First off, I have a confession.
As a paraplegic/double amputee who regularly tackles long distance journeys in my wheelchair, I'm not sure, barring completely incompetent filmmaking, that it would have been possible for me to not enjoy Running Big, the directorial debut of David Gossard following 64-year-old Alan "Buck" Gossard as he attempts to complete the grueling Pikes Peak Ascent, a 13.1 mile trail race up Pikes Peak, followed by the possibly even more grueling Pikes Peak Marathon the very next day.
Can he do it? Why would he do it? How will he handle it if he can't finish, a very real possibility on a trail where even a single misstep can send one flying face first into a pile of very big and very sharp rocks?
I love this guy.
Gossard, who is known as "Buck" to his family and friends, lives here in the flatlands of good ole' Indiana and absolutely loves being outdoors. A couple of years ago, he announced to his family that he was going to attempt the Pikes Peak Ascent.
He successfully finished.
The following year, he announced that he would attempt the 26.2-mile Pikes Peak Marathon.
Again, he finished.
So, it kind of made sense, in a nonsensical way, that in 2015 he announced he would attempt "the double," both events that are held on back-to-back days.
I've wheeled to Chicago three times. I've wheeled to Lexington. I've wheeled to Cincinnati. Heck, just about 2-3 weeks ago I wheeled 49 miles in one day. I took one look at Pikes Peak in Running Big and thought to myself "There's no frickin' way."
There's always a way.
Buck is an unassuming guy and Running Big does a wonderful job of capturing both his determination and his tremendously humble nature. He says, quite beautifully, that running for him isn't about living longer. It's about living better. Everything he does, from leaning over to tie his shoes to using a push mower for 6-7 hours to mow his enormous lawn, is designed to enhance his fitness. Buck's focus isn't on winning events, but on pushing himself, doing his best and, when possible, beating his own personal records.
Nearly as inspirational as Buck's story is the support he receives from his family, most notably wife Debbie whose steady and encouraging presence is both matter-of-fact and heartwarming. Several of Buck's family members participated in the production of the film, including director David Gossard (though Buck himself is credited as co-director), editing assistant and camera operator Jane Gossard, production assistant and camera operator JeanMarie Gossard, and Cindy and Scott Galley, who assisted with logistics, Buck's training, served as camera operators and housed, fed and transported the film's crew.
Running Big is, without question, an inspirational and super duper feel good film without all the usual techno-histrionics designed to force you to feel something. It doesn't need gimmicks. It has Alan "Buck" Gossard. Trust me, that's enough.
Running Big is screening as part of the Special Hoosier Shorts block and as part of the A Good Sport shorts block, the short film is in competition amongst the Hoosier Lens shorts. The film has already screened once in the festival and is screening on July 20th at 7pm in the Indianapolis Museum of Art's Toby Theatre and on July 21st at 3pm in DeBoest Lecture Hall. For more information, visit the Indy Film Fest website.
Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic