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Running films on Netflix

by kirsty
Monday 19th December 2016
It’s Christmas time and that means that we will be subjected to many things: presents that make you wonder how a member of your close family could know you so little; small talk with relatives during which they will say ‘you’ll ruin your knees’ and you will have to smile in reply; and terrible TV. We can’t do anything about those first two but we can definitely help with the third. 
If you’re a Netflix subscriber there are some fantastic running films on there at the moment. You can avoid watching ‘Santa Claus: The Movie’ for the 20th time and bag some great running inspiration at the same time. 
First up ‘The Barkley Marathons’ (subtitle 'the race that eats its young'). If you haven’t heard of this event it takes place in Tennessee each year and it consists of five twenty mile laps. That already sounds quite hard, but it’s unmarked and the terrain is so difficult (a huge amount of ascent, hacking through thorny bushes, a distinct lack of what you’d call a path) that very few people (only 14) have completed the race in its history. There are so many idiosyncracies about this race, that I won’t spoil here, and this film documenting the 2012 race is so well worth a watch.

Finding Traction

Next, ‘Finding Traction’. This is the film of Nikki Kimball’s attempt to break the record for running the 273 mile Long Trail in Vermont. If you’re not familiar with Nikki she is an American ultra runner who’s won pretty much everything there is to win in her sport, including Western States (three times), UTMB and MdS. Nikki is unbelievably badass and hugely committed to inspiring women to get active (she raised money for the Girls on the Run charity running the Long Trail). 
‘Finding Traction’ is both beautifully shot and fascinating in its subject matter, which is namely running for a really long time and its physical and mental effects. I had a huge amount of respect for Nikki before watching the film anyway, but after seeing her enduring huge amounts of pain, crying with tiredness and STILL RUNNING I’m just in awe. She is dangerously inspirational so if you need a bit of a kick to get out of the door this Christmas, watch this fantastic film. I was only supposed to run 9 miles on Sunday but after watching it on Saturday night (and I’d seen it before) I accidentally ran 15. Nikki Kimball is entirely to blame for this. We interviewed her about ‘Finding Traction’ when it came out and she also wrote an article for us about running with your dog and she could not have been more lovely, funny and more generous with her time. 

Town of Runners

Lastly, there’s ‘Town of Runners’. This film is about a small town (Bekoji) in Ethiopia which has produced some of the greatest distance runners in the world, such as Tirunesh Dibaba, Kenenisa Bekele, and Derartu Tulu. The film follows the coach in the town and some of the athletes and their stories. It’s a fascinating insight into grass roots running in Ethiopia and what it takes to make it. It’s a beautiful film (the shots of runners in coaching groups moving in perfect unison are well worth watching) and we loved it when we reviewed it at the time.
So while you may have to watch some repeats of ‘classic Christmas specials’ and spend the odd afternoon on the sofa with a Christmas film, if you can control the remote at any point over the festive period you might find you can indulge your love of running even while under house arrest. And then when you do sneak a run in, you can harness your inner Nikki Kimball and you might be out there for a while.

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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