Trail Running Film Fest Coming to Your Area: with James Varner

James Varner – Trail Running Film Fest 2018

James Varner is Founder of the first traveling Trail Running Film Festival in the United States, which, in addition to a 3-day festival in Seattle, will be stopping at over 40 cities this fall.

This week’s guest is one busy guy. He is the owner and co-race director of Rainshadow Running whose races feature some of the most beautiful and challenging trail ultras in the American Northwest.  He also organizes outdoor activity and a music festival with the group Outdoor Arts & Recreation. And somehow he finds time to actually do some ultra trail running himself.

James Varner Krivac Ales RTTT

Nature Photo credit: Krivac Ales

Trail running, trail films, music fest, and brew

James Varner started ultra running in 2001 and started organizing races in 2004. His love of trail running and it’s community led him to the idea of an annual travelling film festival featuring some of the best trail running films and how it has branched out into music and arts festivals, which also include the opportunity for various outdoor activities.

Film fest traveling from northwest to southeast US and many places between

In this episode, we learn about James’s running roots, how he pretty much stumbled into the festivals he organizes and how the films are selected and presented. His passion for the outdoors and being active is as clear as the view on a sunny sky on the Pacific Crest Trail. Hopefully you’ll be able to catch the film festival tour near you and maybe, just maybe, you’ll be inspired to try a new kind of running in a breathtaking location.

“Our mission is to combine the arts and outdoor recreation in really fun and creative ways”

Questions James is asked:

2:31 First Four:

  1. How old are you?
  2. Where were you born?
  3. Where do you live now?
  4. What is your favorite race distance or type of race?

7:54 What was your introduction into Ultra Trail Running?

11:11 Was doing the Appalachian Trail the beginning of a major life change for you?

13:03 How did you start organizing trail running film festivals?

19:34 How do you select the films for your festivals?

23:35 What about the film with Kim Newbury on the Oregon Coast 50k?

28:21 What made you pick the film about Allen Currano on the John Muir Trail?

32:30 What about some of this year’s films and featured runners?

36:04 How do you feel about being involved in this whole process?

38:27 In what cities will the festival be in this year?

40:27 Who do you partner with on these?

42:46 What is your overall message about running?

47:45 Final Kick Round:

  1. What is your favorite local training run (location, starting point, parking, distance, terrain and safety issues)?
  2. Favorite running book(s)?
  3. Words of Wisdom or Humor?
  4. Who or what would you like to have featured on the Run To The Top podcast?

Quotes by James:

“The community of backpackers was very welcoming. You get to spend a lot of time with them out on the trail and get to know each other and the same thing can happen during a long trail run.”

“You know a lot of times we come together under the pressure of a race or for a group run or a training run. So this is one of those rare nights where your watching other people run, listening to other people’s stories, but you’re with your friends and meeting new people.”

“We have a 50K  race in Colorado that has 19,000 feet of elevation gain. And we give our runners up to 19 hours to finish the race, which is more than double what we would give for a ‘really hard’ race. And the course record is over 14 hours”

“I like the idea of inspiring people to do things that they might not have done before or to go to places they might not have gone otherwise.”

“Each day you go out for a run, it’s different.”

“Our mission is to combine the arts and outdoor recreation in really fun and creative ways and to try to increase the access for folks who are challenged with getting outdoors or participating in the arts.”

Take a Listen on Your Next Run

Want more awesome interviews and advice?
Subscribe to our iTunes channel

Mentioned in this podcast:

Run To The Top Winners Circle Facebook Community

RunnersConnect Facebook page


Rainshadow Running

Outdoor Arts Recreation Festivals

Allen Currano / John Muir Trail interview on Run To The Top

Article on Buzz Burrell and FKT

Article on Peter Bakwin, Trail Runner

Hart’s Pass to Rainy Pass Trail

Heather – Maple Pass Loop

Book: Daniels’ Running Formula by Jack Daniels, PhD

Book: The Emerald Mile by Kevin Fedarko

Kaytlyn Gerbin Post-2018 Western States 100 Interview

Follow James on:

James’s Facebook Page

Rainshadow Running’s Facebook Page



James’s Blog

We really hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of Run to the Top.

The best way you can show your support of the show is to share this podcast with your family and friends and share it on your Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media channel you use.

If more people who know about the podcast and download the episodes, it means I can reach out to and get through to the top running influencers, to bring them on and share their advice, which hopefully makes the show even more enjoyable for you!

Thank you to our sponsors for supporting Run to the Top


Flavanaturals is a brand of chocolate and cocoa powder with five to nine times the cocoa flavanol antioxidants of a typical dark chocolate bar. These increased levels are shown to support exercise performance, brain function and heart health. For a limited time we’ve put together and awesome 20% discount for you so you can try them yourself. Just go to and enter discount code RTTT for the 20% off your next order.

Have a running friend who would love this? Share it...

Connect with Jeff Gaudette on Google+

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Adding new comments is only available for RunnersConnect Insider members.

Already a member? Login here Want to become an Insider for free?.Register here