Episode 165 of Talk Ultra is a Great Himalayan Trail Special to link with the release of ‘Lessons From The Edge’ film. We chat with Ryan Sandes, Ryno Griesel and Wandering Fever film maker, Dean Leslie.
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Lessons from the Edge is the new film by Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever that tells the story of Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s epic journey on the Great Himalayan Trail. Read a review of the movie HERE.
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A film documenting Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s epic adventures traversing the Great Himalaya Trail (GHT).
Dropping globally on Red Bull TV and Red Bull’s YouTube Channel on Tuesday 04 December 2018.
Many thanks to Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever for the advanced preview of the film.
Lessons from the Edge is not your ordinary running film and it is all the better for it. I would even go as far to say, that the film is not about running. It’s about friendship, survival, pushing to the limit, not giving in and adventure.
The film documents, South African runners, Ryan Sandes and Ryno Griesel’s attempt on the ‘GHT’ – The Great Himalayan Trail. We need to be clear here, that it is ‘their’ FKT (fastest known time) attempt on trying to beat a mark set by fellow South African, *Andrew Potter – a journey of some 1400km in 28-days.
*Lizzy Hawker and others have done other journeys on the GHT.
Sandes and Griesel know each other well and often team up for adventures; their record-breaking Drakensberg Traverse a prime example. I hope they both will forgive me, but Sandes is often the star and the media draw, while Griesel is the brains and brawn behind. I myself always fall into this trap – post the Drakensberg and GHT records, I interviewed Sandes for my podcast Talk Ultra.
Tune into the Talk Ultra Great Himalayan Trail special released Friday 7th December 2018 – Episode 165 – it includes an in-depth interview with Ryan Sandes conducted just after the GHT FKT and two post film interviews with Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever and Ryno Griesel.
I seriously think that ‘Lessons from the Edge’ is finally going to give Griesel the long overdue credit he finally deserves. The guy really is a legend.
The film is made by Sandes and Griesel’s long-term friend, and good buddy of mine, Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever. I first met Dean in 2012 on the island of La Palma at Transvulcania and it is fair to say, our careers in the world of trail, ultra and mountain running have moved alongside each other ever since.
Let me be clear, I think Dean is one of the best filmmakers out there! He always manages to look beyond running and find metaphors for life, in this movie, he excels himself.
Listen to a full and in-depth interview with Dean Leslie below:
The words of Dean Leslie give an indication of the film and its story, “When Ryan and Ryno started the Great Himalaya Trail they knew it would be physically tough. But no one ever thought this run would be life-threatening.”
I love Nepal, so, I was hooked from the start with the amazing vistas, the beautiful Nepali people and the forever wonderful sound of ‘Namaste!’
While this journey started as an FKT, I think it’s fair to say that as the film unfolds, any FKT becomes irrelevant as one witnesses the danger, pain and discomfort both runners have to go through to achieve their finish. In a conversation with Sandes, he confirmed, “This attempt is more about an experience and amazing adventure, it is a once-in-a-lifetime type experience‚ not just a record attempt and something that I have been able to share with a true friend.”
Leslie narrates, and he has a silky-smooth calm voice that kicks off the movie and its pace. We instantly go to Sandes describing the ‘why’ of the GHT and then we see Griesel.
“Did you push it too far?” Leslie asks Griesel.
“No, not at all,” the answer.
Their journey would take them from the Tibetan border all the way to the Indian border in the east. Fast and light was the ethos and they carried no sleeping bags or tents, reliant on the hospitality of the Nepali people.
“If you plan an adventure with no risk, you are way too much inside your comfort zone,” says Griesel.
And from here, the story unfolds.
Before the FKT started, they had already risked their lives on snow and ice and I was immediately thinking that they were unprepared for the challenge ahead! The film does not shy away from this and the duo explain the danger.
“It was really dangerous, a little stupid,” said Griesel and Sandes admits his lack of experience in this environment.
From the outset, one realizes that Griesel is along not only for the comradeship but for mainly for his navigation and mountain experience. Very quickly they are in extreme snow and ice that visibly shakes them up.
All the time, Leslie’s drone footage provides some amazing shots to Sande’s and Griesel’s GoPro footage.
Kids join them, and the ‘Namaste’ sounds provide a wonderful soundtrack to Sandes and Griesel’s footsteps. Leslie, correctly says in his narration, “Although the Himalaya has the most breathtaking landscape, it is the Nepali people that captures the heart.”
The conditions, the fast and light travel without doubt take a toll on the runners. The Dolpa region approaches and without doubt, fear takes hold. They manage to obtain ice axes and rope borrowed from the locals. They had to change route and with a late winter and poor conditions, the area was desolate. The duo was struggling and seriously worried.
Griesel trying to maximize his time with navigation makes a school boy error and removes his gloves.
From that point, Griesel knew his fingers had frostbite.
From here on in, the story changes.
With only 9 day’s covered, there was a long way to go and everything was looking in jeopardy. All the time, Leslie provides a narrative to the ‘real time’ narrative of Griesel and Sandes.
Griesel sits with his hands in a bowl – it makes for gruesome viewing, but the will to carry on existed though. Some good running, a change of clothes, some sun and suddenly all was looking good.
Annapurna region and Sandes turns 36 – what a way to spend a birthday!
Much of what follows is good and you feel a page has turned and then suddenly screams. Griesel falls and is injured. The story unfolds, and one begins to feel the pressure on the two of them and in particular, Griesel. He has feelings on failure and inadequacy in comparisons to Sandes natural running ability.
Let’s be clear hear, Griesel is turning into a hero.
“It is not an option to quit… If I have committed to go from A to B, that is what I am going to do,” says Griesel. “Whatever we do out there is an extension of our daily lives, if you get in the habit of quitting, if that is an option, that translates to daily life…” And it is here that you really begin to understand the character of the man – his strength, his courage and some would say, his vulnerability?
The film mixes narrative and footage from Griesel and Sandes and constantly the film is interspersed with post GHT interviews to provide perspective.
It is here that we start to ask, what are the Lessons from the Edge?
The dilemma of Leslie and Sandes is obvious.
“Do you pull the plug… It seems silly at this stage, it is just a run!” says Leslie.
The final third of the film explores many questions, one is quite haunting, “Are you prepared to go out and do one of these things and die?” Asks Leslie.
“Yes, pretty much,” responds Griesel.
To not push life to the full is a slow death anyway they say and as the footage rolls on, you are left pondering your own life questions as well as the questions that Griesel, Sandes and Leslie had to ask.
Two mates, crossing a country and drinking tea – they live life to the full and it is these endearing moments that concludes the film with Leslie’s thoughtful narrative.
What would you do, what are your Lessons from the Edge?
Salomon Running take things up a notch for the Salomon Running TV Season 5 Episode 1 with Paradise Lost.
It’s a departure for the running brand who in recent years have inspired and influenced us with a serious of beautiful and short films. The African Attachment (Dean Leslie and Greg Fell) have been instrumental in the visual look and feel of these images.
This is Salomons first project with #TAA co-founder Dean Leslie’s new production company Wandering Fever and marks the start of an exciting new journey.
Anna Frost has continued to inspire all of us with her no strings honesty; it is what makes her so approachable. It’s something that I personally have been able to witness at first hand. Paradise Lost gives a new insight into the inspiring lady we have all come to know as Frosty!
Enjoy this wonderful movie
[Full multimedia story http://runningtv.salomon.com/episodes…] Anna Frost takes some time out to journey to the highlands of Papua New Guinea to visit the place where she grew up. Anna’s adventure into her past is pause for reflection; the paths travelled, the races lost and won, a life on the road, as she searches for “home”.
A Film by Wandering Fever
A Production by The African Attachment
“Go Solo” by Tom Rosenthal – courtesy of Audio Network
“Sirens” by Ben Dey – courtesy of SM Publishing
“Stand in Line” by BANFF – courtesy of Create Control & We are Golden
“Portraits” & “Annika” – courtesy of Musicbox Licensing
Ryan Sandes is a modest and extremely giving person. Modest about his ability, one almost has to laugh when he says, “An impulsive decision one Sunday afternoon completely changed my life back in 2008. Could I run 250km, self-supported through a Desert? Without another thought, I maxed out my credit card and entered a race I knew almost nothing about. The lead up to the Gobi Desert Race consumed me but most importantly it enabled me to dream.”
Dream he did and look what has happened. He has won races on all continents, he is unbeaten in the four deserts, he has won Leadville 100, he was second at Western States 2012, beating Geoff Roes CR and loosing out to a flying Timothy Olson.
It is an incredible journey.
Ryan says, “I have worked damn hard to achieve my dreams, but I have always been in a fortunate position. What about the people who do not have the opportunities to make their dreams a reality?”
Way back when Ryan’s journey started, long time friends Dean Leslie and Greg Fell (The African Attachment) asked if they could document his story. What a coup. Nobody would have thought that a fil project called ‘Wandering Fever’ would actually document the rise of somebody to the pinnacle of the sport.
Now Wandering Fever has been a long term project, Dean, Leslie and Ryan have said many times… it won’t be long! Well, finally, it looks like the latter half of 2013 may well see the release of this highly anticipated film.
Ryan is extremely appreciative of his success and he wants to give back.
“I want to provide a base, a launching pad for people to reach out and grab their dreams with both hands and change their lives. I have decided to set up a Fund which will be distributed to individuals, charities or worthwhile causes, enabling people to LIVE their dreams.”
It is all about givingback to the community, and I for one am so pleased to here of this initiative.
“The “Wandering Fever Fund” is currently being setup and will be kick-started by 50% of all the profit made from the documentary Wandering Fever (which is due to be completed later this year). Wandering Fever has been a very raw and personal project for Dean, Greg (The African Attachment) and myself, and we all feel very strongly about giving back to the community that has given me so much.”
Ryan finishes off by saying, “It is up to us more fortunate people to share our opportunities with those less fortunate. If I could help only one person live their dream, then that in itself would be a dream come true for me.”
Big shout out here to my buddy, James at GoTrail for getting this incredible project off the ground and showcasing some of the best in trail movies.
I am eager to see the Marco Olmo film, ‘The Runner‘ but I am equally stoked to see that friends, Dean & Greg from The African Attachment will be showing ‘Collective Dreams‘. Collective Dreams is a film that delves into the professional world of trail running – a sport rapidly growing and changing around the world. At its core, trail running is a solitary pursuit born out of a love of the mountains. The film follows a group of individuals finding their way in this new professional world and, as they learn and gain experience, they are brought together by this common bond as a team and as friends.
The Trails in Motion Film Festival is a project aimed at creating an artistic and engaging platform to showcase the imaginative and awe-inspiring trail running film productions of both local and international film makers.
The objective is to not only capture the true spirit of trail running through the screening of high quality films and documentaries, but ultimately develop an exciting social and visual experience for everyone who shares a connection with the trail and a deep appreciation for the creative expression of others.
It has only taken four short years for ultra-marathon ace Ryan Sandes to rise to the very top of his game, earning the prestigious honor of winning all four of the 4Deserts events. He received this record-breaking accolade after a first place result in the Last Desert event in Antarctica at the end of 2010. The human running machine from South Africa led the 250km event from start to finish, battling challenging sub-zero temperatures and treacherous conditions with ice underfoot on the hilly course.
With his focus now shifted to some of the world’s premier single staged 100 kilometer and 100 mile endurance races, Ryan continues to work hard at achieving his goals, all the while maintaining the balance of life. More recently, Ryan’s achievements have included a win at the 2011 Leadville Trail 100, the 2012 TNF100 in Australia, a second place finish at the 2012 Western States 100 as well as a record breaking run through the Fish River Canyon in Namibia towards the end of 2012.
FILM LINE UP
Emilie Lecomte | portrait of a trail runner
Runtime: 6 minutes
Directed by: scenario-s.com
Produced by: Quechua & Montagne TV
Il Corridore | The Runner
Runtime: 52 minutes
Directed by: Paolo Casilas and Stefana Scarafia
Produced by: BODA’
Mountain Of Greatness
Runtime: 24 minutes
Directed by: Andrew King
Produced by: D4 Productions
Collective Dreams | The Documentary
Runtime: 26 minutes
Directed by: Dean Leslie
Produced by: Greg Fell
Marco Olmo – The Runner
Runtime: 52 minutes
Directed by: Paolo Casilas and Stefana Scarafia
Produced by: BODA’
Marco Olmo is a living legend of extreme ultra-running. In his “previous lives”, as he says, he has been a farmer, a truck driver and a workman. Running has became his reason for living, the way to take revenge on his hard destiny. At the age of 58 he has became Ultra-trail World Champion, winning the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc in France, the hardest and most important endurance race in the world. make no mistake about it, this is no easy feat: over twenty hours of uninterrupted running, 167 km (over 100 miles) and a circumnavigation of the tallest mountain in Europe. An almost unimaginable specialty, where mental and physical training and personal motivations are fundamental.
Despite age, physical problems and always younger and more prepared opponents, he doesn’t want to stop. For one year he prepares for the new edition of the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc. This competition, which for two consecutive times has consecrated him as the champion, could become the last of his career. Marco must win, to show himself that he can still do it.
This is his story.
If possible, you may want to check out this movie as part of the festival AFF 2012 (link here) – Endurance Adventure will take you across the world. From Antarctica, with the world’s first unsupported expedition to walk to the South Pole and back again, to ultra-running across five continents (as outlined below) and chasing the disappearing Colorado River.
5 Races 5 Continents
At the beginning of the 2011 trail running season Kilian Jornet set out to win five races on five continents. The lengths varied in distance, climate and altitude – from a 100 mile race in the scorching heat of the Sierra Nevada Mountains to the vertical ascent of South East Asia’s highest mountain in Malaysian Borneo, Mount Kinabalu.
Follow his experiences over the year, from the pressures of high-end competition to his unprecedented performance and success. This story is not just about what he has achieved, but rather what he has learnt from running in these surroundings and the emotions they bring. The film immerses itself in the trail communities around the world as Kilian and his teammates, friends and competitors try to understand the desire they have for the mountains and running.
For many, it is the simplicity of running, its meditative nature and the freedom it offers to explore new landscapes that drives their passion for the sport. 5 Races, 5 Continents is an inspirational ode to the beauty of trail running, a sport that is inherently simple and pure.
Dean Leslie is young South African Filmmaker and Co-Owner of Cape Town based independent film production company, The African Attachment. He has experience on a wide range of local and international productions and has worked as a producer, director, cinematographer, photographer and editor. He was the cinematographer for ‘Interviews Unit’ in the Academy Award nominated feature film, ’District 9’. He edited the International short film,‘Pumzi’, for Focus Features (USA) and Inspired Minority Pictures, which was won Best International Short at Cannes Independent Film Festival and was a favourite at the 2010 Sundance International Film Festival.He produced, directed and edited the critically acclaimed South African documentary,’12 Mile Stone’, alongside Greg Fell, and has directed a string of music videos for some of South Africa’s top bands including Die Heuwels Fantasties, The Parlotones, The Dirty Skirts, aKING andAshtray Electric. He is currently in post-production on his debut documentary feature film‘Wandering Fever’, a film that has seen him shoot on all 7 Continents over 4 years as he explores the idea of why we run through the story of South African elite ultra runner Ryan Sandes. Dean has a distinctive visual style and his projects have a strong narrative element layered with underlying themes and tones. His work has been widely praised for its cinematography, style and underlying mood – all testaments to Dean’s continued growth and progress as a Director. Taken from Vancouver International Mountain Festival.
Ryan Sandes has just set a new record for the Fish River Canyon in Namibia.
Fish River Canyon, Namibia
Ryan had to abandon his Fish River Canyon Trail Run record attempt in 2011 due to heavy rains. The record for the 85km trail run was originally set on the 13th of July 1990 by South Africans Ronnie Muhl and Bruce Matthews – both seasoned Comrades runners – in a time of 11hrs 42min. It was then beaten by 3 Namibian locals Russell Paschke, Charlie du Toit and Coenraad Pool on the 16th of August 2003 in a time of 10hrs 54min.
Not liking to be beaten, Ryan decided he would have another go at the record in August 2012.
Charlie du Toit is quoted as saying “This canyon is not for the faint hearted and an attempt to run it should not be taken light heartedly”.
Ryan had this to say:
“I know this challenge is going to extremely tough, especially coming off the back of my running the Western States 100miler in the USA at the end of June, but I can’t wait to get back into the canyon. The record attempt will be filmed by the African Attachment / Wandering Fever so I will keep everyone posted on where and when you can watch it,”
copyright Ryan Sandes
The Fish River Hiking Trail starts at Hobas and ends 85 kilometres (53 mi) further south at Ai Ais. The trail has no facilities and hikers usually fast pack through in 3 to 5 days. Ryan completed the trail in an impressive time just sneaking under 7 hours with a time of 6:57.
Due to flash floods and high summer temperatures which frequently exceed 45°C, the hike is only open in winter. The season starts 1 May and ends 15 September (winter time in the Southern Hemisphere).
Fish River Canyon
The Fish River Canyon is located in the south of Namibia. It is the second largest canyon in the world and the largest in Africa, as well as the second most visited tourist attraction in Namibia. It features a gigantic ravine, in total about 100 miles (160 km) long, up to 27 km wide and in places almost 550 metres deep.
The Fish River is the longest interior river in Namibia. It cuts deep into the plateau which is today dry, stony and sparsely covered with hardy drought-resistant plants. The river usually floods in late summer; the rest of the year it becomes a chain of long narrow pools. At the lower end of the Fish River Canyon, the hot springs resort of Ai-Ais is situated.
Upstream the river runs through horizontal dolomite strata. These strata formed part of the canyon about 650 million years ago when plate movement cracked the earth, the first process in the formation of the Fish River Canyon.
Lower down, a granite complex system is exposed to form a characteristic river bed that results in forms like Fingerspitze. In this area, a fault runs north-south, which accounts for the gorge-like channel and the presence of hot sulphurous springs.