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NZ gets trail running film festival

Reel Wild, Auckland, 30 January 2015: With stunning bush, spectacular mountain ranges, pristine coastlines, volcanic plateaus, rainforest and beautiful lakes all within short driving distances from the country’s main city centres, do we even need to explain why New Zealand has firmly established itself as a mecca for trail runners worldwide?

We didn’t think so.

With trail running experiencing an explosion in popularity over the last few years, the number of events in New Zealand has been steadily increasing and the country is now the setting for over 180 trail running races per year, with new ones popping up all the time and attendance numbers consistently breaking records.

To date, few events outside of the trail races themselves have celebrated the sport. On April 18, 2015, local trail running crew Mediocre Astronauts will launch the first ever Trail Running Film Festival in Auckland. Titled “Reel Wild”, the inaugural event will showcase the best trail running films worldwide and share the passion for the sport.

This is the first time that trail runners will have the chance to come together as a community outside of organised trail events, leaving the muddy shoes at home and taking part in an event that is set to become a regular fixture in the trail running calendar.

Organisers Steve Blackburn and Vera Alves have hired Hopetoun Alpha and aim to create the laid back atmosphere of the post run catch up with friends; “This is an event for trail runners to come together and share their love for the sport in a relaxed manner. We’ll be showing films, chatting about trail running, eating some good food and Auckland’s Epic Beer have partnered with us to make available some of the finest New Zealand craft beer you can find,” explains Blackburn.

The film selection is diverse including both longer features and short films, personal reflections and trail race accounts. Local directors include Aaron Smart showcasing his new film on Kiwi trail running sensation Ruby Muir, “Just Keep Running”. Smart will be at the event to discuss the film with the viewers. Tarawera Ultra race director Paul Charteris will also be present to introduce the latest movie on his world renowned Tarawera Ultramarathon (which takes place in Rotorua on February 7th).

Overseas directors include Joel Wolpert’s movie” In the High Country” featuring trail running legend Tony Krupicka and “Depressions”, Wolpert’s new movie featuring another esteemed US runner Rob Krar.

Ethan Newberry, known online as The Ginger Runner, will showcase “The Gorge 50K”, an overview of an amazingly beautiful trail race in Washington State, all shot using a GoPro.

Globally renowned film producers The African Attachment will show their series of short films produced for Salomon as well as the powerful documentary “The Beauty of the Irrational”.

The film festival concludes with one of the first ever screenings of “The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young” by Annika Iltis and Timothy Kane, a documentary about one of the most secretive, eccentric, and difficult trail races ever created.

The programme is yet to be fully finalised, with more films and speakers to be announced in the coming weeks.

Finally because it wouldn’t be a trail running event without a trail run, the following day will see attendees given the opportunity to lace up their shoes for a special one-off run to be held in the Waitakere Ranges, west of Auckland. The run will be led by Jo Johansen, elite NZ ultrarunner, winner of the Tarawera Ultra and Hutt River Trail races.

Alves and Blackburn hope that this festival will become an annual event repeated in cities up and down the county.

“We know the trail running community shares our passion for the sport and we’d love to take this concept on the road in the coming year,” says Alves. “We’re lucky here in New Zealand to have such amazing resources in our backyard and getting a bunch of likeminded folk together to relax, raise a glass or two and watch some inspiring movies seemed a great way to celebrate that.”

Event details
Location: Hopetoun Alpha off K Road
Date and time: April 18, 2015, 1pm – Late (with optional trail run in the Waitakere Ranges the following day)
Tickets: $35 plus booking fee