Sunday, November 8, 2009

REVIEW: Running on the Sun

Got myself another Netflix movie on running, and this week it is the 2000 documentary, Running on the Sun. This 90-ish minute film introduces viewers to the Badwater Ultramarathon, and specifically the racers from the 1999 running. If you have never heard of Badwater, it is easily one of (perhaps the #1) hardest ultra on Earth. 135 miles from Badwater, the lowest elevation in the Western hemisphere, halfway up Mount Whitney, an elevation of about 8000 feet.

As with many other running movies, especially the documentaries about actual races, the final results are fairly predictable. I was not sure about the final outcomes beforehand (which are obviously online for anyone who wants spoilers) but it was not hard to guess how things would turn out.

Content was fine, but I did not enjoy the music, animations, or production of the film very much. I have no idea what the budget was, for all I know, this could have been a promotional film, but it felt to me like a pretty low-budget and limited quality production.

It is certainly not for the squeamish, with up-close and personal shots of the tragic toll this race takes on people's feet, and a few blisters being popped and drained. There is a little bit of foul language as some of the racers get extra cranky from lack of soup.

The racers/characters are diverse as any other film about running, which always strikes me as quite interesting. A shop owner, a delivery guy from NYC, a driver for Lloyd's of London, a couple of amputees, a Marine, and so on. They all respond to the trials and struggles of the race in their own ways, and that part of the film is it's highlight, in my opinion.

Overall, an interesting flick, especially if you want a peek into the odd world of ultras. I am sticking with Spirit of the Marathon as the top running docu this far, but should have another review next week.

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