A Cultural Dilemma

“I think part of the problem is that a lot of runners run outside of their lives. What I mean is that they run and then they go about their lives. The two are separate. Many people only run to look good for their ‘real’ lives. No one climbs mountains to get in shape. No one surfs for fitness.” – Joel Wolpert

This short quote is an excerpt from a recent email exchange with Joel, part of an ongoing discussion of ours about running-related media and specifically about how to document the sport in ways we find both authentic and creative. It is a challenging task to produce material that is true to one’s perception, but also relatable to a broader audience.

My interest in running-related media most often remains at a surface level, a mix of race coverage, reporting and training-specific articles. I am not using the word ‘surface’ in a negative way, as in superficial, since I do have a healthy appetite for this type of media, and there is plenty of high-quality content available. Rather, I observe that I do not find the same type of consistent inspiration and nourishment in running media that I do in other disciplines, such as surfing or climbing, for example. I have often wondered why I tend to look elsewhere for influences in my approach to the sport considering how passionate I am about running. I find myself trying to superimpose an outside culture and perspective on a sport into which I do not always quite fit.

In the above quote, Joel begins to present the beginning of an answer, where running is seen as something outside of our lives, rather than a lifestyle in and of itself. Perhaps part of the reason this type of disconnect is foreign to me is that I came to running from a different background, and did not grow up running in school. My primary interest has always been to spend time outside. Through climbing and backpacking, I developed a love for wild places, specifically mountainous landscapes. I was attracted to running as a simplified version of both of these activities; it was a way to explore the land further in an untethered manner. The heart of my inspiration to run lies first and foremost in wanting to form an experience in the place that I am in, with mountains playing a central part in my interests. Running as a lifestyle does not mean that it is an all-consuming pursuit, rather it is an integrated part of my daily routine and the fitness benefits derived from the activity are almost incidental.

As a result, the type of media I gravitate toward is one relating more to the land and environment where an activity is practiced. The depiction of a person’s authentic experience and self-expression in that particular place is more compelling to me than the activity itself. I climb much less than I run and I have not surfed in nearly 10 years, yet I draw from both of these activities as a daily source of inspiration significantly more often than running. The reason for this is that there is a much wider breadth of climbing-related media that pertains directly to the mountains, and surfing media that speaks to the wonders of the ocean. Place is of critical importance to portraying these activities as a whole, something that is less emphasized when documenting running.

In running-related media, the focus on the activity of running itself prevails over the landscape in which it takes place. To me, running in and of itself is less interesting than the relationship and experience that is formed by practicing the activity in a given place.

The idea that our relationship to place matters more than just the activity we pursue there was further accentuated for me during a recent trip to Alaska for the White Mountains 100. Winter racing in Alaska is unique since bikers, skiers, and runners often get to compete on the same course, at the same time. The chosen mode of transport seems of lesser importance than the desire to simply challenge oneself, self-propelled, in a difficult environment. Alaskans seem to be inherently excited to spend time outside. This sentiment often defines the underlying strength of people’s bond to a place whether they are bikers, skiers, mushers, or runners. When talking about an event such as the White Mountains 100 with fellow participants, the conversation quickly moves past the activities of running, biking, or skiing to the place in which we are engaging in these activities.

When running is presented as a lifestyle with a culture derived from the landscape in which it is practiced, I believe it will have a stronger identity, and one that is relatable to a much broader audience. It is my hope that I can reflect this type of approach in the way that I run and document the activity by offering a different perspective outside of the fitness-only angle that most often characterises our discipline.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you agree or disagree with Joe’s supposition that running-related media lacks the deeper storytelling of climbing- and surfing-related media?
  • Do you, like Joe, draw inspiration from other sports-related media? If so, what kinds and what are some specific examples from those other media?
  • What are some examples of running-related media you have seen that integrate storytelling of the environment, regional culture, and/or lifestyle of the runners with storytelling about the actual act of running?

Cultural Dilemma 1

Cultural Dilemma 2

Cultural Dilemma 3

Cultural Dilemma 4

Cultural Dilemma 5

Joe Grant

frequently adventures in wild places, both close to home (a frequently changing location) and very far afield. He inspires others by sharing his words and images that beautifully capture the intersection of the wilds, movement, and the individual at Alpine Works.

There are 31 comments

  1. jaxcharlie845

    Great article Joe. I do think we're seeing more and better coverage for trail and mountain running as the sport is gaining in popularity, but it's got a ways to go to catch up to some of the older sports! I'm constantly on the lookout for new and exciting content!

  2. @Baristing

    Running is a versatile tool. It can be used to explore natural places, and urban environments. You can find inspiration in either. It can be used to improve one's self image, physical and mental health. And it can, of course, be used to carve away seconds, minutes, hours from previous personal bests, to satisfy deeply and primitive competitive urges. Each of these uses – and countless others – births a culture around it, and all are valid.

    Whether treadmill or trail, whether inspired by nature or the clock, it's all good.

  3. ClownRunner

    At least those people running "just to get in shape for their 'real' lives" are not part of the non-active obese costing taxpayers multi-millions in healthcare.

    Yes, I think guys like Joe Grant and Tony K. and Geoff Roes and a slew of others who "become one with the terrain they are running on" are the exact people we need in this "sport"….but conversely, pick up a Surfing, or Windsurfing, or Climbing magazine, and alot of the lifestyle is not just about appreciation of the natural world but also trying to look good, be cool, and fit in with like-minded people. So I don't think it's necessarily more "pure" overall.

    However, by its nature, running can be dissociated from the natural world (treadmill, urban roads, running around a track) in a way that surfing cannot. But even climbing can take place in a gym, and you just might do it to "stay in shape" and "look good".

  4. @DavidRFrank

    @gredan05 is 100% right that "running is too race oriented," but I would say only for some. It's been a slow and complicated transition for me from checking my mile splits every run to just thinking about an aesthetic line though the mountains. Both have there place in running, just as climbing and surfing have their respective camps.

    I would say that running never really had the athletes who got paid just to be runners; we don't even have sponsorship money for all of our Olympians. New media has given the a subset of runners the opportunity to make a living outside of the traditional track and road circuits by telling their story though written word, pictures and video. It seems like all of the "good storytellers" are just developing their voice (and place in running).

  5. @jordancolburn

    I actually don't like the way climbing media presents climbing. It almost denigrates your experience as a climber if you're just someone who enjoys climbing and not someone who gives up jobs, school and family to dirtbag it across the country in an old van every summer. I see a lot of people that seem to be overcompensating and trying to live the "climber lifestyle" b/c it's not cool enough to simple enjoy climbing once or twice a month.

    Part of the problem is that you have to travel to the mountains or a gym to climb. The beauty of running for me is that it's something you can do anywhere, anytime. The misunderstanding I see most people have about running is that it is temporary suffering to either get fit, or train for a race goal. If people actually just enjoyed going for a run and challenging themselves, that is the key culture shift that incorporates running into a "lifestyle" (also why I think Born to Run is so popular, it just amazes non-runners that running could "seem so fun".)

  6. olgav100

    It's about how media paints any sport. There are plenty of "living in the running and nothing else" these days because new opportunities arose for those trail runners to be at least somewhat supported and be able to eat, rent and travel. There are, I am sure, runners out there, as climbers and surfers, who do this as free-spirited peeps and hold no jobs, and they are not portrayed (often/much). It's all nice and stuff, drop your college/job/don't have family/have extremely supported spouse and just submerge into the mountains/water/forests. But in reality, can we all survive like that? As for running-related media, it is just in its infancy, it'll pick up and showcase more and more "just wandering" vs races. Right now we're in the stage of trail racing hype in the country. Once it cools off, some will stay, some will go, and media will follow and split: one for racing, one for free soul/dream large (sometimes while sitting at the desk). Diversity is good. We all can pick what we want/need.

  7. kjz

    I wholeheartedly agree. Running and moving through mountains, plains, trails, off trail has given me a deep connection to place, to weather, and to individuals. I appreciate harsh weather, hidden loveliness that you have to work to see, and difficult conditions as much as delicate flowers and in-your-face beauty. I derive far more from an "adventure run" through a place than a race, but I appreciate races because someone is willing to give me aid along the way and facilitate some exploration along a prescribed path. I long for more of the rambling types of adventure runs–but in life, as in weather, there are seasons… and so I forge on.

  8. senelly

    Very thought provoking, Joe. Though I have totally enjoyed "performing" in races, running is integral with my life. Here are some of my thoughts after reading your piece:
    1. Can I run pretty much anytime, anyplace?
    2. Can I run on my own until I am spent?
    3. Can I run without telling anyone how far or fast I ran?
    4. Can I run without competing in a running event?
    5. Can I run and think about my source, my family, my work, my friends, my… and so on, until I get to the subject of myself?
    6. Can I run and contemplate the universe?
    7. Can I run and think about how fortunate I am to run?

    Thank you for the provocation!

  9. solveforxy

    Living in the Wasatch, I spend far more time reading ski mountaineering and backcountry touring media than I do running, merely because they are far more engaged with the terrain in an aesthetic manner.

    I do believe that, as the practice continues to mature, there will be a space for more aesthetic, contemplative, even artistic directions.

    The first voices are already there (and really, already have always been there), now it is a question of developing a culture that uses this vernacular, that can identify the objectives and ethics and respond accordingly.

  10. @Watoni

    I have to say I find myself a bit mystified about this distinction between running. climbing and surfing. Growing up in a surf culture people surf for all sorts of reasons, many of which are status oriented. The surf scene, like any other, has its authentic moments and its not so authentic moments, and surfing is of course much more of a commercial juggernaut than trail running.

    I do agree racing is a tricky source of inspiration. I find films like Unbreakable to be highly motivating, as much for the stories of those involved as for the race. Trail races still inspire me, though, unlike cycling races where the doping and the corruption make it so far from what enthusiasts do, even if we often ride the same roads.

    My hope is trail running does focus on the joy of being outdoors, of experiencing oneself as a part of something bigger and testing one's limits. I take motivation from you, Joe, so keep on it!

  11. totops1

    Though I really liked this article and while it's nourishing a ton of reflections on my own, I don't agree totally with you Joe.
    There are TONS of people out there that run to run and to discover mountains and places…..instead of running to just be fit or racing. We just dont hear about them because they have no interest of being in the light… and also because it doesn't sell shoes or jackets….
    It is the choice of the medias to serve us racing-related articles, health benefits…..
    I have myself stopped reading irunfar racing articles because honestly, I dont care AT ALL who was 1st at Lake Sonoma…..(je m'en bats les c* honnetement, tu comprendras je suis sur ;-))
    But I love your articles or Geoff's ones where the topic is deeper and less "split-oriented"

    I am also a HUGE fan of climbing and while I dont climb at all since running has taken over it, I still follow and watch
    climbing contents because of my interest of the sport but like you said because of the type of beautiful content it offers.
    I agree that running media and other platforms are behind and the only one in my opinion that offers
    a similar type of content is Seb Montaz through his work with Kilian I have found a lot of similarities.
    We can hope that like mountain biking, climbing (from which it started with Edlinger in the 80's) will pick up and nourish better and deepr contents)

    But I am sure we will see more of this type of content in the future. It's just that most of the running elite were introduced
    running as track n field and since there are the elite, the media adapts the content to them and for them.

    Hence I totally agree that the media that we have access is very racing oriented…. everybody that knows me asks me if I followed the Boston marathon?
    I didnt even know it was this week !!!! and I dont even care !!

    Again, great piece of article, please go on !

  12. @RunTitusRun

    an awesome question. Where I live and run the mountain bike community is very enviable in that they get together to ride, do trail maintenance, plan ways to encourage younger riders, build badass bonfires and just hang out. The trail running community, on the other hand, I believe remains small by and large because of exactly what you say; that is, if it's not about racing or fitness, it's meaningless. I got into this to practice this 'art of fluid motion over rugged terrain', to poeticize about roots and rocks and mud and trees and snow with my body, to live a different life. Trailrunning isn't what I do; a trail runner is what I am.

  13. jdavid5

    Running is (for me at least) a solitary endeavor, more so than climbing or surfing.
    And while even the average couch potato can find the romance in catching the perfect wave or standing atop a desert spire as the sun sets, not so much when it comes to running…at least not until we can forget the word "jogging" ever existed.
    So with regards to media on the subject, how do you present quality content? Video, for all practical purposes must be staged to showcase the wonderful solitude of a long run, which only serves to defeat the purpose. Pictures? There are some great example of running photography out there, but none compare to those shot from inside the tube, or in the perfect light, running it out on a long pitch, high in the mountains.
    Writing? Seriously, besides Joe's own blog, there is really nothing (IMO) else out there that so succinctly captures what running means to me. And try conveying the quiet of a long run late at night in the heat of the summer to a coworker the following Monday. Whereas, man I sent a great line, or caught a great set will garner at least some admiration, talking about a 4 hour meditative run under the stars all by yourself will most likely draw only a blank stare.
    So, while I will still seek out media on the subject, I am quite content to enjoy the fact that the very thing that defines running for me is also the primary obstacle that serves to keep the masses from understanding why I do it…and I like it like that.

  14. @SeamusFoy

    Wow, great article and beautiful pictures!

    I might be oblivious to what most running media looks like, but the only running media I ever pay attention to seems to emphasize runners in amazing places. Whether it's Trail Porn (see right column–currently, the Sahara) or one of the many great running vids out there from Salomon, the new one from Montrail, the Altra Olympus vid, or the longer films from Anton and Kilian, they seem to me to be all about the athlete facing the challenge of a beautiful and brutal landscape. That's what makes it awesome!

    I think many years of skiing influences the way I see trail running. I'm more interested in a crazy way to descend a technical trail than in running a fast race. Racing is beautiful in its own right, but there is something expressive about ripping down a trail in an unusual way.

  15. NegativeSplits

    You should get a hold of the kind of cycling reportage that Rouleur does. It's the answer that you are seeking and it's an endurance sport related publication also.

  16. JoeWGrant

    Thank you all for the thoughtful comments. I was a bit hesitant at first to write this article as it's difficult to properly articulate my point of view in a concise manner. There are a few points I'd like to clarify.
    First, I'm not suggesting that running represented as more of a lifestyle should be the only way to showcase the activity or the only aspect that interests me. I follow iRunFar race coverage just as much as the next guy and often get sucked into hours of hitting the refresh button during races. I'm really thankful this type of coverage is available to us. I also read training related articles and a wide variety of other running media. The point I was trying to make is that as a whole the lifestyle side of surfing or climbing and the connection to place is more frequently presented in those activities from a wider variety of perspectives. That doesn't mean all of surfing and climbing is represented in this manner, far from it actually. The style of media I enjoy in surfing and climbing is less common in running, but that's not to say it's not there. Some great examples are cited above such as Seb Montaz' work, The African Attachment, Joel's work, Rickey Gates's writing and photos and many more. By no means do I think you need to quit job, family and everything else to make running a lifestyle. It's more about the style and intent that goes into the activity even if you can only get out to run once in a while. I don't think it's a superior perspective in any way, simply the one I relate to the most. As a result, it's what I look for in running media and long for more of this type of content. I respect everyone's perspective and reasons for running equally. In the article, I'm simply aiming to highlight what interests me the most.

    1. @ree_ti_ree

      I think I respond to the type of media you mention in a similar way. I've never been much beyond a middle pack runner, and would read Runner's World and look at the pictures in the late '70s and early '80s for inspiration. At a certain point I dropped reading it and my brother asked me why I said something like, it is trying to be what running 'IS', and that is not what running is to me. Basically, I'd lost a connection to the stories or values being expressed at that time. That said, there was a RW article the stuck with me about running Rim to Rim in the Grand Canyon, probably more than 30 years ago. So, there is your connection to location article! Approximately 15 years after reading that article, I went to the library, found that old issue of RW and photo-copied the article to continue to read for inspiration. It was in the late '90s that I traveled to the GC and did my own Rim to River and back expedition, all based on that old article, which I still think about fondly today! I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this subject.

  17. patrick_thurber

    Ah, the email chain rap session. Where all the world's problems are solved, haha! I really liked this article. So, Imma comment:

    1.) (This is sort of tangential to your topic) In talking about an "activity as a lifestyle," I've always been so amazed and inspired by fans of running. By and large, people who self-identify as "Runners" and follow the sport, also engage in the activity in a big way. I'd wager that anyone who regularly reads iRunFar is also getting out and running at least 5 days per week (if not more).

    2.) (This isn't) In regard to the media generated by other outdoor sports, I also follow a lot of climbing and cycling websites. At first, I was sort of surprised at how normal it is in climbing (for example) that a follower of the sport not actually climb very often, like maybe just a couple of months per year in total (one or two big trips to the mountains and a smattering of days in the gym). To add some other explanation for the differences between climbing media and running media, I can say that if I only made ONE trip per year to run trails, I'd video the hell out of that time and spend the rest of the year editing it with epic music and long, HD pans of the scenery. Hahaha, maybe THAT'S the cause of the difference in running media…we spend SO much time outside that we don't even think to capture every moment. AND (so much coffee this morning) perhaps there's a practical explanation for the difference: It's hard to video your homies when they're running and you're running also! A run starts and is (ideally) not supposed to be interrupted and stopped. Whereas climbing often has one person climbing and numerous other people hanging around and watching: perfect opportunity to capture a long, technical climb. There's so much time, in fact, that the guy with camera starts shooting trees and lakes and stuff. They spend more time just "being" in the place, where a runner sort of blasts through it…hahaha, I'm not sure were this is going anymore and I don't anyone will read it all the way through, but I'm hitting "submit." Here we go…

  18. @DesertumEM

    It's all about the money. The companies that pay for high quality, well shot and professionally directed media in the climbing and surfing industries are *climbing* and *surfing* companies. The running industry is driven by shoe companies, for whom running is only a small part of their business. Most of them are focused on the big money makers of soccer and basketball. Check out the amazing soccer media that Nike has released this year. It is jaw droppingly good. There has been a small influx of great running media in the last five years (Salomon, North Face, Wolpert, et al), but it is just a trickle compared to the deluge of climbing and surfing videos that come out every day. I think the solution is for we runners to take matters into our own hands. The tools needed to shoot and edit great content get less expensive and easier to use every day. Aesthetics? Well, we can't all be Joel Wolpert, but… If we open our eyes and stay in the moment while we are outside every day, good things could start happening.

  19. dallasgreen84

    Great Article!

    Personally though I feel that everything under the sun these days are being documented and commercialized. Now before I start with that open ended response I dare not say that I'm against it fully as I to like to watch IRUNFAR coverage and read articles and watch the many brilliant films being produced (Summits of My Life, In The High Country, etc…) but I also feel that in some ways this is also a downfall in human relations as is with everything these days (FB, Twitter..)

    Running on a trail, mountain, road, or where ever was once a type of vehicle to explore even if its already been explored before by others, its still new to YOU! Its in this pioneer/exploration state of mind that you get to see the secrets of the trail or ridgeline unfold by sweat and hardwork! This usually comes with pleasure of reaching a summit or finish line, or simply completing a simple run around a city block you never been before.

    This is what I like about running. Its a simple means of exploration, and I feel almost like a pioneer! Exploring backcountry trails, and even local trails that are NEW to ME! I like going back and telling stories to friends and family members about it afterwards with no pictures or video as doing so loses what I think is truly lost in this generation(s)….Imagination!

    Storytelling is a lost art, we can connect anymore without a screen in front of us (Ironic that I am typing all of this now on a keyboard.. I know lol) but this true connection of storytelling with a group of friends around a table with a beer or good food has long been laid to rest with social media, documentary, pictures, tv, and other like minded sources of information.

    The idea of fantasy and daydreaming of a mountain peak you hope to one day tag or some sweet trail you want to run cause some mountaineer came back and told you great stories about it over dinner use to spark imagination and now its gone in many ways. It has spoiled all the surprises and elements of exploration as its all laid out in front of you to view with a simple click of a "play button". Thank YouTube HA!

    Rather, I wish we could save those moments for ourselves and simply get back to primitive storytelling by word of mouth or written text, and allow imagination to come back to life. I think it would motivate new young pioneers and even old pioneers to discover or rediscover mother nature.

    Not sure about anyone else but I have watched so many summit tags on Longs via Youtube or in the film In The High Country that I practically already feel I climbed the damn thing myself ha! Same thing with Western States 100, or Matterhorn. Its all laid out in front of me to watch on repeat. My Imagination is mute on some of these mystical places, races and I didn't even have to work for any of them.

    I mean isn't that the goal after all? To really connect to place and most importantly EARN the right to talk about it by actually doing it?

    Thats my 2 cents :)

    Again,Great Article! I like how you write, as your topics create discussion and deep ones at that.

  20. @Joeatpasp

    Great article as always.

    As graduate student who studies ideas about the environment I have to admit that those ideas shape my view a great deal more than any other media.

    As a veteran of three tours in Iraq, who has to redefine an altered sense of of an ever dangerous sense of nature, I am in ways blessed that I have had to take great efforts to redefine and reconnect with the place that I live in.

    What is so alluring about watching Joe, Anton, and Joel got up Green and Longs over and over again, is not just the media, but the philosophy they represent with all there expressions. From images, to training log to video what makes me come back to it time and tie again are the ideas.

    I suggest you guys think of yourselves as intellectuals (because historians better think of you that way in the future) who need to express the ideas that move them through whatever medium they can. The rest will come as naturally as running and climbing a mountain summit. I haven't had the chance to summit Green or Longs but your lives continually inspire me to drag myself up the much humbler peaks in the closest land trust to wear I live. Focus on the ideas.

  21. SYY

    Great article, Joe! This really resonated with me as much of my life has revolved around surfing, and I've always lived on the 'lifestyle' side of surfing's cultural spectrum. I think that this is what attracted me to mountain running several years ago – same stoke and connection, different terrain and medium.

    Joe, let me know if you're ever in San Diego, I'd be stoked to take you out at my home break…

  22. Max

    Most consumers in the running industry don't get running as a way to explore places or self. Based on negative Once a Runner reviews I'll argue that most people who run are offended when running is hyped to something greater than a means to an end. Even Salomon's videos only really dove into running as a lifestyle in their current season, and I wonder how much contact the African Attachment has with the guys behind the Salomon Freeski TV.

    I don't think that the running dirtbag lifestyle is this new thing only starting now, it's been around for as long as there's been running as a sport. Difference between running and other such sports is that climbing, surfing, skiing, demand such a commitment that they can't be used as a tool to get fit or look pretty. The purity of running, put on shoes and go, is also the reason why those who do it out of love for it all are overshadowed by those logging 2 miles as the doctor ordered.

  23. Mike

    I completely agree with you, Joe. Time constraints sometimes limit the places I can go for runs. But, when I know I have a day that is wide open, you can pretty much guarantee that I'll be in the mountains. And I go simply to be there. If my objective was to get in a hard training session, I could just go down the street to a small local peak that is packed with dozens of hikers and other folks enjoying themselves. But I go to the mountains that are less, if at all, occupied to experience the mountains themselves. For me, that's the reason I run. I feel at home and at peace in the mountains.

  24. VictwaW

    This is the first article that has made me reconsider writing about running. I used to write about trails I'd been on with the vague notion of creating a resource for people (which I still like the idea of, just not passionate about it), and then wrote some race reports but have not written a word about running in the last 4 years because I think I'm becoming less and less interested in racing. I still love running and spending long days on the trails, so it's not like I like running any less. I also adore me a good story and love the crap out of the Dirtbag Diaries, which started with climbers but has grown to more outdoor stories. I don't know if that is exactly what you mean about lifestyle writing, but yes, it's true that there isn't enough of it about running. I fully agree with you that yes, there is a place for race reporting and I appreciate the amazing growth of iRunFar… but it's just a small piece of the whole experience and generally speaking, I don't feel my running experience relates to people that win races, and frankly, I'm not sure I want my experience to be that. (Again, Bryon, Meghan and the rest of the crew– carry on! My experience also doesn't resonate with, say, world famous musicians, but I still love reading good writing about them!) I appreciate you using the concept of place when you talk about running– and yes, the vast majority of running writing seems to have nothing to do with place–and right now in my life, running has everything to do with place. The place I run every day (Wildcat Canyon, in a little corner of the East Bay) has indelibly changed me, and running is how I have grown to know this small corner of the universe. Thank you for this article.

  25. @jheim

    With all do respect to Joel; if you love 5ks and "color runs" running may be outside of life. For those of us who abhor pavement and go out of our way to find dirt, if only for a few miles a week, running is not outside of life. For those of us who only enter small races in fascinating and often unknown places, running is not outside of life. For those of us who loathe the gym and would use almost any excuse to find a trail instead, running is not outside of life. For those of us who get lost at work in daydreams about running UTMB with Kilian or Lizzy, running is not outside of life.

    Even in trail running, the elites can sometimes obsess a bit too much about training and nutrition. But, for the 99%, running is a celebration of life. We are not fast and we don't care. In our endorphin stirred imaginations, we are Daniel Day Lewis in "Last of the Mohicans" and it's freak'n awesome.

    If that's not life, don't tell me, I don't want to know.

  26. @MattTrappe

    I agree with Joe's perspective completely. The explanation, in my experience, is because most of the running photo/video content that we all watch has been supported in some way by a running-related brand. Trail/Ultra/Mountain running is a quickly growing segment of running that is being approached from two angles by these brands. You have the traditional running brands (Nike, Brooks, Saucony, etc.) that have a track/road/cross-country background. This approach has the mindset of splits/standings/PRs. The other angle is from a more outdoorsy perspective (Salomon, TNF, Montrail) where, much like Joe's approach, the enjoyment is in the outdoors themselves. These brands come from the business of climbing/surfing/skiing where the media content reflects this love of the outdoors. So as a result I think you see two types of media in the ultra world where some is more race/training focused and some is more focused on exploring both the world and yourself. In reality some brands are more focused on the revenue associated with the mass-market approach but I do see a tendency toward the outdoorsy approach because of the wow-factor that the spectacular scenery/footage brings and the ease with which it can now be captured with smaller/lighter/cheaper yet high quality camera equipment.

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