If you’re in the Bay Area on Sunday, Nov. 16, I hope you’ll join me at the Sports Basement Walnut Creek for the Trails In Motion Film Festival.
This will be more than a showing of several excellent short films and documentaries about trail running. It’s also a chance to hear from two world-class ultrarunners—Ian Sharman, Grand Slam of Ultrarunning record-holder and coach to other champions; and Victor Ballesteros, second-place finisher in the recent inaugural Tahoe 200—and … me.
Yes, I have been invited to present the program and take part in a Q&A session as a “special guest” with those guys. I’m really excited about the opportunity to hear from Ian and Victor about their training and racing. I guess I better change out of my mom jeans and finish at least one grade-A endurance adventure between now and then so I’ll feel legit sharing the mic with them!
If you haven’t heard of the Trails In Motion Film Festival, which showed in San Francisco and Silicon Valley earlier this year, it’s a film showcase and social gathering that features incredible, inspiring stories of runners and captivating footage of trails. South African trail runner James Hallett founded and directed the festival and held its first showings around South Africa. (The festival is showing in five other countries besides South Africa and the U.S., and it’ll be in Klamath Falls, OR, Oct. 11.)
Robert Rhodes, a Woodside resident and founder of BayTrailrunners, got the idea to bring it to the Bay Area. “I really had no clue what I was doing,” he told me, “but how hard could getting a bunch of trail and ultrarunners together to watch films about the sport be?”
The San Francisco showing took place in late April. I was at that event and enjoyed the opportunity to socialize with a good-sized crowd of Bay Area runners whom I normally only see at races or on Facebook. And the films are awesome! The same lineup of films will show at the Walnut Creek event.
Two of my favorite longer features are An Endurance Life, a 26-minute profile of French runner Sebastien Chaigneau, and In the High Country, a 30-minute doc about Anton Krupicka.
At the San Francisco screening, I had to leave before the final movie, a 45-minute film by one of my favorite trail running photographers, Matt Trappe. I can’t wait to see his film, Running the Edge: The Colorado Trail, this time around.
Interspersed between the four longer films are seven shorts, one of my favorite being Zion Traverse about Luke Nelson and Krissy Moehl’s attempt to set a record running across Zion. (See the lineup of short films here and documentaries here.)
I admire how this festival celebrates not only the sport of MUT (mountain/ultra/trail) running, but also the filmmakers and photographers behind the camera. A decade ago, I was involved with helping two filmmakers develop an award-winning documentary about running (Runners High), and I spent countless hours assisting them as they filmed the subjects of the movie. I learned that filming a runner presents a unique challenge, because the runner runs at you—and then runs away! The filmmaker needs to devise various ways to keep the camera moving alongside the runner, often running with the runner and holding the camera as steady as possible.
The film I worked on was in an urban setting on pavement, and therefore much easier logistically and physically to film than on a remote mountainside. When I think about the terrain these filmmakers traverse to get their shots, I’m in awe of them.
What you need to know about the Sunday, Nov. 16 event:
– It starts at 3pm, but try to get there earlier to shop the Sports Basement and to visit with other trail runners.
– The Sports Basement is at 1881 Ygnacio Valley Road, Walnut Creek. Yes, that means that many of you will have to drive through the Caldecott Tunnel or take BART way the heck out to the suburbs. But here’s the upside: You’ll be right at the edge of Mount Diablo, so you could combine the outing with a good long run on Diablo from the nearby Marshall Drive or Castle Rock Park trailheads. This is a TRAIL RUNNING film festival, so you can show up sweaty and dirty!
– If you take BART, then get off at the Pleasant Hill station, not Walnut Creek. It’s only 1.5 miles to walk or run from the Pleasant Hill station to the Sports Basement via Treat Boulevard and San Carlos Drive.
– The whole event will last around 3.5 hours (the films’ total running time is 2:45). There will be an intermission after the first seven films, at around 4:45. If you’re like a lot of parents I know whose kids have sports games on Sunday afternoons and you can’t be there when it starts at 3pm, then consider showing up for at least the second half.
– Robert will have fun prizes and drawings for attendees. Some snacks and beverages will be provided. If you’re really hungry, there’s a burrito place and cafes in the mall where the Sports Basement is located.
– Get tickets through Ultrasignup here for $10, or it’s $12 at the door.
Kudos to Robert Rhodes for bringing Trails In Motion to the Bay Area, and for fostering the trail running scene in the South Bay through BayTrailrunners, which he founded in 2012 to organize group runs and to host a growing calendar of trail races. (Next up: BayTrailrunners’ inaugural half marathon Oct. 5 in the Santa Cruz Mountains—check it out!)
I hope to see you at the film festival Nov. 16. Please message me or leave a comment below if you plan to attend.