The Ulti­mate Ultra Run­ning Movies

Writ­ten By Sam Heward

Sam is one of the Ultra X Co-Founders. If he’s not actu­ally out run­ning, chances are he’s busy writ­ing about it (or plot­ting Ultra X strategy!)

20 March 2020

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Read­ing Time: 6 minutes

There’s a long and var­ied list of films that can provide deep­er under­stand­ing and enjoy­ment of the sport of trail run­ning and ultra mara­thons. Wheth­er it’s giv­ing an insight into the train­ing regimes of some of the best ath­letes of the sport, a broad­er pic­ture of the stun­ning and chal­len­ging routes which so many ultra mara­thons take place on, or a look into some of the men­tal aspects of the sport. As much as we love For­rest Gump, this list focuses on our favour­ites in the trail/ultra run­ning space.

Con­sider this your go-to binge-watch list for when you are recov­er­ing with your feet up after a hard ses­sion, taper­ing before a race, run­ning on the tread­mill, or seek­ing motiv­a­tion as you con­sider your next big chal­lenge. As we’ll all be spend­ing a lot more time inside over the com­ing weeks due to the Coronavir­us pan­dem­ic, hope­fully these can keep you enter­tained.

Enjoy.

Ultra X Sri Lanka 2019

The race video from the inaug­ur­al Ultra X Sri Lanka. In April 2019, 50 ath­letes and adven­tur­ers from around the world traveled to the island for 5 days of run­ning through rain­forest and coun­tryside. A mini-heat­wave in Sri Lanka meant there was an added chal­lenge and the humid­ity was bru­tal at times, but for all who were there it was an unfor­get­table week.

Where Dreams Go To Die

Gary Rob­bins star­ted twice at the Barkley Mara­thons. Twice he failed in the fifth and final lap. This film doc­u­ments his pre­par­a­tion and race(s), but also the spir­it, hope and tragedy at this remote but icon­ic race.

Unbreak­able: The West­ern States 100

In 2010, four of the greatest undefeated moun­tain run­ners on earth toed the start­ing line at the West­ern States 100-mile endur­ance run, the old­est and most pres­ti­gi­ous 100-mile foot race in the world. A win will require break­ing the course record and run­ning the fast­est time in the his­tory of the race.

An epic show­down ensues, from Squaw Val­ley, CA in Lake Tahoe, up though the high snow-covered Sierra Nevada Moun­tains, down through the extreme heat of the Amer­ic­an River Canyons and fin­ish­ing in Auburn, CA. You’ll have to pay for Unbreak­able, but it’s worth it.

The Barkley Mara­thons: The Race That Eats Its Young

Per­haps the most fam­ous ultra run­ning doc­u­ment­ary (also avail­able on Net­flix). This video doc­u­ments the race, but even more the people around it: race organ­iser Gary Cantrell (aka Laz­arus Lake — who will be attend­ing the Ultra X Sum­mit this sum­mer as our head­line speak­er) and the crazy story sur­round­ing this event.

Ultra X Mex­ico 2019

In Novem­ber 2019, a group of run­ners headed to the Mex­ic­an state of Chi­hua­hua to race in the inaug­ur­al Ultra X Mex­ico. This 250km, 5 day ultra mara­thon took run­ners from the magic town of Creel to the magic town of Batopilas, deep in the Cop­per Canyons.

It was an incred­ibly spe­cial event, set on the same trails as the fam­ous Caballo Blanco race fea­tured in the book “Born to Run” and did not fol­low the script many were expect­ing…

Sum­mits of My Life — Kili­an Jor­net

Sum­mits of My Life is the per­son­al pro­ject of Kili­an Jor­net, in which for five years he traveled to some of the most import­ant peaks of the plan­et to try to estab­lish an FKT (fast­est known time) of ascent and des­cent of some of the most emblem­at­ic moun­tains of the world. Kil­lian has made the series free for one week to give people stuck at home due to the Coronavir­us some­thing to keep them enter­tained.

Big Dog’s Back­yard Ultra: The Last Man Stand­ing

Anoth­er event organ­ised by Laz Lake. Big Dog’s Back­yard is simple in concept, but undoubtedly one of the most men­tally and stra­tegic­ally com­plex races in the world. The par­ti­cipants run a 4.1 mile loop every hour, day or night, non-stop. The last man or woman stand­ing is crowned the vic­tor…

The Source

The Source is a doc­u­ment­ary film that explores ultrar­unning legend Court­ney Dauwalter’s incred­ible source of will. How does this nor­mal (on the out­side), sweetie-lov­ing, beer-drink­ing ath­lete, go about racing for hours and some­times days on end in 200+ mile races, beat­ing men and women alike? The film gives view­ers a front row seat and lends awe­some insight as Court­ney races the Tahoe 200.

Life In A Day

The great Ann Tra­son com­pared run­ning 100 miles to liv­ing Life in a Day. This film fol­lows the jour­ney of four female run­ners at the West­ern States Endur­ance Run 2016 and suc­cinctly illus­trates the ups and downs of ultra run­ning.

Found On 49: The Story of Jim Walms­ley

Jim Walms­ley is one of the greatest ultra run­ners on the plan­et at the moment. Hav­ing crushed the West­ern States course record in 2019, he has set his goals high for 2019 with Com­rades and UTMB, two of the biggest ultra mara­thons on the plan­et (both take place with­in 2 months of each oth­er).

This film tells the story of Jim’s first 100 miler at the 2016 West­ern States 100 mile endur­ance run, fol­low­ing him a few weeks out from race day through his his­tor­ic day ahead of course record splits and the dra­mat­ic con­clu­sion…

Karl Meltzer: Made To Be Broken

Thou­sands of people attempt an Appalachi­an Trail thru-hike every year, yet only one in four hikers fin­ish the jour­ney, and they typ­ic­ally take five to sev­en months to com­plete it…

Ultrar­unner Karl Meltzer has dreamed of set­ting the speed record for cross­ing it his entire life. This tale tells the story of his third and final attempt to run the 2,189 miles (3,523km) in less than 46 days, 8 hours, 6 min.

See what hap­pens in Made To Be Broken..

Ultramara­thon Man: 50 Mara­thons, 50 States, 50 Days

Dean Karnazes is argu­ably the most fam­ous ultramara­thon­er in the his­tory of the sport. This doc­u­ment­ary chron­icles the feat that put him on the map and brought the idea of ultrar­unning to the atten­tion of the mass pub­lic.

Yet, this doc­u­ment­ary is more than just Karnazes’ jour­ney. Every­day run­ners join him in dif­fer­ent cit­ies as he makes his tour of the nation, and you get a real sense of what run­ning means to every­one fea­tured.

Watch Ultramara­thon Man.

Breaking2

Ok, so this isn’t trail run­ning, but we love it any­way! Nike’s epic first attempt at break­ing the two hour mara­thon, focus­ing on the behind the scenes build up.

Watch Breaking2.

Tom Evans: Zero To 100

A brand new release that takes a deep­er look into the biggest day of Brit­ish ultra run­ning rising star Tom Evans’ career to date — the West­ern States 100. Hav­ing thrown him­self into the deep end of ultra run­ning and tri­umph­ing at his first attempt with an epic podi­um at the Mara­thon des Sables in 2017, he has been mov­ing swiftly up the ranks, win­ning respect wherever he races.

How­ever, this is a field stacked with the the world’s best ultra run­ners. Tom had only just left the Army a few weeks pri­or to the race, so it was his biggest test yet…

Think there are any we’ve missed?! Send them over to contact@ultra-x.coWe’re also self isol­at­ing at Ultra X HQ, so would appre­ci­ate your con­tent!

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