Written by producer Dean Leslie
Around four years ago I was sitting at the Rucky Chucky river crossing at the Western States 100 waiting for Salomon athletes Ryan Sandes to come through. We got talking to a few of the guys there, and there was this guy Nick Triolo. He started telling us about this job he had just got as a trail coordinator for the lead singer of Death Cab for Cutie and The Postal Service, Ben Gibbard. He was effectively getting paid to go on tour with them and find cool trails and take Ben running, making sure that he returned him safely for the concert in the evening.
A bit later Trail Runner Magazine picked up the story and published a short piece on Nick’s experience. I had never pitched the idea as I never though Ben would agree to be a part of one of our films. At the end of 2014 I tentatively raised this as a possible story. Everyone jumped on it as an idea and wanted to try pull it off knowing full well that Ben would quite possibly never agree to it due to his manic schedule.
In the end it was really simple. We sent Nick an email and he very kindly mailed Ben on our behalf. Ben responded immediately saying he was a huge fan of the series and would love to be a part of it. It was that easy. We flew out to San Francisco in July 2015 and met up with Nick and then Ben the following day over on the Marin headlands where he was training for a 50-mile trail race later in the year. We spent a few days filming around San Francisco trying to fit it in to Ben’s schedule as best we could. We were shooting really quickly – 30-40 minutes of total shoot time per running sequence – which was pretty nerve-wracking. They gave us full backstage access to their concert at The Greek Theatre and then we followed them over to Colorado where we did much the same around the trails of Boulder before their gig at Red Rocks.
The day of the concert at Red Rocks, Ben went for a training run in Boulder with Joe Grant. They bumped into Timothy Olsen on the trails. He invited them all to the concert that evening – that is why you see shots of Timmy Olsen, Joe Grant and Anton Krupicka in the film. After Colorado we flew to Seattle were we spent some time on Ben’s local trails and he kindly invited us into his home where we filmed the interview.
While we were filming, Salomon athletes Anna Frost and Kilian Jornet were running Hard Rock and I remember all of us following the race online. It was a pretty phenomenal performance by both of them and we were all talking about it, including Ben. I don’t know why, but it made me realize something, especially about trail running: Socially, we tend to put people on pedestals, a sort of hero worship, but in the tight-knit trail running communities around the world there seems to be an equal sense of appreciation for both amazing feats of endurance and just being a good and decent human. It’s just such a good practice to have in your life and is a great unifier.
All-in-all it was quite a surreal, humbling experience. Ben was just like any trail runner—stoked to be able to move on his own two feet in the mountains.