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11 Inspiring Short Films About Trail Running

By Emily Banks

Just as the trail-running community has grown over the last few years, so too has the trail-running film scene. From footage of ultrarunning legends like Kilian Jornet and Darcy Piceu at the grueling Hardrock 100 to a moving video profile that captures the twinkle in the eye of Leadville “superfan” Bill Dooper, here are some of our favorite videos recent videos about trail running. Be prepared—most of these short films are hugely inspiring, and it might be hard to resist trail running after watching just one or two.

1. The view from Hardrock’s highest aid station

Film by: Salomon Running TV/The African Attachment

At 13,100 feet, Kroger’s Canteen at the Hardrock 100 is a unique spectacle. Captained by 10-time Hardrock finisher Roch Horton, the aid station, housed on a tiny ledge, is famous for its tradition of mid-race tequila shots and volunteer waitlist.

This short video offers a glimpse into what it’s like at this incredible spot through interviews with Horton, longtime mountain runner Rick Trujillo and two-time Hardrock champ Kilian Jornet.

2. Spirit runner

Film by: Heist

Ronnie Goodman is a recovering addict, convicted felon and runner who lives on the streets of San Francisco. Several years ago, Goodman began running as a way to escape from his difficult circumstances and be present within himself. He now runs anywhere from 5 to 15 miles a day. He has several half-marathons and marathons already under his belt.

“When people see me, they just see a runner,” Goodman explains. “They don’t look at me as a person that is homeless.” This video follows Goodman as he jogs through San Francisco and discusses how running has shaped and changed his life for the better.

3. Getting extreme in the mountains

Film by: Clif Bar

Dakota Jones—a young elite ultrarunner who broke into the scene at age 18—has been making waves in the trail running community, with two Hardrock podium finishes already under his belt. And he’s only 24.

“I don’t know if I’m the most gifted athlete physically,” Jones says in this video. “But I can suffer, and that’s like my strength.”

In order to take his career to the next level, Jones has been combining his trail-running skills with his passion for climbing, tackling the world’s most difficult peaks as efficiently as he can. This short film captures Jones as he scrambles up rock and slips around on the snowfields of Mount Rainier. Meanwhile, he discusses how his relationship to trail running has evolved as trail running as a sport similarly evolves into something wilder and more extreme.

4. A runner’s dream, realized

Film by: Billy Yang Films

After years of feeling unfulfilled at his job in the tech industry, Brett Rivers decided it was time for a change. A long-time runner, River wanted to find a way to combine his skills in business with his love for trail running. Although the Bay Area is home to a large, engaged trail-running community, Rivers saw that there was no local store devoted to trail running and resolved to open his own. He eventually founded the San Francisco Running Company, which has since flourished.

In this short film, Rivers talks about turning one’s passion into a career, and how to juggle the many responsibilities that come with that.

5.100 Miles High”

Film by: Fredrik Marmsater Photography & Louder Than Eleven

Darcy Piceu is one of the most competitive trail runners out there, having run nearly 50 ultras over the past eight years and nabbed a collection of podium finishes. Perhaps more than any other race, she’s become associated with the Hardrock 100, which she won in 2012. This film documents her efforts to repeat that victory in 2013. (She won that year, and again in 2014.)

6. A day in the life of Anton Krupicka

Film by: Billy Yang Films

In this video, Anton Krupicka, an ultrarunner known for his long, grizzly hair and minimalist outlook on running (and life), discusses his rise from an eleven-year-old with a “micro amount of talent” for running to a trail celebrity. Now with a plethora of podium finishes, two Leadville 100 wins and a second-place showing at Western States under his belt, Krupicka talks about the difficulty of finding balance in a lifestyle that prioritizes running and time in the mountains over everything else. This year, a stress fracture in his tibia put Krupicka out of the running game, testing his patience and affecting his relationship to the sport.

7. “The Ultimate Fan”

Film by: Salomon Running TV/The African Attachment

“Everybody in Colorado knows Bill Dooper,” says ultrarunner Dakota Jones cheerfully at the beginning of this film. Every trail runner in Colorado, at least. Although he has never run an ultra himself, Bill Dooper, a 79-year-old resident of Leadville, Colorado, has attended every Leadville Trail 100 since 1988, and every Hardrock 100 since it was founded in 1992.

Runners know him as an enthusiastic, kind and genuine man who brings his positive spirit wherever he goes. To show their gratitude, in 2014, a group of runners put together a donation page to help fund a surprise trip for Dooper to attend the Western States 100 in California. This video tells Bill’s story.

8. From dead last to fast first

Film by: Salomon Running TV/The African Attachment

Stevie Kremer of Crested Butte, Colorado, always knew she wanted to be a teacher, but she had no idea she would be an trail runner. When Kremer ran her first trail race—a local 11-miler—she came in last. Eight years later, she’s a competitive mountain runner with podium finishes on the international circuit, trying to balance her life as a second-grade school teacher with an intense training and racing schedule. This video follows Kremer into the mountains around Crested Butte and interviews her about how she’s grown into a top trail runner—thanks, in part, to support from her community.

9. “Trail Fighter”

Film by: T.C. Worley

Kyle Dietz of Davenport, Iowa, is a former professional mixed-martial-arts fighter who has turned into an ambitious mountain runner. After quitting MMA, Dietz sought something to fill the space, and quickly found endurance sports. When a friend took him trail running through the nearby hills, Dietz was hooked, and now has his sights set on training to become a competitive mountain runner. In this video, Dietz discusses his journey from MMA to trail running and where he seems himself going in the years to come.

10. The birthplace of British mountain running

Film by: Salomon Running TV/The African Attachment

In this video, Rickey Gates— a contributing editor with Trail Runner—travels to Great Britain to explore the trail-running bounty of the Lake District.  Despite having roots over a century old, the fell-running community there has largely escaped commercialization, and many of its members run without a desire to prove anything to anyone other than themselves. This film follows Gates as he explores the area with British fell runners and gets to know the local trail-running culture.

11. “Nolan’s 14”

Film by: Ben Clark

Ultrarunner Ben Clark discusses the infamous Nolan’s 14, a grueling 100-mile challenge that links 14 14,000-foot summits in the Sawatch Range of Colorado, with 44,000 feet of vertical and a 60-hour cutoff. Only a handful of people have ever managed to complete the route. With several attempts under his belt, Clark talks to other past Nolan’s runners about their motivations and the route’s history. (This trailer for the film is plenty inspiring on its own; you can also rent the full film through Vimeo on Demand.)