December 12, 2011

"Unbreakable" Film Review

This past Friday I had the opportunity to attend a screening of a new running film, Unbreakable: The Western States 100. I'd seen the trailer the week before and really wanted to check it out, so I was excited to find out that my work was hosting a screening. As you probably could guess, the film covers the epic 2010 WS 100 ultra race. From the website:

"In 2010, four of the greatest undefeated mountain runners on earth toed the starting line at the Western States 100-mile endurance run, the oldest and most prestigious 100-mile foot race in the world.

'Unbreakable: The Western States 100' follows the four lead men on this amazing journey. Hal Koerner, two time defending Western States champion, and running store entrepreneur from Ashland, Oregon. Geoff Roes, undefeated at the 100-mile distance, an organic chef from Juneau, Alaska. Anton Krupicka, undefeated in every ultramarathon he has ever started, a graduate student living in Boulder, Colorado. Kilian Jornet, the young mountain runner and two time Ultra-trail du Mont-Blanc champion, from Spain. 

While their lives may be quite different, the goal is the same: win the Western States 100-mile run. A win will require breaking the course record and running the fastest time in the history of the race. An epic showdown ensues, from Squaw Valley, CA in Lake Tahoe, up though the high snow covered Sierra Nevada Mountains, down through the extreme heat of the American River Canyons and finishing in Auburn, CA. Though all four are undefeated, three must break and only one can remain Unbreakable."


The film ended up being just as epic as the race and had me on the edge of my seat for nearly 2 hours. It alternated between following the 4 runners on the trail as the race progressed and the intensity increased and interviews with the runners that offer a look into what their lives are like outside of running and racing. It was refreshing to see that despite tremendous talent, they all seem extremely down to earth and just really love to run. The footage from the race is pretty incredible, too. One of my favorite scenes was when Geoff, Anton, and Kilian began a steep descent and Kilian suddenly splits from the pack and takes off, putting so much space between them in such a short amount of time that you have to question whether you are seeing things correctly : ) Really, though, the filmmakers managed to make you feel like you were there.

While I did know the outcome of the race going into it, I nevertheless found myself wondering what would happen next. For those of you who don't know, after falling behind fairly early on, Geoff makes up a ton of ground and catches Anton around mile 88 and goes on to surge to the finish in a record-shattering 15:07. Watching Geoff cross the finish line after seeing the journey it took to get there was nothing short of amazing.

Completing a 100 miler has been on my bucket list for a while, and after volunteering at WS this past year I knew that one day I had to take on the infamous race. Now after watching Unbreakable I find myself with an ultra itch that only Western States can scratch : ) One day! If you have the chance to check out the film, I can't recommend it enough. Even if ultras or trails aren't your thing, you will undoubtedly still be inspired and entertained. In fact, I already pre-ordered my copy!


  1. GREAT REVIEW! Now I'm even more excited to see it. My copy shipped yesterday and should be here before Christmas. I was already on the edge of my seat just watching the trailer.

  2. I didn't know it was already released! Thank you! I just ordered a copy. Can't wait.