Through the Lens of a Trail Runner

The author, Robert Rhodes, is the Northern California director of the Trails in Motion Film Festival and founder of Bay Trail Runners. Join Robert on Thursday, September 8 screening of the Trails in Motion Film Festival at the Fremont Theatre in downtown San Luis Obispo as part of the inaugural SLO Ultra weekend of events. To purchase VIP tickets for the pre-screening reception with Noah and other Film Festival guests or for general admission tickets please click here. Proceeds benefit The Land Conservancy of San Luis Obispo.

For me, trail running has always been something visual, a way to escape and explore, losing thought and leaving the world for a while. While I do enjoy the feeling of reaching my goal in a race, pushing hard to get a PR and achieving that euphoric runners high, I’ve always been driven by what I might see around the next turn, in the woods, or over the hill. It’s perfectly fine for me to just get out on the trail and experience the views, solitude, the connection with nature and forget about numbers, pace, times, or that unattainable CR.

My run today brought me to Purisima Creek Redwoods, an Open Space Preserve just south of San Francisco. It was here, many years ago, where I found a wonderland of trails, woodlands, wildlife and scenery. As always, I found myself deep in thought and began to reflect on the Trails In Motion Film Festival Tour.

When I discovered Trails In Motion (TIM) happening in South Africa in 2013, I went to work with Founding Director, James Hallett and made plans to host the first international screening in San Francisco. It seemed like the perfect way for me to share my passion and get involved with others in the Bay Area trail and ultra community.

I hosted my first show in the San Francisco Presidio on the Thursday night before the Miwok 100k. It was a great success with around 200 showing up and sparked the idea for a much larger Northern California tour. Since then, it has now grown into my own 15 show tour with stops at The Western States 100, Orcas Island Marathon, Miwok 100K, Broken Arrow Skyrace, and now at the SLO Ultra! Each event is unique with special guests, local sponsors, vendor booths, cool venues and a great party atmosphere. Even though we all have our own reason for running, everyone in attendance shares that love for what they see out on the trail. The films capture these images for us and are there for us to see anytime.

I’m really looking forward to my next stop in San Luis Obispo on September 8 at the Fremont theater as an opening act of inspiration before the SLO Ultra. Not only will we have big guests, Krissy Moehl, Caroline Boller, Noah Cass, Myles Smythe and Luis Escobar, but TIM will be shared with the community as a fundraiser for the San Luis Obispo Land Conservancy.

The excitement of hosting Trails In Motion never seems to fade for me nor does the satisfaction of realizing that what started out as just an experimental idea has now been adopted by so many runners and movie fans around the world.

I’m honored that the SLO Ultra race committee has offered me this opportunity to bring Trails In Motion to San Luis Obispo and to also experience a 50 mile race through their beautiful landscapes out of Wild Cherry Canyon. It’s another great example of how I can use the festival to build relationships with such an awesome group of Race Directors, conservancy groups, art and film lovers, and other members in this great community of ours.

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