I’ve been re-listening to Scott Jurek’s book Eat and Run during the week as I was working and traveling for work. As it happens, one of the chapters I listened to this week was the one in which Jurek explained what happened when he paced Brian Morrison at the 2006 Western States Endurance Run. Jurek was there besides Morrison when he stumbled, fell, got up, fell again, got up, collapsed again, and was walked across the line with Jurek’s help. Despite being the first to cross the line, the help he received in those last few hundred meters of the race saw his result recorded as a DQ – disqualified – instead of the 1st place that he and his team hoped they would record.
Morrison would run Western States again but never finished. Then, in 2016, Morrison returned to Western States and this time he brought Ethan Newberry, the Ginger Runner, along to record his latest attempt at winning a silver buckle. The film that Newberry made is titled A Decade On and it was released today. As I have an ultra distance training run planned for tomorrow, it was the perfect film for me to watch as I prepared myself mentally for the run to come.
Newberry does well in the opening, setting the scene and introducing Morrison to those who might not know his story. HIs pacers – including Jurek from the 2006 race – and his family are featured, too, making the point once again that this sport might be an individual pursuit but no one really runs truly alone.
When it comes to scenery there are some beautiful Californian vistas, lots of close up aid station and action footage, too. I liked the shots that Newberry took of Morrison running in front of the camera, moving forward in the heat. You can’t see Morrison’s face but I imagine it as set on the task, committed to finally winning that Western States buckle…and then there’s a cut and Morrison is hiking, talking about how hard things are, talking about the climbs. It’s almost as if I am imparting onto him something that’s not there, or at least not externalized just yet.
I won’t spoil the film for you – it’s really worth watching for yourself – but I do think it is well made and tells the story of someone who isn’t running at the front of the 2016 pack well. I can’t help but be impressed by the Rob Krar, Geoff Roes, and Killian Jornet’s of the world running hard at the front, but the stories from further back in the pack are sometimes just as compelling. In Brian Morrison and his return to the Western States a decade after his DQ, Ethan Newberry has found one of those stories.
I don’t know if I’ll watch this one over and over as I have some other ultrarunning movies but it’s certainly a good film. When Newberry has a good subject – Wonderland is another of his films that come to mind in this vein – then he seems to do his best work. This is the perfect movie for getting me pumped for tomorrow and inspired to run on – it’s well worth a watch.