1.17.2011

Hood to Coast Film Review

After enjoying my own experience as being part of a 12-person relay that runs almost 200 miles, I was extremely excited to be given the opportunity to review the film Hood to Coast. It was being shown across the U.S. in select theaters on 1-11-11 with the ambitious (and successful) goal of creating one of the largest nation-wide running events. Plus, it's pretty cool to walk into a theatre and use the words "press pass."

Before the film started, we were treated to some red-carpet style interviews by Runner's World's chief running officer Bart Yasso and the film's producer, Anna Campbell. It was a nice addition to the normal movie-viewing experience and added some quick introductions to people associated with the race and the film. Anna also provided a panel interview after the film with cast members, HTC Founder Bob Foote, the film's director Christoph Baaden and Olympian and HTC Women's Course Record Holder Mary Decker Slaney.

For a quick synopsis, the film follows four teams (comprised of 12 runners) as they participate in an annual 197-mile relay race (Hood To Coast Relay) through the Oregon country side from Mt. Hood to the Oregon coastline. The relay race began in 1982 with only 8 teams but has reached a such a level of success and popularity that it is now capped at 1000 teams and uses a lottery system for the majority of the entry spots. Early on in the film, they do a great job of covering the history of the event and breaking down how the event works logistically — this is very important for those who might not know how such an event works — it was a wonderful inclusion and helped introduce the relay-experience in a successful manner.

One of the key elements in the film was to include all types of runners and their unique experience and relationship to the event. The four teams featured were all there for different reasons. Here is a quick (important) break-down of the teams:










Dead Jocks in a Box
12-men (including one of only two 27-year veterans) who aim to rank high in their age-group to guarantee a spot in the following year's race. Their comedic and humorous, yet competitive, approach to the event highlights the range of characters that this race consistently draws. 










Heart-n-Sole
A team of women over 50 who love the race for the pure sake of enjoying running together. The focus of their story line is based on a longtime team-member Kathy who collapsed on the race the previous year with a heat attack. Their (and her) goal to finish the race is an important one on testing the limitations of the human mind, spirit and body.










Thunder and Laikaing
The experience from a non-runner's perspective is highlighted here and done so extremely successfully with good-natured and light-hearted levity and humor. Focusing on two runners of the team, who are reviewing the race logistics and going out to run 3-miles for the FIRST time, EVER, days before the event. This team offers a true-experience for first time participants (and first time runners).










R. Bowe
This team's experience will tug at your heart strings and give a glimpse into how running can celebrate both life and death. A year prior, weeks before the race, Ryan Bowe died suddenly at age 30 leaving his family and friends grief stricken. Their journey the following year to run together as a collection of family and friends to celebrate his life is told through the experiences of his mother, father, wife, brother and friends across the 197-mile journey.

Including four different groups, all there for different reasons, but striving to complete a single goal is the basis for the success of the film. It drives the entire story line covering a complete spectrum of emotions across each of the teams' journey to accomplish a race that will test the endurance (and sanity) of any runner.

I took this opportunity to watch the film with a non-runner so that I could gauge the film-viewing experience from someone who doesn't run. We runner's love talking, reading and watching anything associated with running. It's a given. But for a film to be truly successful and effective, it has to reach the masses, including those without a knowledge of the intricacies of what we do. Speaking with her after the film it was clear that we enjoyed the film for the same reasons. It wasn't a single story line that covers every monotonous mile of an epic race. Nor was it an informational documentary who's sole purpose is to give a history and recap. It was a multi tiered view into a journey that brings people together, runners and non- alike. The common goals that bond us as humans, as friends.

Using humor, pain, triumph and raw emotion, we are getting a front row seat to a journey across 197-miles, not just focusing on the race and the running, but focusing on what unifies people in the experience. That is what makes Hood to Coast one of the most sought-after race experiences and also what makes the film so engaging. We are enthralled in the passion of competitive and humorous older male runners. We are inspired by the determination of a single woman to not only over-come a heart attack, but to finish a race that nearly killed her and to rely on the support of her entire team. We are introduced to the magnitude of the course's requirements and captivated by the first-time experiences of two individuals who have no idea what they have gotten themselves into... and we love every minute of it. And we are ultimately given a glimpse into what we as friends and family can accomplish when we are surrounded by those that love us and how our lives can affect those around us.

I absolutely loved this film and would recommend it to everyone. It also received a "stamp of approval" from my non-running friend who enjoyed it on multiple levels. The film is looking to set up additional dates for nation-wide viewing, please check their website for additional information. There are also some great film trailers and video shorts for you to enjoy.



1 comment:

Katrina said...

Hey PR! Great review!

Just a note to let you know I'm still around - and I brought my blog back!!!!

Take care!!!
Katrina (Treadmill Runner :)
alibrarianontherun.blogspot.com