I’m a fan of running movies and I have favorites that I like to watch in the days leading up to a race. Call it motivational, call it part of my preparation routine, but whatever: I like to watch inspirational stories on the trails.
Cécile says a lot of these movies are the same: they start off sad, then the finish is triumphant. She’s right in a way – that’s a trope of the ultrarunning movie scene, I guess – but I don’t mind. I like the films, they inspire me, and I don’t mind watching them again and again.
Among my favorites are Unbreakable (about the WSER), 100: Head/Heart/Feet (about the Vermont 100 Endurance Race), and the Jenn Shelton bio Outside Voices. With a few dollars sitting in my PayPal account, I spent $5 on a new film today called No Handoffs about a runner who managed a 200 mile relay race alone in 2010. I thought it would be just the sort of thing to get me psyched up in the days before the Ultra Boucle de la Sarra this Saturday.
I was wrong.
The start of the film is very low budget. While the voiceover seems professional enough, the script is delivered over low quality images and some YouTube quality news clips of the runner on various new and morning shows. Indeed, YouTube quality is about what this film is throughout. While some of the running footage is pleasant and the scenery is ‘all American’, the interview sections with the runner are low quality, the sound atrocious, and the low budget of the project evident throughout.
To be fair, I only paid $5 for this film which is low for the sorts of running movies I have bought in the past. I’d happily pay more for a digital copy of a film that is both inspiring and well made. hell, I’ve paid three times that much for a film that might not have been perfect but which was well made. This effort, unfortunately, had me trying to justify spending even those few dollars to myself. A shame, really.
After getting through the film I Googled the protagonist of the piece and I was surprised to see what came up. For one, there is quite a bit of discussion in various corners of the internet about the actual 200 mile relay course depicted in the film, the time the runner raced it alone, and the strong suggestion that the runner didn’t actually complete the course at all.
I won’t go into the details of the claims and counter-claims regarding the feat presented in the video but seeing the debate around it did serve to sour the movie even more for me. I know it’s only $5 but the idea that I would be sending this on to someone who didn’t actually do what they claim in the film to be doing leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
So would I recommend the film? Frankly, no.
It’s cheaper than the average running films I buy but it’s not really worth the $5 I paid. Varying quality, a story that you never really buy into as anything more than one guy’s self centered journey to a finish line, and the discussion and debate about whether what you’re seeing is actually real serve to detract from the experience.
Never to worry, though: I still have a couple of days to replay Geoff Roes’ WSER win a couple more times and get pumped up for the Ultra Boucle!