The coronavirus has shut down races, public lands, group runs, and fitness retailers. With (live) group fitness activities off the menu, one of the main organizing forces of our lives is gone. For now.
As a way to reconnect with our pre-coronavirus selves, James Varner of Rainshadow Running and Abram Dickerson of Aspire Adventure Running are collaborating to host a Virtual Edition of the Trail Running Film Festival on May 1 at 5:30 Pacific Time.
According to Abram, the Aspire-Rainshadow collaboration came from mutual interest in wanting to ensure the festival continues well after the pandemic closures and shutdowns have ended.
“James and the Rainshadow Running team have been organizing destination trail races in the Northwest since 2006, and they are one of the premier trail race organizations in the country. Aspire came along in 2014, and from the beginning James has been a friend and supporter. My first time really connecting with James was over drinks in Seattle after the first night of the 2015 Trail Running Film Festival in Seattle. Since then Aspire has had a steady presence at Rainshadow races and been a regular sponsor of the Trail Running Film Festival.”
“The Festival ultimately falls under the umbrella of the Outdoor Arts and Recreation 501c3, whose mission is to support artists and athletes who take inspiration from recreation and adventure. We wanted to support the work of filmmakers whose films capture the inspiration, artistry, and stories unique to the trail community and provide the platform for our community to watch them. These films become a living history of our sport and a source of inspiration and adventure for those who love trails across the globe.”
James says the films will cover a variety of topics.
“We’ll be showing a wide variety of interesting and exciting films. From runners going for speed records on trails like the Tahoe Rim Trail, to a film about the “golden hour” at Western States 100 miler, to personal stories of runners and their pets, or someone using running as “trail medicine,” and even a few funny films too. It’s a little bit of everything, just like the sport!”
If you can’t attend on May 1, Abram says there will be options.
“The vision for the Virtual Edition of the Trail Running Film Festival is to have thousands of trail runners across the country participating remotely at the same time and on the same channel. There is something special about the sharing and witnessing some incredible content and stories together. We’ve had a lot of interest from people who are planning their own sub-group watch parties.”
“But, if folks want to host their own film fests there are plenty of digital tools to make that happen. We’ll be recording the show and it will be available on our YouTube channel after the event.”
Northwest in Motion is hosting a discussion on our Forum.
I asked Abram about the challenges ahead for event organizers.
“There is a lot more we don’t know than what we do know about covid-19 and how economic and recreational activities will return. That said, Aspire has always positioned itself on the guiding/crewing side of the event spectrum. Our focus from the start has been to provide support to small groups of runners getting deep into wilderness and backcountry spaces. My hope is that somewhere in between the current shutdown and a return to large events that we’ll be given the opportunity by our permitting agencies, Yosemite, Mt. Rainier, and the North Cascades National Parks as well as others to put in place some clearly defined social distancing strategies for our basecamp operations and deliver on our trips. If/when we get that green light we’re ready to implement a pretty spectacular calendar.”
Abram had these suggestions about how to stay motivated for the long duration of the pandemic:
“It begins with recognizing that we’re in a pretty insane situation. Human beings are incredibly adaptive and resilient, but really adjusting to this situation isn’t linear or easy. I don’t think it’s always about being ‘positive’ as much as it’s about adjusting our expectations to match the current reality. That’s going to look really different depending on individual circumstances. Those with kids, those who are unemployed, those who are medical professionals, those living in apartments, those who live in rural areas are all having very different experiences. Regardless of your physical circumstances, having and developing important relationships is key. Those of us who are active know that keeping a routine and moving on a regular basis is critical. It’s important to match the goal with genuine motivation.”
Proceeds from the Film Festival go to the YWCA COVID-19 Emergency Relief and Community Resiliency Fund. The fund provides emergency cash and in-kind support for covid-19 preparedness, response, and recovery services, and to shore up critical housing, childcare, and domestic violence programs across the country that are facing imminent risk of closure as a result of the pandemic.
“The coronavirus represents an unprecedented shock to modern civilization. Prior to covid-19 the death and economic destruction we’re witnessing were things we were warned about, but were always abstract and distant, and bordering on science fiction. Now, thousands of lives have been lost and millions of people are unemployed. The impact of the virus is incredible and overwhelming. These shocks to our system are not equitably distributed. While some people can set up home offices, connect via Zoom, and adapt their employment to social distancing, there are others who are much more vulnerable.”
“During this crisis we really wanted to direct our support to the families, women, and children who are most vulnerable economically and socially. The YWCA is an organization with an outstanding history of empowering women and families. Their work happens on the front lines of covid-19 response and recovery. Their covid relief fund directly supports the work of supporting our communities’ most vulnerable children, women, and their families continue to rely on them for critical services like healthcare, childcare, and shelter.”