Running Madness | 1hr : 14mins
Director: Susan Cohn | Producer: Susan Cohn
Focus Years: 2002 | Country: United States
"Running Madness" grants you access into a world that inspires both the inner hero and the inner cynic: the world of ultramarathons. In our not-so-distant past, it seemed astonishing that people were capable of â€“ and enjoyed â€“ running 26.2 miles in around three hours. Marathoners were crazy, obsessive and undoubtedly damaging their bodies if not their misled souls. But now grandmothers as well as CEOs hit the asphalt with the same regularity and acceptance with which they collect the mail or go to lunch. Therefore, meet the new crazy on the block: the ultrarunner, who endeavors to run 100 miles through arduous mountainous terrain with no sleep, no hot meals and questionable common sense in 30 hours or less. But are these folks so crazy? Or could this intensity of running actually be what is keeping them sane, and potentially supplying the rest of us with a venue for our own madness?
"Running Madness" focuses on the grand-daddy of all ultra runs: the Western States 100 (WS100). Started in 1974 by the charismatically off-center Gordy Ainsleigh, WS100 has grown to become the Indie 500 of the ultrarunnerâ€™s world. A lottery gets you in, and something indescribable gets you through. "Running Madness" seeks to unravel what that "indescribable something" is, via interviews with the runners, their pacers, the hundreds of volunteers who show up year after year (as addicted as the runners are) to work the aid stations, the organizers and the medical staff. What personality type is drawn to such a challenge? Is there a particular profession or region or cultural background that links the runners? Can anyone do it? Are they damaging their bodies? Are they uplifting their souls? Do they think this is fun? Do they eat? Where do they pee? Why, oh, why do they do it? These are only a handful of the questions that "Running Madness" addresses.
Shot on the trails and in the aid stations, incorporating pre-race jitters and post-race joy, this documentary follows the trajectory of seven runners from their hopes at the beginning to their realizations at the finish line. The viewers end up with a few realizations of their own: perhaps these folks arenâ€™t so nuts after all. Set to a rock â€˜n roll soundtrack with an eye for the beauty of the Squaw Valley landscape and an ear for the humor and hopes of the participants, "Running Madness" brings to life the common language of running, the intrinsic desire for camaraderie and the wonderfully equalizing effect of lots and lots of mountains, rocks and trees.