Top 10 Must Watch Ultra Marathon Documentaries

Kit O Callaghan Ultra X

Written By kit o'callaghan

Kit is a recent Broadcast Journalism graduate and our newest placement student. An outdoor enthusiast, he gets stuck in to all things sports media; most recently covering mountaineering, American football, and ultra running.

18 March 2024


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Reading Time: 6 minutes

A good ultramarathon film can provide the final bit of motivation you need to take your first leap into life past the 26-mile marker. They provide inspiration, advice, and show the true reality of what it takes to run an ultra. Or if you’re anything like me, a film nerd who spends more time watching running than doing it, these films also provide endless entertainment.

Ultra X Jordan 2023 – Full Race Documentary

This film shows the epic adventure that is Ultra X Jordan. Taking place in the mythical Wadi Rum, this is the race that started the Ultra X brand – now a global ultramarathon series. The 2023 edition of this race was particularly special, with a slight change to the course from previous years on the 5th and final day that led to some of the best desertscapes you will ever see. The best part about this film (and race) is the diverse mix of people who complete it; from professional ultrarunners to those who have never run further than a 10km before signing up to this insane 5 day, 220km desert adventure.

Produced by: Ultra X / Ben Kent

Released: November 23rd, 2023

Where Dreams Go To Die

A film based around the Barkley Marathons – Where Dreams Go to Die tells the story of legendary Canadian ultrarunner Gary Robbins who twice started the Barkley Marathons, and twice failed in the fifth and final lap. This film documents his preparation and race(s), but also the spirit, hope and tragedy that befalls those who attempt the (near) impossible.

Produced by: Ethan Newberry

Released: May 31st, 2018

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

A race that holds legendary status and has been completed just 21 times by 17 different runners in 37 years. This documentary, which featured on Netflix and Prime Video, tells the story of the 2014 race, offering a fascinating insight into the quirks and dark humour of this brutal, unmarked trail race thought by many to be the toughest in the World.

Produced by: Annika Iltis, Timothy James Kane

Released: 26 October 2014

Moab 240 Documentary | Mind Over Miles

This 34-minute documentary gives a personal insight into the world of ultrarunning with one of the best in the game, Sally McRae. The film follows her attempt at completing the brutal Moab 240 (mile) race, the last of her Grand Slam of 200’s. This film captures the culmination of a year’s worth of racing and a lifetime of training. There’re tears, blisters, vomit, snow, high winds, and a whole load of grit and determination as Sally puts her body through the extreme. Sally crosses the line in 1st place, winning the Triple crown of 200’s, and completing the Grand Slam, the only woman to claim this title in 2023, and in the fastest total time of all time. This is about as real as it gets.

Produced by: Drew B Darby and Tyler McCain

Released: December 30th, 2023

Surviving The World’s Deadliest Race in Antarctica | Project Iceman Film

Okay so not really an ‘ultramarathon’ film but a long-distance triathlon film. This 2hour behemoth of a movie by YouTubers Yes Theory follows the journey of Anders Hofman as he attempts to complete the first ever long-distance triathlon (2.4-mile swim, a 112-mile bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22- mile run) on the continent of Antarctica. The YouTube channel, which has 8.7million subscribers, crowdfunded to create the film, and what we’re left with is a cinema quality epic that would make even the most unenthusiastic sportspeople get off their couch and head to the gym. Infact, Yes Theory did take the film to the big screen, and 6,500+ people attended sold-out premieres in 12 cities on 4 different continents. The film has won multiple awards and achieved nearly 2million YouTube hits in its first 2 months post-release.

Produced by: Yes Theory & Anders Hofman

Released: December 20th, 2023

LIFE IN A DAY | The Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run

One of many brilliant films by Billy Yang, this follows the journeys of four incredible women as they battle for the top spots at the 2016 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Race. Packed with drama and emotion, this is thrilling throughout the entire 1-hour watch time.

Produced by: Billy Yang

Released: Mar 9, 2017

Badwater 135: A documentary

This is a real human story. It follows Peloton instructor Susie Chan, who’s every bit as human as the rest of us…or so it seems. Not a professional ultrarunner by trade, Susie speaks openly about the challenges of taking on an event of this magnitude at the age of 49. If you needed any scale to measure the size of her achievement, less people have completed the Badwater 135 (135miles non-stop from Death Valley to Mt. Whitney, California) than have climbed Everest. By completing the 3 Badwater races in 2023, Susie became the first non-US resident to complete the Badwater Ultra Cup.

Produced by: Peloton

Released: January 24th, 2024

ONE MILE OUT | Official Documentary

ONE MILE OUT follows Chadd Wright’s journey running 250 miles through Northern Arizona in the 2023 Cocodona 250. This is a massively inspirational film, with powerful dialogue and great visual storytelling. It’ll definitely get you fired up for your next challenge, whatever that may be!

Produced by: Macademic Media

Released: July 2nd, 2023

For Rangers Ultra | An Ultramarathon Documentary

A beautiful piece by Beyond The Ultimate, showcasing the very best of Africa. This 25-minute documentary is both a race film and a call to help for park rangers whose selfless commitment to protecting the African wildlife is so often overlooked. The first few minutes are focused on telling the story of the park rangers before we start to meet the organising team and runners and find out why they’ve signed up to this epic 230km adventure. The film mixes beautiful cinematography with epic music, perfectly implemented sound effects, drone shots, and emotive tales of a community coming together to raise vital finds for Save the Rhinos and For Rangers charities. This one definitely pulls at the heartstrings and is a great tribute a race which kindly donates all profits towards the aforementioned charities.

Produced by: Beyond The Ultimate – Ryan Lovejoy/Outpost 9

Released: November 19th, 2020

Ultra X Tanzania 2023 – Full Race Film

Another epic film by Ultra X – This shows their first ever race in Africa, Ultra X Tanzania. Similarly, to Ultra X Jordan, this was a 5 day, 220km race, but this one took competitors halfway up the iconic Mount Kilimanjaro. Runners encountered jungle, savannah, wildlife, all whilst being cheered on by local villages and their fellow runners. This race creates an intimate connection between competitors, and the film captures this beautifully, with stunning landscapes and cinematography.

Produced by: Ultra X / Fred Voigt

Released: August 9th, 2023


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