Probably about a month ago, my NetFlix arrived bearing a running movie. I received “Running the Sahara” and was excited to check it. Since it was a little while ago, I’ll try to recap and review it as best I can….I need to start writing these right after I watch the movie! One of these days I’ll get my act together!
Three guys, Charlie Eagle, Kevin Lin, Ray Zahab, all from different back grounds, decide to embark on quite a tough challenge. The idea to run across the whole Sahara Desert comes to one of them randomly and after discussing it, they realize no one has ever tried to do this. Thus a journey begins.
The whole journey covers 7,500 Kilometers (4,620 miles) in 111 Days. That’s running more than 170 marathons and running everyday for 111 days straight! They used a 12 hour running cycle to complete this: They would begin running at 5am until around about 11:00/12:00 then take a few hours off in the heat of the day, going back to running at 5pm, run for a few more hours, then sleep for the night. This was the cycle over and over and over.
The movie follows them as they deal with everything: injuries, sickness, mental drain, missing their girlfriends/wives, political drama, drama within their crew, and just about anything else you can think of.
At one point, one of the Runners, Kevin, wasn’t drinking enough water and starting cramping up. He is the smallest of the three men and lost four pounds of water in a day. They had a medical personal with their crew and had to give him fluids and made him drink a ton of electrolyte infused water.
Beside physical injuries and sickness, a lot of the problems that they would run into would be waiting until the last minute, not knowing if a country would let them in. There was one country (I can’t remember which) that wouldn’t have let them run through. The alternative would have been running through hostile environments littered with land mines. One runner was refusing to go that way, saying he would drop out if they had to run the alternate route. I don’t blame him! The team talked him into staying with them to the border, but luckily the country decided to let them pass right at the last minute.
Let alone do they have to deal with each other, but there’s a whole caravan of people with them…medical, coordinators, the film crew..and there’s even a little drama with that due do the time constraints and how long the whole journey was taking.
They all admit, “a lot tougher than you could have thought.” And my respond would be, “Well…duh!”
My favorite part comes when they are running in Rachi, Niger; the Tenere Desert Oasis. The group runs up to this oasis and are greeted by dozens of children and they start running with them and laughing, holding their hands! Just so open and caring and friendly. One of the runners says he left “feeling healed” by running with the kids after waking up that morning feeling tired and exhausted. Another part, one of the sweetest parts of the movie, as in an “awwww” moment (those don’t happen very often with me), is each of their respective wives or girlfriends visit them for a few days starting on christmas.
Overall: 3/5 , in my opinion, but I’m not a movie critic. At first I thought the whole movie was kinda boring. I had to pause it in the middle, go for a run, and come back and finish it. But that’s not to say it isn’t worth a watch. I definitely think it’s worth one watch. It’s the ending that’s worth it. It’s all about the transformative power of running, not just Africa. More info on the movie, click HERE.
It wasn’t until the end that we, as viewers, find out what they actually were running for, unless they stated it in the beginning and I missed it, which is entirely possible. At they end they run into the sea, feeling extremely accomplished and they explain what the run was for: H2O Africa. This is an organization bringing attention to the needs of parts of Africa that need water wells in the desert. For more info on that, click HERE.
My favorite quote comes at the end of the movie. It is said by the narrator as they greet their friends and family after their long journey: “It has been said that our lives are measured by the footprints we leave behind, the courses we chart, the examples for others to follow. They had sent out on an expedition, a run across the Sahara desert, and wound up traveling much farther. That is the transformative power of this place, Africa, and for the runners, nothing can ever be the same.”
If you do decide to rent the movie, make sure you watch the special features, The “Making Of”, specifically. Did you know Matt Damon was one of the producers?? This special feature gives a little more insight on what really goes on behind the scenes when people decide to embark on crazy adventures like this.