Sydneysiders are known to hibernate during winter. An exception would be runners. For Boobs on the Run, throughout the cooler, darker months you will find us rugging up and heading outdoors.
Having said that, the thought of getting cosy at the quaint, heritage-listed Randwick Ritz to watch two hours of films about running sounds pretty appealing. Running sports event company, Buzz Events & Co, have created RuNation, an evening of two hours of eight local and international films all about running. Movie-goers also have the chance to win door prizes including vouchers from our friends over at Running Science.
We spoke to Keith Hong, director of Buzz Events & Co to find out what punters can expect from Sydney’s only dedicated running film festival.
“We are conscious of everyone getting something out of it, from new runners to ultra marathoners,” says Hong. The idea to put on the inaugural night of films came when Hong was preparing the prestigious annual North Face 100 ultra-marathon. A woman told him she felt more inspired to run after watching the film The Long Haul: John Muir Trail about a North Face runner.
“I was wondering if there was a way I could find a collection of movies to share with other people,” he explains. “When we were doing the research I noticed there was a lot of content for ultra running and trail running but that is a very extreme side of running. I spoke with Ngaire O’leary, a colleague of mine with a film background who explained it’s not difficult to find content about running.”
Together Hong and O’leary knocked back commercialised films that were too focused on locations or specific races. “Ngaire’s technical background provides a lot of texture to the sequence and pace of the night. But our main focus is on the stories. We wanted RuNation to be about journey and purpose,” he explains. “It’s as if running is secondary. We didn’t want it to be about Nepal or a particular race. I am more about the person. I want to know your motivation. Why are you running? Why do you wake up at five in the morning to train?”
As a long distance runner, Hong was conscious not to fall into the trap of only commissioning stories about marathons and ultra-marathons. Although one surprise for Hong was about the lack of female-driven running films, especially considering women make up a huge component of both social and elite runners.
“It has to appeal to people who are into parkrun or are seasoned marathon runners,” he continues. “It was a little journey for myself. We knew we wanted a balance of track and field, and both masculine and feminine energy. When you have all those different energies translated on the big screen with the music and dramatisation of story it becomes a very moving experience.”
Two of the longer films look at Boston Marathon winner Wesley Korir and Rob Mason, the Australian ultra-marathon runner who took on an epic 240-kilometre race. But a story that particularly touched Hong was about Kirrily Dear, an Australian woman who completed 860 kilometres in 12 days. “She ran to raise awareness about domestic violence and was almost like a messenger. During her run women started coming out with their stories and said, ‘I can’t be silent anymore about the abuse’. The film is all about her journey and the ripple effect of that to all types of women across Australia. The five-minute clip we are showing is merely a 'teaser' of the documentary, Iceberg. But it is just as powerful.”
Hong has high hopes for this event and how it will grow in years to come. When asked how he finds the process of organising an event like this he laughs. “It goes back down to 80/20. I enjoyed the 80 per cent a lot. But I want to hear more across a wider group. I want to hear from mums, single dads, people who transitioned from obese to elite runner or juniors. Just pull out your phone and start filming. Anyone can do it. And everyone’s story is important.”
RuNation Running Film Festival, July 10, 6-9pm, Randwick Ritz, $28-60, 43-45 St Pauls Street, Randwick, www.buzzeventsandco.com.au