Monday, December 19, 2011

Unbreakable Movie Review

Saturday, December 17th was a day full of my favorite things. A beautiful clear day when I ran down from Twin Peaks to brunch (two miles, downhill!!). Brunch at Luna Park eating breakfast tacos. Wrote holiday cards (penguin photo from Comrades) to my extended family. Hiked with Greg in the Presidio. Cooked turbot & roasted brussel sprouts for dinner. And...saw "Unbreakable" the new Western States documentary.

The screening was fund-raiser at the Variety Theater in downtown San Francisco. I didn't know there was a screening room tucked in there! The theater sat around 75? people, and it was a sell-out. The tickets were $25, with part of the money going to charity. Most of the crowd was from the Golden Gate Tri club. I thought I would know more people then I did. I ended up sitting next to Rick Gaston which gave me a slight inferiority complex. I was sitting next to a two time Western States finisher! However, it was also very cool to sit next to Rick. When Greg & I were whispering about the Rucky Chucky raft crossing, Rick leaned in to tell us "the water was neck high that year!"

The movie gave a great overview of Western States and the top 4 male contenders in 2010. With in-depth interviews of Killian Jornet, Geoff Roes, Hal Koerner & Anton Krupnicka in their hometowns, pre-race, and post-race, the movie paints a picture of "the big dance". For me, to see Geoff Roes, a "big time elite" camping out and cooking over a camp stove, I was reminded how self-funded ultra racers really are. The movie also screened at Sports Basement the night before North Face 50 Mile, Geoff & Coach Ken were sharing a Marin hostel room & Coach Ken ended up in the elite shot!

The most impressive parts were the in-race footage. JB Benna (the director) ran on the course with a camera. I loved the part where the runners said "Killian looked back at the top of the Escarpment, waiting for companions". Then there's a shot of Killian, looking back, wanting a running buddy to run with! Later in the race, Anton described "Killian leapt up on the side of the trail and passed us" Anton's description didn't capture how Killian bounded like a goat, out of sight in a minute!

I also enjoyed the interviews with Gordy Ansleigh about how he started the race when his horse came up lame for the original, horse Western States.

The movie, however, doesn't show the physical & mental drama at the middle or back of the pack, or the women's race. Jenn Shelton, an awesome runner, is relegated to "Anton's pacer". The only two women finishers shown are Tracy Garneau (first) and Carly, Hal's fiancee. I appreciate the movie's focus at "the top male contenders", but for a fuller focus of the human effort of Western States, see "Race for the Soul". [Rick pointed out I missed a cameo from Carol at an aid station ]

Overall, if you're interested in Western States (or ultras), the movie is a fun watch, with exciting race footage. Even knowing who the winner is didn't detract from my enjoyment in seeing the race unfold.

Jorge, another Endurable, and Rick answered questions afterwards. I also thanked John, the host, for putting on such a great event. He recognized me! as he was at the 30 mile aid station at Headlands 100. Watching the movie made me feel like I have 100 miles in me. I didn't have it that day at Headlands, but I think I'll have it another day.

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