Running Films

A discussion about the boom in trail running films.

By on March 6, 2015 | 5 comments

AJWs TaproomAt the end of last year in my year-end awards column, I added a new category for best trail running video. At the time I thought it would just be a fun little addition to the other, more standard award categories. However, in the weeks since then I have been intrigued by the trail running film boom that seems to be sweeping across the landscape. It seems like everybody is out running and shooting videos. It’s awesome!

Since moving to Charlottesville, Virginia in the summer of 2011, I have hosted a running film at my school every year. In 2012 we screened JB Benna’s Unbreakable, in 2013 we had a great showing of Joel Wolpert’s In the High Country, and just last year we hosted Matt Trappe with his film Running the Edge. All three events were great community builders and showcased amazing runners coupled with talented filmmakers.

This year (actually next week on the eve of the second running of the Thomas Jefferson 100k) we are taking things a step further and hosting Rainshadow Running’s Trail Running Film Festival. This really cool event was started a couple years ago by my friend James Varner in the Pacific Northwest and it has grown exponentially since. Coupling trail running films with beer and camaraderie has proven to be a very successful formula and I, for one, am really looking forward to bringing the festival to Tandem Friends School.

What is it about trail running that has led to this film boom? Well, certainly there is the splendid scenery. That sometimes, alone, has inspired folks to pull out their cameras. Then, there are the incredible stories: of perseverance, opportunity, grit, and hope. In many ways the narratives combined with the settings are truly compelling. Then, on top of the stories and the scenes, there is the talent and the artistry of these excellent filmmakers. From where I sit, we are in the golden age of running artistry.

I have often said that the best ultrarunners I know have mastered the fact that training and racing these things is truly a science and an art. Success in ultras often requires the scientist’s focus combined with the artist’s eye. Perhaps this is why these talented filmmakers seem to be coming out of the woodwork? In fact, perhaps they’ve been here all along?

Bottoms up!

South Street BreweryAJW’s Beer of the Week

At next Thursday’s Trail Running Film Festival we’ll be featuring three great beers from the region. One of these beers will come from the new South Street Brewery in Charlottesville, Virginia. Their Satan’s Pony Amber Ale is a smooth-drinking, classically flavored brew that goes great with inspiring running films.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What do you think about the trail running film boom? What have been some of the films that you have really enjoyed? What about these particular films got you most excited?
  • What stories would you like to see featured in films that haven’t yet been?
  • For the pro and amateur filmmakers out there, what kinds of stories get you most fired up about telling?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.