Get inspired with the Ultimate Trail Running Movies

It’s the final countdown (dun, nah, nah, naaaah) to your Tarawera run.

If you are anything like me you are currently in a mild panic on how to cram mileage in (but not too much), make sure you are doing the vert and technical bits and pieces, trying to be a good family member (it is the holidays!), eat and drink well but not too excessively (beer is carb loading right?) and desperately not get injured or do anything too stupid in these last precious weeks.

So what do you do to keep the motivation bubbling just beneath the surface? How do you turn up on the morning amped and ready to go?

We have compiled what we think is the killer list of trail running movies out there. There are HEAPS of movies so we’ve done the hard yards and distilled these down to the essential few to run through, especially when you get home from work having already been out at 6am that day to get the run in and life seems, well, pretty overwhelming. Fire up one of these and get that mind game strong again:


Unbreakable: The Western States 100

Directed by J.B. Benna

You can’t go wrong with the story of what is arguably the world’s most legendary footrace. Watch the 2010 edition of the Western States Endurance Run, featuring an epic showdown of some of the world’s greatest athletes: Anton Krupicka, Kilian Jornet, Geoff Roes and Hal Koerner.


Just Keep Running

Directed by Aaron Smart

A cracking documentary following Ruby Muir, a legendary race winner at Tarawera. Deeply personal and unflinching this movie will certainly break down what you think of elites and get you close to one of the true talents of Kiwi running.


Why I Run

Directed, filmed by and starring Alastair Humphreys

Alastair is an English adventurer and the author of a couple of wonderful books about getting outdoors on adventures. In this mini movie he gets giddy about running. Takes 2 minutes to watch and you’ll be inspired to head for that hill run immediately.


Billy Yang

Not a single movie but a kick ass collection of running films from one of the best directors working in trail running in my opinion. I was going to wax lyrical about this own personal Western States experience in From Squaw to Auburn (on YouTube) which is an excellent exposition of what we all go through in an ultra. Or talk about his well known Life in a Day but then I started thinking about wanting to cover his movie The One Thing which i have personally watched about 20 times – it is so,so inspiring. So yep…there is such a depth of goodness, so many great movies check out the link on Vimeo and enjoy Billy’s work.


A Decade On

The Ginger Runner

Following the fortunes of Brian Morrison at the Western States this is another inspiring movie for us runners. Brian returns to Squaw to take on the race he was disqualified from when he was assisted close to collapse in the final couple of hundred meters. The race haunts him and this is his attempt to overcome the odds 10 years later. Also a great movie for any Pearl Jam or Death Cab for Cutie fans!


The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

Directed and Produced by Annika Iltis and Timothy Kane

Available on Netflix

Charting the race progress of a group of runners gets you inside the madness and exhaustion of attempting the gnarliest and most enigmatic races in the world, the Barkley Marathons. This documentary takes you inside the race and also captures the cheeky maverick spirit of race organiser Lazarus Lake. It’ll challenge your limits of what you thought possible and maybe even make you consider bigger goals.


Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco

Directed by Sterling Noren

Chris McDougall’s Born to Run is one of the world’s best running books and responsible for introducing the world to the running legend that is the late Caballo Blanco, AKA Micah True. This documentary follows Caballo and his passionate support for the Tarahumara tribes in their annual race. A moving captivating documentary about one of the most curious characters living true to himself before his untimely death.


Fifty – The Movie

Directed by John-Jo Ritson

Mal Law’s biggest feat (to date) – climbing 50 mountains around New Zealand, running 50 marathons in 50 days – is the subject of this unmissable documentary that captures the raw essence of what goes through the mind of the weary runner pushing himself to his physical (and emotional) limits. It is also quite possibly the most extensive documentary on runnable trails in New Zealand and will make you daydream of exploring many other trails you probably hadn’t even thought of running in the country.


Life on the Fells

Directed by James Stevens and Todd Gardner

This short film captures the essence of running so beautifully, it’ll have you dreaming of steep hills and big gnarly challenges. It follows Adam Briggs, who has survived a heart transplant and 65 surgeries, and just keeps on running.


Tarawera Ultra Marathon

Of course no list would be complete for inspiring you pre your Tarawera race than previous Tarawera movies! Check out the 2017 movie at the above link but there are previous years too. Savour those views because you are going to be living them very soon! See you at the start line.


List complied by Steven Blackburn, Auckland NZ. Tarawera 100 Mile Endurance Run entrant.

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