Four Trails

Four Trails

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Four Trails, running any distance is really a great accomplishment. Couch to 5k can be transformative. But what of ultramarathons? An ultra marathon is any event over a distance of greater than 43 kilometres, and it represents the ultimate test of endurance that will push your body to its natural limits.

Through the years, there have been some good documentaries about running this distance. One such example is The Barkley Marathons, while another would be Desert Runners. Yet few may have ever heard of Four Trails, one new independent film presently making rounds in festivals. It’s worth watching all the same since it ranks among the best running documentaries to come out recently.

For those who are unfamiliar, Four Trails takes place in Hong Kong and follows an adventure challenge that not many people know about from outside the country. It spans four days of never-ending running with each day covering a different section along well recognized trails: Machlehose100km, Wilson trail78km, Lantau trail70km and Hong Kong Trail50 km which collectively amount to more than 300 km. They’re back-to-back; they’re brutal.

No trekking poles are allowed and there’s no music either. With all these things taken into consideration, this hour and forty minute documentary chronicles what is known as one of planet earth’s most challenging ultramarathons – truly an epic event.

Robin Lee managed to capture every high and low of each stage following several competitors attempting to complete-or break time records-for this event. From sub-50 hour finishes for some who survive just for completion purposes; one-tenth of participants finish on average – so this race really isn’t for anyone faint-hearted.

However, the 2021 race was exceptional in that only previous “Finishers” or “Survivors” were invited to take part as depicted throughout the movie. This film works very well; you find yourself cheering everyone on just hoping that they will cross the finish line and achieve their goals.

It’s also great how the film was shot. Robin Lee being an independent filmmaker, he incorporates a selection of clever shots into the movie. One specific tracking shows a very difficult staircase that goes up and down for a long time which is really unforgettable. It’s brilliant because it shows how hard this task is in particular. Likewise, some amazing drone shots way above while the course winds through valleys and hills are breathtaking. All these matters lead to a smooth, glossy finish.”

At the starting point of each event, there is some good narration as a white line shows the path of the race, including dips and valleys. This enables one to have an idea of how far away from him/her these runners have to go, more so when combined with the usual area maps. On that note too, it cleverly divides the film into roughly four quarters where we see all the races in their full beauty or ugliness! (whatever you think)

Four trails is a great running documentary. It captures the extent to which human endurance can be stretched and just how difficult this ultra-marathon is in relation to other things. The movie has good motivation and editing making it quite worthy watching. Four Trails is a must-see if you’re into documentaries or running for that matter.

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