What kind of person runs 100 miles just for fun? The answer to this question lies within the documentary Massanutten: Two Runners, 100 Miles, filmed at the 2006 running of the Massanutten Mountain Trail 100 (MMT) ultramarathon, near Front Royal, Virginia. The MMT gives participants 36 hours to run the 100 mile course, ascending 19,000 feet on roads and rocky trails. The two runners referenced in the title are Gary Knipling, 62, a gregarious 9-time finisher again taking on the MMT, and Kerry Owens, 43, a steadily improving competitor returning for her third run.
By following these personable runners throughout the course, the film emphasizes the social aspects while capturing the unique spirit of ultra-running. The idea is not to downplay the difficult nature of the sport but to show the many other facets of these long distance events - the participants' jovial camaraderie, mutual respect, and lasting friendships, and their enjoyment of the rigorous challenge. Other films have focused on the grueling task and the agony of the runners. While these elements do exist, the whole experience is another thing altogether. Although the race tests the runners mentally as well as physically, they support one another as they share its highs and lows.
Gary and Kerry, along with numerous race volunteers, pacers, and crews, reveal the true nature of competition in a 100 mile race, making this documentary a realistic picture of an event that outsiders can hardly imagine and participants come to love.
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