SHAFF highlights – 3022 Feet

3022ft.Movie_PosterLet’s be honest, I don’t even like running and running doesn’t like me. In the dim distant past, I struggled through a couple of half-marathons and pretty much hated every minute largely thanks to my training consisting of a couple of half-hearted jogs and watching Steve Cram on the telly.

I therefore approached 3022 Feet with some trepidation. A film about mountain running? Is that likely to qualify as entertainment? While there’s a great deal of enjoyment to be gleaned from watching other people endure pure misery, does it really qualify as an hour well-spent?

A rhetorical question I have to answer with an unequivocal yes. 3022 Feet follows the fortunes of a number of runners competing in the Mount Marathon Race in the village of Seward Alaska. First run in 1915, this race is only three and a half miles long but covers ground that would make a mountain goat pull a sicky. Up is essentially scrambling and down is an exercise in collecting gravel rash. It looks horrendous, either freezes or dehydrates runners depending on conditions and reduces many competitors to monosyllabic zombies by the finish line.

The joy of this film is the juxtaposition of such an extreme race with some truly inspiring personal stories. There’s the stay at home mum, self-coached and previous winner when many of the big names had failed to enter. Sick of hearing that she’d only won due to the absence of the pros, she is determined to prove otherwise.

There’s the childhood prodigy who has fallen prey to the perils of drink and drugs yet is determined to rediscover the runner she once was.

There’s the scarily mature winner of the junior race, a girl who really sticks it to the boys.

And there’s a men’s race, which plays a distant second fiddle to all these phenomenal women. The emphasis on the women’s race is both refreshing and entirely warranted. While the men’s race has its share of characters, the women’s race is characterised by a heart-warming combination of the competitive spirit and supportive sisterhood.

I reserve the right to be heartily bored by the next running film I see but this humane and inspiring film is an unexpected gem.

Details of SHAFF screenings of 3022 Feet HERE