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Desert Runners - 1000km across the world's most treacherous terrain

by kirsty
Wednesday 2nd April 2014
Tags  Desert Runners   |   RacingThePlanet   |   Sahara Race   |   4 Deserts series   |   Atacama Crossing   |   Gobi March   |   The Last Desert   |   Mimi Anderson   |   Samantha Gash   |   Freedom Trail   |   Freedom Runners

Film review: Run247 columnist Kirsty Reade is blown away by Desert Runners

I am a self-confessed running geek and will excitedly watch any sort of running documentary. However, once in a while a really special documentary, which isn’t just about running but also has a strong human element, will come along and blow me away. Desert Runners comes under this category and I can’t recommend it highly enough (but I will try).

Gobi March 2013 - June 2-8, 2013

Photos: 4 deserts Gobi March 2013

The reason I know about Desert Runners is that Mimi Anderson (friend of Run247) is currently working on a huge project called Freedom Runners, which will see her and Samantha Gash run the entire length of the 2350km Freedom Trail in South Africa to raise funds for the establishment of a social enterprise business in South Africa to support school girls and women. Read all about it here:  www.freedomrunners.org. You could support their fundraising during March by downloading the Desert Runners film and a proportion of your payment was donated to Freedom Runners. The link is that Samantha Gash is one of the runners in Desert Runners.

Desert Runners features four runners who are attempting the grand slam of Racing the Planet’s Desert Races – Atacama Crossing (Chile), Gobi March (China), Sahara (Jordan) and the Last Desert (Antarctica) - in one calendar year. They’re all normal people (inasmuch as ultra runners are normal), not elite runners, they have varied running backgrounds, and they have jobs and families to fit their adventures around. Most of all they all have deeply personal reasons for wanting to complete the challenge. One, Tremaine, had lost his 33 year old wife to cancer the previous year, leaving him a single parent to two young children. He wanted to do it for her (and to raise money for a charity he set up in her memory) and to help him work through his grief. He’s a big tough ex-military man but his openness about his still very raw feelings was incredibly moving and was very sensitively treated by the film-makers. David, a 54 year old Irish man, was doing it prove to himself that he could and he just came across as such a lovely, supportive and determined man that you really willed him on when times got tough!

Sahara Race - October 28, 2012

Photos: 4 deserts Sahara Race 2012

The four challenges are multi-stage (7 day) races which are 250km in length. Given where they are, they are characterised by extreme heat and, in the final case, extreme cold. The documentary features each race in turn and we follow the ups and downs of the competitors. The other two featured runners, Samantha and Ricky, are younger (Samantha was the youngest ever competitor to attempt the grand slam) and more accomplished athletes but all four suffer some huge highs and lows. In Ricky’s case most of the lows involve puking. We talk about being pushed to our limits but have you ever run for 28 hours in 40 degree heat while being unable to keep any food or water down and stopping every few metres to puke? I was absolutely astounded at the ability of the runners to keep on going in unimaginable circumstances. Something horrendous happens to Samantha during one stage, something from your worst nightmares, and I am absolutely certain that 99.9% of us would have quit and got the first flight home in that situation. But Samantha isn’t in that 99.9% and although it was harrowing viewing to see what she was going through the outcome was utterly inspirational.

I can’t tell you whether all or any of them manage to complete their grand slam because you have to watch this movie. I can tell you that this is one of the most inspirational films I have ever seen and the fact that it’s about running was just a giant bonus for me. It may well make you want to take on a huge challenge and at the same time some of the more upsetting events in the film may well make you think about safety and what the potential costs of pushing things too far might be. It’s a film about the camaraderie we develop with our fellow runners, the reasons we tackle the challenges we do and it’s an incredible insight into the ability of the mind to override the body and keep on going when we have nothing at all left.

This film is guaranteed to give your running mojo a massive boost, and to help you find a bit more in your reserves when you feel like you can’t carry on.  It will make you complain less about the minor inconveniences we experience when running  and it will hopefully make you want to support Samantha Gash and Mimi Anderson’s project http://www.freedomrunners.org/. Having watched this film and knowing Mimi I can’t imagine two more determined people to complete this challenge.

To find out more or to purchase the film visit: buy.desertrunnersmovie.com

To find out more about the 4 Deserts visit: www.4deserts.com

Gobi March 2013 - June 2-8, 2013


About The Author

Kirsty Reade

I’d describe myself as borderline obsessed with running, racing, reading about running, and watching others run so hopefully I’m fairly typical of Run247’s visitors. I tend to do longer races, particularly off-road marathons and ultras, but am pretty much a fan of any distance. I'm passionate about helping runners of all levels to improve through running communities I'm involved in, such as Underground Ultra and Free Range Runners. 


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