverItLive windows during live-race coverage isn't permanently gone. It will be used during our live coverage of Speedgoat this Saturday and the rest of our races in our 2013 coverage "season." We most recently used it during our Western States coverage four weekends ago.

    We didn't use the live-chat feature at Hardrock two weekends ago because it's a very long race, a 24-hour race for the winning men and a 29-hour race for the winning women. Any time you have the comments feature turned on in CoverItLive, you have to have a "moderator" to approve comments (a feature of the CoverItLive system not in our control), and we think that's too many hours to require of our volunteer moderators. We also kept comments off for the CoverItLive window of our 2012 Hardrock coverage, for the same reason.

    Additionally, this statement, "…Eventually the moderator became more and more limiting on what you could and could not say. Anything negatively slanted about a product,brand,athlete was blocked…" is just plain incorrect on several levels.

    First, our moderators hit approve on almost every single comment made in CoverItLive so that all readers can see them. Probably only two or three times in our two years of using CoverItLive have our moderators chosen not to approve a comment for all readers to see. In all cases, those comments were basically just curse words not even related to the race, made probably by teenagers or other Internet trolls.

    Second, our CoverItLive moderators did not ask of specific behavior from commenters until after the Tarawera ultra this past March. During our coverage of that race, one or two people made a couple accusations in CoverItLive about a runner using PEDs. We are 100% intolerant of unfounded accusations like this, so our moderators began asking commenters to "play nice," if you will. In short, we now ask all of our commenters in CoverItLive to behave the same way that we ask commenters to behave in the comments section of iRunFar: say positive things, say negative things, but talk to each other in the same way that you'd talk on a trail run.

    In our Western States CoverItLive window, for example, commenters talked about all kinds of things, including some tangents that went far from the race itself like gear and athletes' lives beyond trail running. Not everyone agreed with each other, but everyone interacted in a respectful way. In my opinion, it's pretty awesome to look back at the CoverItLive window now (I invite you to do so, too) and see thousands of comments from that day about all kinds of stuff, and all of it carried out in a civil way.

  39. Mark

    Buzz,

    I guess you’re obliged to defend the enterprise you’re involved in, but the style you’ve chosen to do it it’s disappointing. I can’t see in your points enough room for the acknowledgment of reasons of those who disagrees with you.

    Talking about integrity. As Steve's already noticed, some things have changed since TK criticized DK (…). What about using in discussions/movies like these, big words like freedom, honesty, truth, commitment, authenticity, etc., more sparingly?

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