Starting in Squaw Valley, California near the site of the 1960 Winter Olympics and ending 100.2 miles later in Auburn, California, Western States, in the decades since its inception in 1974, has come to represent one of the ultimate endurance tests in the world.
Following the historic Western States Trail, runners climb more than 18,000 feet and descend nearly 23,000 feet before they reach the finish line at Placer High School in Auburn. In the miles between Squaw Valley and Auburn, runners experience the majestic high country beauty of Emigrant Pass and the Granite Chief Wilderness, the crucible of the canyons of the California gold country, a memorable crossing of the ice-cold waters of the main stem of the Middle Fork of the American River, and, during the latter stages, the historic reddish-brown-colored trails that led gold-seeking prospectors and homesteading pilgrims alike to the welcoming arms of Auburn.
For more than four decades, Western States has been home to some of the sport’s most stirring and legendary competitions, and has spurred the capacity of spirit of all runners, of all abilities and from all walks of life, from all over the globe.
With more than 1,500 dedicated volunteers, offering the sport’s oldest and most prized possession – a sub-30-hour finisher’s bronze belt buckle or a sub-24-hour finisher’s silver belt buckle – and owning 100-mile racing’s richest and most compelling history, Western States remains one of the undisputed crown jewels of human endurance.
For more info on the race, please visit http://www.wser.org
The Athlete: Ashley Lindsey
Ashley Lindsey is a Santa Cruz, California native. She ran her first Ultra marathon in 2010, the Headlands 50M. From there she was hooked on the extreme sport. She entered the lottery for the Western States 100M Endurance Run the next year and got in on her first try. She reluctantly agreed to have her longtime friend Andy Hofman and his small film crew follow her and tell her story, which eventually became Solstice. Since then she’s completed many more Ultras across the country.
For Ashley, every race has stories and lessons worth sharing, but some of her most memorable races include Fat Dog 120M (Canada, 42:42:31), the Western States 100M (CA, 28:35:04), Pine to Palm 100M (OR, 30:28:26), and the Bishop High Sierra 100k (CA, 14:32:42). Besides exploring the trails and working hard, the proud mother of two also enjoys dancing, reading, painting, good food and music. She loves her family, friends, and good times, and is always on the move.
She sums up her passion for Ultra running in the following way: “I love so many things about the sport: the supportive community, the beautiful mountain trails and fresh air, the EPIC views, the solitude and the freedom, and yet a deep connection with something larger. With every Ultra experience, I learn more about life and the human spirit and what it means to endure. I run because I can, and I do it for those who can’t.”
The Western States was an especially difficult race to cover, due to the inaccessibility of the course and brutal weather conditions at the summit of Emigrant Peak. With a crew of just three shooters it was a long, taxing day, but it was so inspiring witnessing these people pushing themselves beyond what seems possible. From the race itself to the epic scenery the runners pass through to the atmosphere created by ordinary people doing amazing things, it was an awesome experience which the film hopes to give a small bit of justice.
Andy Hofman – Producer / Director / Editor
Andy Hofman is an independent filmmaker who is an anomaly in the production world… the projects he loves working on most are usually designed, at least in part, to inspire people who watch to go out and do something instead of live their life through what they see on TV or their computer.
He believes storytelling through images and sound is one of our highest art forms, and when used in a positive way it can enrich our lives. But he also believes that people get sucked into TV and videos so easily that it can be a huge detriment to real life experience. He hopes to continue growing as an artist and to keep using the power of cinema to push people outside of the their comfort zones, and to live a life full of direct, not mediated, experience.
With Solstice, Andy hopes to challenge the audience to consider, and hopefully attempt, something they always felt was impossible to achieve in their own life.
Matt Hofman – Director of Photography
Matt Hofman has been working in the production world since 2005. He brings a wide skill set to the job, but his passion and primary focus is his work as a director of photography.
Matt has worked in many different genres of video production, including sports, documentary and corporate video. Some of his clients include CrossFit, NPGL, FLW Outdoors, Intuit, Flextronics, Ebay, Paypal, and many others. His video work has been broadcast on major TV networks such as NBC Sports, ESPN, Versus, Fox Sports Net, The NFL Network and Fuel TV.
In addition to his work in video production, Matt is an accomplished nature and wildlife still photographer, and sells fine art prints of his work at matthofmanphotography.com.
Rory Clendon – Composer
Accomplished musician with 20+ years experience. Born and raised in Santa Cruz, California and began playing guitar at 16 years old. I have various influences from different genres such as: John Fruiscante, Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, Dave Navarro and many others who have contribuited to my style of playing. Over the course of my career I have played in everything from rock bands, funk bands an ACDC cover band and currently play with local island reggae favorites One A-Chord from the Monterey Bay, who recently had top charting singles in Hawaii and also completed an 18 city tour with Maoli and Jordan T. In addition to my work as a guitarist, I have also been writing, producing and recording my own music for years. My latest endeavor is completing the entire original score for the film “Solstice” produced by Andy Hofman.
Andrea Alheit – Associate Producer
Andrea Alheit joined the Solstice Team to provide administrative support for the film, working alongside the Director to coordinate strategy development and implementation. Although new to the production industry, Andrea has over ten years of business management experience bringing organization and a fresh perspective to the Solstice Team.