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The trail running community will get its day in the spotlight with the new Burning River Film Festival, which debuts Oct. 23 at the Akron Civic Theatre, starting at 4:30 p.m.
Jessica Croisant, a Stow resident and the event organizer, said there are three to five short films planned for screening, plus a longer feature film.
"A portion of the proceeds will benefit the Conservancy for the Cuyahoga Valley National Park," she said. "It's our way of giving back to the beautiful trails we love so much. My goal for The Burning River Film Festival is to celebrate the amazing trail running community we have right here in Northeastern Ohio. From group runs on Thursday nights in the CVNP, beer around a camp fire, volunteering at a race, and weekend long runs in the woods through mud, rocks, and creeks: trail running is truly a team sport."
Croisant called the films and the sport "inspiring."
"They showcase gorgeous landscapes, incredible people, and stories of overcoming huge obstacles to accomplish unbelievable things," she said. "There is nothing easy about running 100 miles through forests, creeks, deserts, and mountains and one comes out of each race transformed. While running may seem like a single person sport, and it can be, running an ultra marathon, be it a 50 kilometer, 50 miler, 100 miles and even beyond, truly takes the work of an entire community. It's the aid station volunteers serving runners ramen noodles at 3 a.m., it's the mom sitting alone on some remote jeep road ringing a cow bell, the Race Director that's checked, double checked, and checked again the miles of course markings so that no runner gets lost, it's how you give the guy you just met an hour ago your last energy gel, and the smile on the face of a friend that's waited hours in the rain just to see you cross the finish line. Those people are what inspired me."
The films will not be the only attraction at the event, Croisant said. Another highlight: what better event for a festival dedicated to running than a run?
"There will be a group trail run and hot apple cider in the morning sponsored by Vertical Runner and Saloman Running," she said. "The doors at the Civic open early at 4 p.m. where many local vendors, organizations, and race directors will have booths for guests to check out. They'll be live music by the Wayand Brothers Band, signature drinks from Watershed Distillery, tacos from Barrio, sweets from Ms. Julies Kitchen, and even custom art by Akron's own Courtney Cable. That's all before the movies even start."
In addition, according to information provided by the Akron Civic Theater, there will be a special question and answer session from athletes and leaders from the trail running community before the films are screened.
Croisant said she also aimed to give new filmmakers a chance for their work to be seen. Her inspiration for the film festival came when she was at a running event.
"I was volunteering at the Mohican 100-miler this last June and meet a young film maker, Spencer Shewbridge," she said. "He came out from under a drainage ditch with a camera and came to ask me who I was there to support. I laughed and told him everyone. We will be premiering Spencer's first trail running film about that Mohican 100 race at the Burning River Film festival."
In addition to her job as operations manager at a retail company, Croisant said she also has a regular podcast, The Sugarstride Podcast, and have a running club called Eat Clean Run Dirty.
"We have free group runs in Cleveland and Akron," she said. "All are welcome and there is usually beer afterwards."
Tickets are available at the Akron Civic Theatre box office, by calling 330-253-2488 or online at www.akroncivic.com.