Thursday, 16 December 2010

Going Long, Going Hard: DVD Review

Going Long, Going Hard: DVD Review

Going Long, Going Hard
Released by Stormy Dog Productions
Rating: G
As you get ready to batten down the hatches for the onslaught of the rellies over Christmas, believe it or not, there are actually some who are suffering worse conditions during the break.
They are the endurance athletes who take part in Epic Camp - a nationwide event which runs from the very top of Cape Reinga to the very tip of Bluff over 16 days of the Christmas period.
It's the idea of former world Ironman champion Scott Molina - and this independently shot and filmed doco follows some of the world's top Ironman athletes - and average punters as they pit their wits and skills against the wilds of Aotearoa.
We follow the group of some 22 athletes from all around the world - some are lawyers, some are professional athletes. But all of them are after something special offered by the camp experience; whether it's the camaraderie or the simple effort of completing the 2500 km journey, it's clearly something they'll never forget - or outsiders will fully understand.
The non-intrusive style of the doco, coupled with some beautifully shot New Zealand landscape panoramics, encapsulate why some travel from all over the world to take part.
The doco follows the athletes as they run, bike and swim the programme. With a pulsing wild drum soundtrack and the dulcet tones of former ONE Sport presenter Geoff Bryan, Going Long, Going Hard is an intriguing look at the psychology of why - and how they do it. With highs and inevitable lows (bikes breaking, support vehicles failing), the piece zips along as it negotiates the punishing nationwide route.
With snippets of interviews of those involved - including the support crew, you can get (almost) the full experience of being a part of this.
But one minor problem is that with 22 athletes, it's difficult (and nigh on impossible) to get to know every single one of them because of the doco's 50 minute running time.
And it's because of that, that you feel ever so slightly removed from the fully intimate nature of this. It's a shame that you maybe don't get to follow one athlete - amateur or pro - from beginning to end and get their reactions to really invest in the reasons and psychology of why people push themselves so hard.
There's also an intriguing part which shows the group of relatively tight athletes splintering and a pack mentality manifesting itself on one athlete- which to an outsider is interesting but is left a little dangling.
But those are minor niggles in the main doco; and one of them is more than made up for in the extra features - thanks to footage from the cameras given to the athletes during the camp. Those extra insights fully flesh out the characters and their motivations for doing it (and therefore provide you with an idea of what kind of person does this).
Noticeably accessible to all for a sports doco, and definitely watchable, Going Long, Going Hard may appeal a little more to the sports fans among you; but to the casual viewer, it's a tantalising peek into a world many of us may never feel we may excel in.

Rating: 7/10

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