WATCH: ‘A Long Way From Nowhere’ Gives a Glimpse into the Transcendent Power of Ultrarunning

A new documentary highlights the grit and guile of the Desert RATS Stage Race

Photo: Courtesy Desert RATS

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

A new ultrarunning documentary that dropped recently is bound to produce life-affirming chills and maybe life-changing inspiration.

A Long Way From Nowhere is an hour-long movie from The Audacious Report about the gritty runners and the community of the rigorous five-day, 150-mile Desert RATS Stage Race, held along the Kokopelli Trail from Fruita, Colorado, to Moab, Utah, in mid-June. (It’s from the same race producer of the Desert RATS Trail Running Festival by UTMB, but unaffiliated with the UTMB World Series.)

A small, disparate group of runners face triple-digit heat, lonely sections of desert trail, cold mountain rainstorms, and every other physical challenge you can imagine—dehydration, blisters, heat exposure, extreme fatigue—but find a way to persevere with mental toughness and a shared sense of purpose that instantly develops a sense of community among the participants. In the end, though some finished and some did not, they all seemed to have discovered as much about themselves as they have about each other.

“Suffering is a good thing. It makes you feel alive. It brings you to that center of who you are and what you’re capable of. If you don’t suffer, you’ll never know what you’re capable of,” says race director Reid Delman, who came up with the idea after his experiences competing in Eco-Challenge years ago. “Everybody gets stripped down bare. That’s where the change happens. When you get beaten down, those little things show their face.”

Filmmakers Paul Scheuring, Chris Ward, Josh Dragge, and James Adamson not only portrayed the wild conditions, acute suffering, and stunning scenery these runners encounter, but they also tell the deeper stories of several runners in detail.

Among the runners is an Iraq War veteran who’s battled PTSD and carries an American flag, a single parent of two young children who is finding his way in life as an unexpected widow, two sisters reconnecting for an adventure that affirms the connection forged in their youth, and a avid ultrarunner in his mid-40s who battles self-doubt but ultimately finds a way to believe in himself as the stages unfold.

Why would everyday runners want to challenge themselves in such a hard event? To experience life in the most vibrant way possible.

“When you’re a little kid, time seems to move so slow. It relates to new experiences and living in the moment. Because everything is new and fun when you’re young, and everything is a growing experience, you remember it better, and so it solidifies in your mind because it’s fresh,” says runner Sabrina White, who works as a Navy helicopter pilot. “As you get older, you start repeating the same shit over and over again, and you don’t really remember it anymore because it all kind of melds together. So having new experiences and doing new things is a way to bring out that child-like experience where you’re learning again, everything is fresh, and you experience time better. It expands.”

Want to Know What It Takes to Finish at Western States? Just Ask Hellah Sidibe.

Find out what happened when this six-year run streaker and HOKA Global Athlete Ambassador took on an iconic ultramarathon in California's Sierra Nevada