Desert Runners Takes Ultramarathons to the Next Crazy Level

You know how we say that a lot of fitness is about perspective and what your “normal” is? Well, here’s even more proof. Because after watching Desert Runners, a documentary that chronicles runners looking to complete four ultramarathons (or, ultra-, ultramarathons because this is endurance running taken to the extreme level) in the desert (yes, places on earth where nothing grows due to extreme weather) in a year’s time, you will feel totally inspired to get out and jog around your neighborhood or hop on that treadmill. I guarantee it.

desert-Runners

What you see people do in this documentary is crazy inspiring. And, yes, also just a little crazy. But in an interesting way — not just totally nutters way.

The documentary follows — as the name suggests — “Desert Runners” who are hoping to complete not one but all four ultramarathons that are held in the desert. There’s one in the Atacama, one in the Gobi, one in the Sahara and the final one in — wait for it — Antarctica. (See what I mean for being grateful for your treadmill or neighborhood trail?) These are each multiple-day races and on each day runners run/walk/hike around a marathon a day, if not more. The races are also “self-supported,” meaning that you have to carry everything you need with you for the day. And, again, just to repeat the facts, there are people looking to not finish just one of these, but to complete them ALL in a calendar year.

So who are the people signing up for this, of their own will? Well, besides this guy (he did four in a year, plus Death Valley. And that’s even without Pizza Hut delivering fuel!), a lot of seemingly normal people. I say seemingly because obviously it takes a special person to even want to do this kind of event. And Desert Runners give you an inside peek on why people do this — and then follows them through the races. Some do it for spiritual reasons, some do it to challenge themselves, some do it to give them a goal to overcome grief (bust out the tissues). But they all have a reason, and watching them put themselves through seriously hellacious conditions to reach their goal is definitely scary in parts but also incredibly inspiring. Not to mention that the camera work of this film is brutally brilliant — you really get a sense for what these deserts are like.

Desert Runners. Amazing.
Desert Runners. Amazing. Credit: Desert Runners

When watching Desert Runners it’s pretty much impossible to not try to imagine yourself in those conditions and doing what they’re doing. And it’s truly amazing what the human body — and human spirit — can do when training properly and dedicated. After watching the documentary, I have absolutely no desire to run an ultramarathon or, really, even run a few miles in the desert. But my planned four-mile run in 70-degree weather? Um, yeah. I got that.

Have you ever watched a documentary like Desert Runners that inspired you or put things in perspective? —Jenn 

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