Media Life: Auburn's Epic WS100 is star of new movie

By: Gus Thomson/Media Life
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At one time, Media Life was convinced that Western States 100 runners were a crazed bunch of uber-athletes. Over time, that opinion has morphed considerably into healthy respect for those who attempt to run 100 miles through the Sierra onfoot – in 24 hours or less. They’re overachievers, perhaps. But also driven, super-athletic, competitive and, above-all, goal oriented. And while finishing is good enough for some, a new film that debuts in San Francisco Dec. 2 called “Unbreakable: The Western States 100” shows the drive to succeed behind the best of the best. Reno, Nev.-based JB Benna of Journeyfilms locks his lens in on four of the favorites to win in the 2010 edition of the Western States 100. An ultramarathoner himself and a Western States finisher, Benna ran 34 miles of the run two years ago carrying a 10-pound camera to film some amazing on-the-trail footage of front-runners Hal Koerner, Geoff Roes, Anton Krupicka and Kilian Jornet. Another seven camera operators along the route captured the gritty resolve of the pack leaders, while interviews with running legends like Auburn’s own Tim Twietmeyer, multiple run champ Scott Jurek and Meadow Vista WS10 pioneer Gordon Ainsleigh helped provide perspective. Benna and his team have already completed documentaries on David Horton’s 2,700-mile run of the Pacific Crest Trail and ultramarathoning iron man Dean Karnaze’s quest to run 50 marathons in 50 states over 50 days. The Western States 100 has been the subject of many TV documentaries in the past, including a period in the 1970s when it was featured on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” But the 90-plus minutes of “Unbreakable” was the first documentary that zeroed in on the upper echelon of runners competing in the 2010 ultramarathon, Benna said. “It’s kind of the pinnacle of the sport – the Super Bowl of ultra-running,” Benna said. “There has never been a film about this level of competition and it all came together in one year.” While San Francisco will be the scene of the “Unbreakable” debut, about 35 more screenings are already being lined up. Close to home, Benna said the Western States 100 lottery Dec. 10 at Placer High School will be a chance to premiere the film in Auburn. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at (530) 852-0232 or