Who is a Runner is a series by Brooks in collaboration with Camp4 Collective. Erin McGrady’s story is the last episode in this series that follows runners from around the U.S. and tells their stories. The question “who is a runner?” can be answered simply: everyone. How come? Because running, indeed, is for everyone.
What about Erin’s story?
“It takes the first 5-6 miles for the ‘bird’s nest’ in Erin McGrady’s head to unravel,” writes Camp4 Collective. “And then, putting one foot in front of the other, the photographer and writer works to create and celebrate safe spaces for others in the queer community. Together, with her wife Caroline Whatley, in spite all they are up against as queer women in the South, they turn their attention toward the joy they get from traveling and creating community.”
Erin’s story, told in less than 9 minutes, is one of courage, defiance, and victory. Who is a runner? Erin.
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.
It took me a few months to get to watching this documentary that Patagonia published on YouTube in 2020. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give an hour and 11 minutes of my time to watching a documentary about something, no matter how much I love it. The truth is, for several of those months, there wasn’t an hour in my life that I could spend consuming media. There was my job, there were internships, there was the constant fight for the right to stay in the country that has become my home.
Why talk about how long it took me to finally watch this documentary? Only to tell you all that I should have made time earlier, no matter the life circumstances, to watch it.
It’s a documentary not so much about climbing as it is a documentary about the people of climbing, the beautiful, kind, crazy, and incredible people, each with their own stories and experiences that shaped them both as people and as climbers.
It’s about the community that comes together when one is in need, about a community tight-knit not only by the shared love for climbing but by the bonds of friendships built over time and through trials and trust.
It’s about beauty and danger, about freedom and responsibility, and about so much more it seems nearly impossible to put it into one short summary. Therefore, I ask you to give this documentary 71 minutes of your own time—and I ask you this because I know that every single second is worth it.
This past weekend, I escaped the confines of society (including cell service — oh, how peaceful that was!) and made my way to Calaveras County. Famous for its giant sequoias, this park is nestled between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe. And even though it doesn’t get nearly as much attention as these two big-name destinations, it’s still well worth a visit.
It was colder than what the weather forecast predicted and my PB&J mix froze solid, but it made the hot morning coffee all that much more enjoyable!
Without any further ado, here’s a short video from the journey. See you next week when we’ll continue our Hawai’i adventure!
I am a slow runner. This is not a complaint, and it’s not a critique. It’s just a plain statement of the truth. I can hold a 12-minute/mile pace for about 10 kilometers, and a 15-minute/mile pace for 20 miles, but that’s about it. After giving it absolutely everything, I was able to finish my first 50-mile race in just under 25 hours. Yes, I did spend roughly four hours in aid stations and getting my foot iced and taped so that I could keep moving, but still, this is SLOW.
And so it might come as a bit of a surprise that I do, in fact, enjoy seeing people chase FKTs (fastest known times), even though I know that nothing like that will ever be possible for me. (Well, unless I establish a route and keep my snail-paced FKT until someone comes to take a stroll and beats it.)
Today, I wanted to share with you two of my favourite FKT documentaries (oh wow, saying I’ve got a favourite FKT documentary feels like choosing a favourite child), both of them from the wonderful Wonderland Trail (most up-to-date FKTs can be found on this link).
The first Wonderland Trail FKT film I ever saw was about Gary Robbins who got his FKT in 2015, made by Ethan Newberry, also knows as The Ginger Runner. I re-watched it several times since. Gary is a beyond-inspiring runner (seriously, watch “Where Dreams Go to Die” to see what real grit is).
The second film I’m going to recommend today is also by Ethan Newberry, and follows Kaytlyn Gerbin, the current holder of the female supported FKT, and Dylan Bowman, who held the male supported FKT on the Wonderland Trail for just five days.
I hope you’ll enjoy these, I hope they’ll motivate you, and I’ll be back next week, hopefully back from the dead so I can tell you all about my Cool Moon 50-mile race which I haven’t recovered from yet. Just a little teaser: I totally got my money’s worth, having experienced it all; hallucinations, chafing, unstoppable nosebleed, nausea and throwing up, ridiculous heat, being stripped naked at an aid station to be brought back from the dead, and having to walk downhill backwards because legs gave up on me.
Patagonia has some really good short films and documentaries, there’s no arguing that. But last week I happened upon one that, for some reason, had been elusive to me up until that point but which I consider one of my favourite ones now. (Ouch, this was a super hard thing to say — nearly all of Patagonia’s short documentaries are my favourite ones!)
And because I’m publishing this from an airport, which means that in a few minutes, I’ll be on an airplane, re-watching this documentary, and because I genuinely think this short documentary is as heart-breaking as it is beautiful, and as important as it is, perhaps, unwanted, I thought the best course of action would be to share it with you all.
We all have probably heard about deforestation and realize that it poses a certain amount of threat to our future and the future of the planet. But how often do we hear about how bad it really gets, or about the people who are putting their own bodies on the line against heavy machinery to save the lungs of the planet and the homes of millions of species?
“I’ve felt Country talk freely to you and then run back to the same place months later to a silent and sterile wreck of splinters and dirt. This is a fundamental fight. The disease of man chasing money is real and it’s an epidemic… We fight on.”
What is being done? What can we do? And how is one runner helping save the Tarkine forest?
Patagonia answered this and more in takayna | What If Running Could Save a Rainforest.
Despite the year that 2020 has been, in the past two months, a few new ultra/trail running films were released. And even though every single one of them tells stories of perseverance and resistance, there are two that spread the message more than others, accompanied by stunning visuals and featuring amazing humans.
For Rangers Ultra
For Rangers Ultra is a stage race through the beautiful and wild plains of Kenya. This race was put on in support of the rangers that roam those plains and are the last frontier between poachers and the wildlife.
Golden Trail Championship 2020
The Faial island in Portugese Azores hosted the 2020 Golden Trail Championship despite all the hurdles. With races being canceled left and right this past year, the championship pushed through. Jim Walmsley, Stian Angermund, Maude Mathys and Tove Alexandersson take the audience behind the scenes and through all the adrenaline-filled courses.