Monday, June 21, 2010

Race me

The goal of this past weekend for the kitchen table docs crew was to capture as much of the hill climb experience as our modest little set up would allow. Working with a team of two, a little HD video camcorder, an SLR camera, and enough clif bars to fuel a mountain goat, we attacked the weekend with vigor. Cannot say enough how much fun the weekend was, for a NH-phile, running-phile and film dork such as myself. Cannot say enough how welcoming and warmhearted this racing event treated us (and treated just about everyone, in general).

I'll give you a run down of the weekend, so you can feel like you were there!

I packed up the kitchen table Jetta Thursday morning. From cameras to all-weather clothing (ya never know) to Harpoon UFO White (to honor the White Mountains, of course). Erin, my crew-mate from Long Island arrived and we drove up the three hours from Boston into the White Mountains and found ourselves neatly nestled just south of Mt Washington in Glen, NH (thank you McCann's for the most peaceful HQ imagined). After a crash course in equipment usage (never would have guessed it was E-rock's first documentary gig, would you have? very professional), we crashed for the night pumped for predicted sunny skies, perfect for pictures.

Friday 6AM wake up call. To capture that lovely morning light I am so fond of, the Jetta took us around to some scenic points of interest. BAM! Mt Washington, sans cloud shroud! Then, we got a little turned upside down and around again driving through the valley. With mountains on either side, gentle slopes of trees and jagged cliffs of rock boulder amidst the winding road, all I could do was pull over and gasp at the mind boggling beauty. Thank you John Weeks for enabling the preservation of what you saw so that we might see today the same thing (Shout out to the Weeks Act 1911)!

Did some location scouting around the Mt Washington Auto Road. It was Biker Weekend and thus wildly loud everywhere. We had an interview shoot scheduled for this area in a few hours and had to figure out where to film. Relying on only natural light and bulbs already installed at any given locale, this guerilla film team had to get creative. And we did. We found a slightly more secluded hill above the main buildings thanks to our friend and Mt Washington Auto Road aficionado, Eli.

Nancy Hobbs, World Mountain Running Association

Friday evening was a whirlwind of meeting hill climbers from all over, all walks of life, all age groups and all deeply powerful connections to the mountain. Peter, a long time member of Team Gloucester, recounted his first time up the mountain. Andy, the race announcer, broke down the psychological nature of the climb. Fred shared his connection to the mountain, including the 33 times he's run it. in a row. that's right...we have a streaker!

Fred Ross, the streaker

Up bright and early for the 10AM start of the race (meaning another 6AM wake up call). And in fact, it was bright-- sunny skies for the second day in a row, with clear views of the mountain. The crew went their separate ways: one in the press van to follow the elite action and one in the Jetta to take in the views from the tippity-top. Aside from locking the keys in the trunk (eh hemm), the kitchen table team did make it down the mountain post race. I still don't know if we were able to fully capture the intensity of running up the tallest peak in New England. What does it take to reach the summit? Eyes forever yearning towards the sky in hopes that the crest of this behemoth is near, and then when it finally does, these same eyes realize the attached legs will need to muster enough strength to climb a truly daunting 22% grade in just 50 yards.

The base of the mountain was a mix of family reunion and graduation accomplishment (both come with a whole lotta food and drink and hugs). The camaraderie of the Mt Washington Road Race is not to be overlooked. Mountain runners are a special niche of runners and they know it, but they share and encourage it with anyone that's interested. No insiders club here, folks. We met so many great runners, supporters, organizers and even other filmmakers on this trip. A great group of people all coming together to go toe to toe in a race with each other, yes, but even more so the mountain and ultimately, themselves.

Winners Chris Siemers and Shewarge Amare with Race Director Bob Teschek and sponsor Delta Dental's Tom Raffio

Sunday we met with Howie Wemyss the general manager of the Auto Road (the road by which this race is made possible). He gave an insightful and expansive history of the area and the road itself. Can you even imagine, in a time without Eastern Mountain Sports and REI that enough people were attempting to climb this 6,288 ft peak, and succeeding, that a summit hotel was profitable in the 1800s?? The Auto Road played a great part in allowing people to experience the heights, sights and thrill of standing on top of it all.

This concluded our stay in the beautiful White Mountains. It was awesome. To everyone who shared their experiences with us, thank you, thank you. Now, uhh, let's make a film.


1 comment:

Thor said...

Intense... looking forward to the end result! Running up the auto road to Mount Washington was unlike any experience I've done before. The level of difficulty has you already at mile post one, with still over 6 more miles to go, wondering if the next step is your last. That is, if you try to run the whole thing. For me, I am proud to say that I did. But it hurt. It was very hard. The reward was an experience I will never forget. Can't wait to see the film!

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