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This year, there was no shortage of inspiring moments in trail running. From suspenseful, jaw-dropping race performances to FKT attempts to plain old, epic adventures, 2016 has left us with a long list of stories to tell and re-tell. Luckily, some of the industries top filmmakers were there to record the magic. The result is an impressive list of trail-running videos capturing some of the best moments in our sport over the last year.
The following 10 videos were the most popular (by number of page views) to be posted on trailrunnermag.com over the course of the past year.
For more videos, click here.
1. Zach Miller grits through the final two miles of the 2016 North Face Endurance Challenge 50-miler in San Francisco
The North Face 50-miler, which took place over the weekend, is regularly one of the country’s most competitive ultras. In this year’s race, Zach Miller and Hayden Hawkes battled it out at the front, with Miller eventually edging out Hawkes by a mere two minutes.
Miller is known for pushing hard from start to finish. This video by Run Steep Get High provides an up-close-and-personal look at Miller’s racing style by following him for the final two minutes to the finish.
2. The Americans who took UTMB and CCC by storm
The Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, a roughly 105-mile race around the Alps’ highest peak, and its sister races have been famously difficult for American men; only a handful have finished on the podium in the 12-year history of UTMB.
Which is why it was such big news when, in August 2015, David Laney placed third at UTMB, and Zach Miller and Tim Tollefson finished first and second, respectively, at the 101K Courmayeur-Champex-Chamonix.
This new documentary, by Billy Yang, follows the three Americans (all teammates for Nike Trail Elite) as they prepare for and race these ultra-competitive events. Along with the highs and lows of racing (and the stunning mountain scenery), the film provides a window into the dedication and motivation of these three up-and-coming athletes.
3. An epic run/scramble up Ben Nevis, the U.K.’s highest peak
Ben Nevis, at 4,414 feet in western Scotland, is the highest peak in the United Kingdom. This video, by Rare Breed Productions, has some incredible aerial footage of runner Michael Tweedly running on trails and scrambling up a ridgeline to reach the top.
4. Joe Gray bombs downhill at the Barr Mountain Trail Race
The Barr Trail Mountain Race is a 12.6-mile out-and-back that climbs more than 3,500 feet to Barr Camp at 10,200 feet on Colorado’s Pikes Peak. At this year’s race, Mark Tatum of MUTWiLD followed the the frontrunners during part of the descent.
The resulting footage shows one of the country’s top mountain-running talents doing what he does best (and blowing past startled racers still hiking uphill). Here’s eventual winner Joe Gray, looking like he’s out for a casual jog.
5. Jim Walmsley flies through the Grand Canyon on his way to setting a new fastest known time for the rim-to-rim-to-rim
On October 4 Jim Walmsley set a new record for the double crossing of the Grand Canyon (also known as Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim, or R2R2R), besting Rob Krar’s 2013 record by an astounding 26-and-a-half minutes.
This video, by Run Steep Get High, picks up at the North Rim, the halfway point. (Walmsley also set a record for the Canyon’s single crossing.) It then follows him during the long descent back into in the Canyon, which he makes look maddeningly easy.
6. Anton Krupicka and Stephen Griebel complete a fastest known time on the Longs Peak Triathlon
In the 1970s, Boulder-based athletes created a challenge called the Longs Peak Triathlon. It entails biking 38 miles from Boulder to the Longs Peak Trailhead in Rocky Mountain National Park, running several miles to the base of “The Diamond” (the diamond-shaped east face of Longs), climbing to the 14,259-foot summit of the peak via the “Casual Route” (rated 5.10a) and then reversing the trip back to Boulder.
In this video, released by La Sportiva, mountain athletes Anton Krupicka and Stefan Griebel combine cycling, trail running and rock climbing from the city streets of Boulder to the top of the iconic 14er, setting a new fastest known time along the way.
7. A video portrait of Jim Walmsley, one of trail running’s hottest new stars
Jim Walmsley, 26, has burst onto the ultrarunning scene this year, with a big win at the competitive Lake Sonoma 50, a near-course record at the Western States 100 (before an epic mishap at mile 93) and, most recently, a blazing new fastest known time on the Grand Canyon’s Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim route.
In this video, produced by Colorado Running Ranch and TRUE MVMNT, Walmsley reflects on where he’s at in his athletic career, while running beautiful mountain trails.
8. Sky racing in Romania
The Retezat SkyRace Intersport is a 28K race among the high peaks of southwestern Romania. This mesmerizing video highlights the race’s incredible, high-alpine views, as well as the course’s steep climbs and rocky, off-trail ridge traverses.
9. Downhill trail running in Iceland
Every trail runner knows that running downhill is pretty much the point of running in the mountains. This video, released by Salomon Running TV, portrays the fun (and, sometimes, the challenge) of careening downhill, by following trail runners Ricky Lightfoot and Tom Owens as they explore Iceland’s many, many steep descents.
10. Mystery dropbag challenge: race director Jamil Coury, determined not to waste eight unclaimed drop bags.
After the Black Canyon 100K, eight dropbags sat unclaimed for three months. So race director Jamil Coury, and another runner, Schuyler Hall, came up with an unconventional, comically ill-advised challenge.
They would run four one-mile loops. Before every loop, each runner would be given a leftover drop bag, contents unknown, and would be required to use everything in it.
That means everything—however ill-fitting, unnecessary or simply disgusting. As Coury explains in the video: “If it’s an edible product, we have to consume it. If it’s an item of clothing, we have to wear it. If it’s a personal body product—say Body Glide or sunscreen—we have to apply it. Anything else, we have to carry it.”
V8, Hot Tamales candies, instant coffee, a purple cotton sweatshirt, diaper-rash powder, melted energy chews, previously worn running tights, “mystery white powder”—it’s safe to say their worst expectations were met, and then some.
And the resulting video is pretty darn hilarious.