Movie Review: “3022 ft:” The story of Mt. Marathon

“3022 ft.” is the story of Mt. Marathon, Alaska’s legendary 4th of July mountain race that’s drawn racers to Seward for over a century…

No, that’s not quite right.

“3022 ft.” is the story of fiery passion and redemption; of people who, to outsiders, seem like maniacs who have sold their souls in an Ahab-like fervor to the mountain. This race has helped bring redemption to those who have hit rock bottom, drive to succeed in the face of incredibly taxing odds, and danger to those who seek it. It’s a race only for the bold, and not for the faint of heart. A competition truly worthy of the gigantic and wild state it takes place in.

That is the essence of “3022 ft,” a documentary from local independent filmmaker Max Romey. And it’s going to make you either want to explore the mountain, or avoid it at all costs, depending on how fit you are.

While the film does touch on the race’s history a bit, the real focus on the film is on last year’s race, and the struggles of several participants over the years. That, I feel, is the film’s only real fault, and it’s only a fault for some. While the film excels at capturing the drama of participating in the race (and winning, in a couple cases), it fails to capture Mt. Marathon’s rich history, and for those looking for something more comprehensive, that may be a letdown.

However, the rest of the film is very well put-together. The mountain is shot gloriously, as it deserves to be. Often, the camera follows the racers, and it always moves with either grueling sluggishness during the long, uphill climb, or with speedy exhilaration during the fast downhill run. And because of the oddly hot temperatures of last summer, you can really feel the exhaustion when you see a participant desperately running in the heated distance.

And that exhaustion is felt even more with the film’s gripping narratives. “3022” highlights several racers on their journeys; newcomers, veterans, parents and children are all featured. It explores the race and its features through the eyes of these racers, and it’s an enjoyable and dramatic perspective.

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Of course, the best way to experience Mt. Marathon is to go there yourself, but if you’re lazy like I am, the film makes for a stellar substitute. And while it’s no longer showing at the Bear Tooth, watch it on a big screen if you can; the mountain deserves it in all her majesty. The marathon is rife with stories and characters, and if you somehow don’t know the story of Mt. Marathon, this is a great way to get hyped for it.

And go see the race on the fourth if you can; it’s a lot of fun.