It was quite the year when it came to everything outdoor, adventure, extreme, trail running, climbing, hiking and ultra-marathons. It also delivered some golden footage.
Here are five of the best from the past 12 months to watch over the holiday season if you’re looking for motivation to go run off that Christmas dinner.
The Redeemed and the Dominant: Fittest on Earth
In five years, whether you like it or not, CrossFit is going to be huge. The sport’s growth appears unstoppable, and one of the reasons is the governing bodies two latest documentaries on the CrossFit Games. Following in the footsteps of Fittest on Earth, this movie, which showcases the lead up and actual 2017 competition, is as slick as slick gets. Amazing visuals and up close and personal vantage points into these athletes’ mind-boggling lives and training regimes. Watching people suffer has never been this fun.
Alex Honnold is either incredibly brave, or reckless, or a combination of the two. Regardless, his untethered climb of the face of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park is nothing short of legendary. The fact that award-winning documentary filmmaker E. Chai Vasarhelyi and photographer/mountaineer Jimmy Chin were given exclusive access to film Honnold’s lead up and actual climb is even more remarkable. Required viewing for anyone who loves a real-life nail-biter, and those with a fear of heights as well.
The Dawn Wall
Not to be outdone by Honnold, Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson tackled the Dawn Wall with ropes in Yosemite back in 2015. But this documentary is more about Caldwell’s extraordinary life, which includes losing an index finger in an accident and being taken hostage by rebels in Kyrgyzstan. The group spent six years working on this challenge, and the footage is compelling, beautiful and at times, heartbreaking. If you’ve ever wanted to know what moulds an extreme athlete into who they are, this is the one for you.
The Year The Barkley Won
While The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young and Where Dreams Go To Die are much more famous about the oddly perplexing and equally taxing Barkley Marathon, The Year The Barkley Won has its own unique appeal. This year, nobody finished it, and if you want a first-hand look at someone failing, check out racer Jamil Coury’s 26-minute film. You feel like you’re hiking, and failing, right alongside him, if that sounds appealing.
Last but not least, if you’re looking for something a bit more close to home, check out Breaking 60, which chronicles four racers taking on the Hong Kong Four Trails Ultra Challenge. In total it is about 298 kilometres and filmmaker Robin Lee was right there to deliver some stunning footage and spectacular backdrops to boot. Lee also put together the short film Is This Fun?, which looks at two runners taking on the 9 Dragons. Both offer glimpses into the minds of the elite, and what it takes to endure and conquer feats only a few would even fathom attempting.