CU screening endurance running documentary: ‘3100: Run and Become‘

A man who spent the early years of his childhood in Boulder has returned for screenings of his new documentary film, “3100: Run and Become.”

The director, Sanjay Rawal, follows the stories of two people in the Self-Transcendence 3100 Mile Race, a footrace in which runners lap a single block in Queens, N.Y., 5,649 times during a span of 52 days. They average 60 miles a day.

He also follows the stories of three endurance runners living around the world: a man, one of the San people, who runs to hunt in the Kalahari Desert in Southern Africa; a monk among the “marathon monks” in the highlands of Japan; and a man who is the organizer of the Canyon de Chelly 55k, billed as the only Navajo-owned and -operated ultra-marathon, also on Navajo land.

The film explores what motivates endurance runners and how running can be more than exercise or competition and can instead be a spiritual experience.

“Beyond competitiveness and athletic prowess, they run not for glory but for spiritual enlightenment, universal oneness — or because they simply have the responsibility to run,” Rawal wrote of his film.

Rawal said Shaun Martin, the Canyon de Chelly race organizer, told him that he runs because he sees running as a celebration of life, a form of prayer and a teacher.

“Shaun‘s an excellent runner in terms of the races he does, but every morning he does his run not for fitness, not to log the miles, not to prepare for a race — he runs every morning because he knows that it‘s going to make him a better person and that there‘s every possibility that he might have a really, really deep spiritual experience,” Rawal said.

Rawal himself is a runner, and he competed in 800-meter and 1-mile races and marathons, but became burned out on the sport. Through meeting Martin and making of the film, he said, he enjoys running again and doesn‘t treat it as a daily chore anymore.

He tries, like Martin, to treat running as a way to better himself and meditate.

“I can‘t say I do that perfectly, but that‘s totally changed my approach to running,” he said.

Rawal is in Colorado now for screenings in Boulder and Denver. His parents spent their early lives in India, but met through their jobs as professors in Nigeria, where Rawal was born. The family moved from Nigeria for teaching jobs at the University of Colorado in the late 1970s. His return to Boulder as a filmmaker to show his work in an on-campus auditorium is an important experience for his family, he said.

He also sees Boulder as a community receptive to the messages in the film.

“I‘m particularly excited about showing this film in Boulder, not just because of my connection here and my parents‘ connection here, but the reality of Boulder as a running mecca,” Rawal said. “People here push the absolute limits of performance but at the same in an environment that really inspires a deeper look at running. A lot of runners in Boulder and a lot of runners around the country will get something out of this film because the characters are, essentially, teachers in their own right.”

Rawal is in Boulder now, and he‘ll moderate panels of high-profile runners after the screenings. The first screening in Boulder was Tuesday night, and additional screenings are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. today in CU‘s Muenzinger Auditorium — it‘s showing as part of . Tickets are $8.

The film will also be screened multiple times a day Friday through Sept. 20 at Sie FilmCenter in Denver.

For more information about the schedule, find tickets or learn more about the film, visit: .