New Film Follows Western States Runners

| May 23, 2014 | 0 Comments

An attempt to complete the Western States 100 ultramarathon

By Kristin Close

The Western States 100 Mile Endurance run started with one runner in 1974. It was then a horse race, called the Tevis Cup. Gordy Ainsleigh attempted to run it on foot. After finishing in 23 hours and 42 minutes, he became the first finisher and the race grew from there.

The Western States is the oldest 100 mile trail race. In total, runners climb/crawl more than 18,000 feet and descend 23,000 before they reach the finish line in Auburn, California. There are about 350 people who participate in it annually (the number of applications always exceeds the number who can be accepted), and most have to go through a lottery system to run it. All the runners’ names are put into a hat and drawn at random by members of the audience at a public lottery held each fall at Auburn’s Placer High School.

Andy Hofman, a Santa Cruz filmmaker, discovered a project that would become his film Solstice when he found out longtime friend Ashley Lindsey won the lottery.

“Just the thought of her running 100 miles, from Squaw Valley to Auburn, through the backcountry, just seemed so gnarly and impossible that I felt I had to make something to document her experience,” says Hofman.

A 100 mile race might seem daunting to most, and yet Lindsey, a mother of two, finished it.

“I tried to take a slightly different angle than most documentaries on the race, in an attempt to show the experience of what the runners go through as much as possible,” explained Hofman of his film. “It’s all about trying to complete something that would seem impossible to most of us.”

Hofman and two other crew members woke up at 2 a.m. on race day to film the entire experience.

Lindsey dealt with typical rookie runner mistakes – emotional and physical highs and lows like most Western States Runners do.

The visual possibilities intrigued Hofman, as well. From the beautiful scenery to the changes in environment, from crossing ice-cold water to running down a canyon in the afternoon, he was given an opportunity to create something unique.

Hofman hopes people will see this film and follow Lindsey through the remote trails of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He hopes to submit the documentary in a variety of film festivals, including the Canada’s popular Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Solstice will play locally at Alpenglow Sports in Tahoe City on Wednesday, June 25th. (Time TBD).

If you would like to support the runners, this year’s Western’s States Run will take place on Saturday, June 28. It begins in the Village at Squaw Valley.

Kristin Close is currently a senior at the University of Nevada, Reno, working towards a bachelor of arts degree in journalism and a minor in Spanish. She’s had articles published in The Nevada Sagebrush and Aphrodite Fitness Magazine. Studied abroad in Costa Rica (2013) and Spain (2014).

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Category: Arts & Culture, Outdoors, Uncategorized, Visual Arts

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