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December 2010

Human race

“Hood to Coast,” a documentary directed by Christoph Baaden '01 MFA, is coming Jan. 11 to more than 350 movie theaters across the country. The film follows four teams with various levels of athletic ability on their quest to conquer the world's largest relay race.

Originally from Germany, Christoph came to UNCG as an exchange student from the University of Mannheim. He has lived in the U.S. since returning as a graduate student in 1999. While earning a master's degree from the Department of Broadcasting and Cinema (now Media Studies), he won a Student Emmy for his thesis project. After graduating, Christoph moved to Los Angeles.

He had never heard of the race in Oregon before his wife and producing partner, Anna Campbell, convinced him to participate in 2007. The relay, held each August, covers 197 miles between Timberline Lodge on Mt. Hood, elevation 6,000 feet, and the seaside city of, well, Seaside. As soon as he arrived on the mountain, Christoph wanted to make the race the subject of his first feature film.

“I had no clue about the race, and I don't particularly like running,” Christoph told an interviewer at South by Southwest, where the film played in March to sold-out theaters. “But once I was in it, I realized there's something magical about this, for a non-runner like me to enjoy this and to meet so many great people.”

He and Anna enlisted the support of race organizers, assembled a creative team, found investors and narrowed the cast of characters to four teams of the 1,000 that participate each year. The documentary would follow the novices, the experts, the survival story and the story of a family healing in the 2008 race. They hired more than 100 crew members to record the teams and the race.

When the 12,000 runners had finished the race, Christoph and his editor had more than 500 hours of footage, which they whittled down to a 1 hour 45 minute film that The Huffington Post calls “one stunning sports film.” It is a sports film, but it's also much more.

“What I always envisioned for this film is that the hook is the race, but it's only the hook,” Christoph said at South by Southwest. “The story is that people are putting themselves into situations that test their limits and they want to find out something about themselves.”

The film will be screened in Greensboro at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 11, at the Regal Greensboro Grande, 3205 Northline Avenue. Visit to buy tickets or find a screening in your area.














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