Imagine you’ve just arrived to one of the least habitable places on the planet. You have everything you need for the 7 day, 250km journey on your back. In order to make it, you’ll need to keep moving, keep racing towards the finish. But there isn’t only one, there are four. Four races you will complete in 1 calendar year in the driest, hottest, windiest places on earth. This is the beginning of a 1000 km journey, and you are about to do something incredible.
I might be a bit behind the times (film was released in 2013) but I recently had the pleasure of enjoying this unique look at what it takes and who runs, in some of the most demanding conditions in the world. Winning a host of awards, this documentary follows four individuals, a young woman and 3 middle-aged men, as they attempt to conquer one of the biggest challenges they will face in their lifetime, in the world of ultra running. Completing 4 races, each 250km in length taking place in 4 deserts, each with their own challenges and unique landscapes will award each finisher with the coveted “4 deserts grand slam” title. Prior to the making of this film, this challenge had only been completed by 2 others. Each runner vying for the desert grand slam will cross the Atacama desert in Chile (the driest non-polar desert on earth with a terrain comparable to Mars), the Gobi desert (with its furiously fluctuating temperatures), the Sahara desert and finally, the ‘Last Desert’ of Antarctica.
It is a fascinating depiction of what it takes to be a runner, the reasons we run, the obstacles we meet and overcome while running and how running changes us as individuals. If you are looking for something inspirational, a reminder of why you fell in love with the sport, or catalyst to spur yourself into overcoming a new challenge give this documentary a try. It highlights one of the most difficult endurance challenges in the world and the people who commit to them.
This 2013 documentary will bring you on a journey around the world, on the trip of a lifetime, through the highs and lows of extreme running and ultimately what it takes to be a runner. The characters are quirky and unforgettable, the scenery incredible and the journey humbling and thought-provoking.