The Toughest Race You've Ever Heard Of - Page 4
Despite a meager budget, Warger plunged ahead. He was determined, and he had an elevator speech that intrigued people. The story of the Mount Baker Marathon was truly stranger than fiction, Warger told anyone that would listen, and had all the elements of a great movie: death-defying adventure, political intrigue, heroism and tragedy. Set in a volatile time in the history of the Great Northwest, the race was run during a period when the frontier days were passing into memory and a new age was dawning; an age of machines and encroaching civilization.
Work on The Mountain Runners began.
Help poured in from all directions. Brian Young, a veteran director and owner of Jet City Films, was enlisted as co-director/producer. He immediately caught Warger’s evangelical zeal.
Says Young, “Men pushing their limits—not only to compete, but to survive—in a race that was the first of its kind—you just don’t come across a story like that every day. I couldn’t pass it up!”
William B. Davis, who lived across the border in Vancouver, British Columbia, and the “smoking man” from the 1990s-era TV show, The X-Files, was cast as Mount Baker Club president Henry Engberg, who had insisted that the race carry on despite the perilous conditions.
Climber and guide Jason Martin, Director of Field Operations for the American Alpine Institute (AAI), was cast as Victor Galbraith. Some of his scenes were filmed in an actual crevasse on the mountain.
Ultrarunners Scott Jurek, Krissy Moehl, Cami Ostman and Doug McKeever all signed on, as did climbers Steve House and Chad Kellogg. Jurek, one of the United States’ most well-known ultrarunners, is a seven-time winner of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run. Moehl holds the women’s record on the 103-mile Ultra-Trail du Mount-Blanc. Ostman is the celebrated author of Second Wind: Seven Marathons on Seven Continents and McKeever, a Northwest-based ultrarunner, had summited Mount Baker ... 68 times!
Among the climbers, Steve House has established himself as one of the world’s greatest alpine climbers, famous in the mountaineering community for his solo ascent of K7 in 2004. Kellogg is a legend in the Pacific Northwest, holding speed records for Mount McKinley and Mount Rainier, among many other iconic peaks.
“When Todd approached me about the project I felt immediately connected with the story,” says Moehl. “This amazing event took place right in my backyard, where I grew up. The more I learned about it, the more engaged I became.”
Last spring, after two years, Warger and Young finsihed the production. Narration was added by Kevin Tighe, a veteran of TV’s Law and Order and films such as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? and Another 48 Hours.
A soundtrack was recorded by Pretty Little Feet, an old-time fiddle and two-part harmony musical duo.
The Mountain Runners premiered in Bellingham in May and then in front of sold-out houses at cities around the Puget Sound. In addition to the Vancouver International Film Festival, Warger hopes to take it to Banff and Chamonix. PBS has also expressed interest.
For more info about The Mountain Runners, visit www.themountainrunners.com. The film was just accepted into the 24th International Mountain & Adventure Film Festival in Graz, Austria, where it has been nominated for both the Grand Prix Graz 2012 and Alpine Camera in Gold awards.