How gnarly is the Leadville Trail 100 mountain bike race? Plenty gnarly, and if you're not among the hardcore to have completed the grueling race, you can get your gnar vicariously through Citizen Pictures' 2009 documentary Race Across the Sky and the forthcoming sequel documenting the 2010 race (see trailer after the jump).
After the huge success of their 2009 film (Lance Armstrong won the race), the Denver-based production company went all-out this year, and is planning a national one-day theatrical release in 500 theaters in the U.S. and Canada on November 4 through Fathom Events. The Denver event (stay tuned for details) will feature a live roundtable discussion with many of the athletes, broadcast by satellite to participating theaters.
The race, which starts at 10,200 feet in Leadville and tops out at 12,570 feet at the Columbine Mine, has become a proving ground for endurance athletes and mountain bike fanatics. Even with Armstrong out of the picture this year, Race Across the Sky 2010 Leadville Trail 100 director Frank Matson found plenty of stories to tell, including the story of Armstrong's teammate Levi Leipheimer, who smashed Armstrong's previous course record this year, and the story of Rebecca Rusch, who set a new women's course record and finished 22nd overall, beating out most of the top male competitors.
"This isn't just a movie about a bike race," says Tom Flanagan, a spokesperson for Citizen Pictures. "It's more about why people do what they do, why they go to such great lengths to overcome their own limits. Rebecca Rusch, by the way, she calls herself the Queen of Pain. Remember when finishing a triathlon was a big deal? Or running a marathon? With these endurance sports, you just keep seeing things get crazier and crazier every year, and it's fascinating."
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Speaking of pushing human limits, Erik Weihenmayer - the blind climber who made headlines for reaching the summit at Mount Everest in 2004 - plays a prominent role in the 2010 film: He competed in this year's event with a partner, riding on a tandem mountain bike.
"Endurance sports are the new Everest," says Flanagan. "You think you've seen the impossible, with a story like Lance's, and then somebody comes along and smashes his record one year later and you realize that we haven't even gotten close to the peak of what's possible yet."
For more on the film and the November 4 premiere events, visit www.RaceAcrossTheSky.com