Into the Well: A Gnarly Way to Get to Know the Raw Beauty of New River Gorge National Park

Into The Well: 100 Miles. 32 Hours. 200 Racers. is an outdoor adventure documentary feature film telling the story of personal endurance. An excruciating test of how far one is willing to push themself to accomplish their goals. Follow three West Virginians as they prepare for the first 100-mile ultramarathon in the New River Gorge National Park where they’ll take on a challenge far greater than they could ever have imagined.” (The Folkway)

To be honest, I went into this documentary slightly worried. Not only is it the length of a full-feature film; the first few seconds of anxiety-inducing music didn’t alleviate the tension. On the other hand, it did capture perfectly how it feels at the start of such an endeavor. It’s not like people die from DNF-ing (DNF = did not finish) challenges like this (not usually, anyway) but they still make the heart race, at least a little bit.

To worry I did need not. Yes, the documentary is the length of a full-feature film but it’s also of similar quality—in fact, it’s better than some of the films I’ve seen in my lifetime. It pulled me in quickly and didn’t let go; just like a race you have to keep coming back to until you finish it.

Rim to River 100 is an ultramarathon in the New River Gorge National Park. It takes its runners on an out-and-back journey up and down and down and up from the rim of the Gorge to down along the banks of the New River and promises winding single track and a few, shall we say, gorgeously gnarly sections.

“Along with the natural beauty of waterfalls, whitewater, & dramatic views, you’ll also find ghost towns, centuries-old cemeteries, & abandoned mine shafts throughout the course,” reads the official description on the Rim to River 100 website.

Intrigued yet? Or worried, just like I was? Well, I won’t write much more and, instead, let the documentary do its thing. Let the raw beauty of this challenging trail pull you in just like it did with me. Warning: this process apparently includes “shoes filled with blood,” as HollyAnn informs you within the first few moments of your own emotional journey.

Inaugural Year: The Story of Cocodona 250 | Video

A film by Dylan Harris, Inaugural Year isn’t only about the story of the race itself but also (or perhaps mainly) about the stories of the people who spent days conquering the 250 miles long course.

On May 3, 2021, 176 runners toed the starting line of Cocodona 250, a brand new footrace that was to take them through true Old West towns as well as some really dark patches. A lot can and will happen during any ultra but 250 miles offer a lot more opportunities for things to go wrong (or right!) than your usual 50-miler, and this film portrays beautifully the runners’ struggle to get to the finish line, the highs and the lows and unpredictable ups and downs of such an event.

With interviews from Michael Versteeg, the winner of the inaugural Cocodona 250 and, therefore, the first person to ever finish the race, Pete Mortimer, who came in second, Maggie Guterl, the first female finisher, and other incredible athletes who took on the course, this short film is a beautiful portrayal of the race and well worth a watch.

If video embed doesn’t work on your device, click HERE to watch the film directly on YouTube.