A documentary film about six runners training for life-changing challenges is set to be screened in Laramie this weekend, in advance of widespread release later this month.
“The Human Race” is scheduled to screen at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Gryphon Theatre, 710 Garfield St. Admission is free. The event will include a short talk by film subject and Laramie resident Helene Neville, as well as a question-and-answer session.
Neville, who moved to Laramie about a year ago and works as a nurse at Laramie Care Center, is currently training for a summer run across Alaska — her 50th state — which would mark the first time anyone has ever run across every state.
“The Human Race” follows runners older than 50, including Neville, training for a variety of events, each with a different challenge, a different training method and a different reason for competing. It was directed by Liz Vassey.
The film is scheduled to be released for sale Jan. 8, and Neville said it’ll appear on Netflix at the end of January. Otherwise, its screenings have been limited to a couple events.
“It’s showed in Hollywood and at the New York City Marathon, and then in little old Laramie, which is a treat,” she said.
Don Goff, who created a traveling art piece called “Flag for Hope Project,” will introduce Neville, who is included in the project. The Flag for Hope features 50 stars, each representing an American who was chosen for service to others or an individual achievement.
“It’s perfectly positioned to inspire everybody for the new year, and we get to see it before the world does,” Neville said of the documentary screening.
Neville began her record-setting journey in 2010, as a 50-year-old cancer survivor, when she decided to run 2,500 miles from California to Florida over 93 days. In 2013, she ran from Mexico to Canada, then in 2014, she ran from Florida to Maine. In 2015, she ran from Maine to the Washington coast.
On each run, she relied on strangers to drop her off each morning, drive her Isuzu Trooper ahead along the day’s route and sometimes provide meals or a bed.
“Imagine, over 12,800 miles, having to find somebody to help me every day to drop the car,” she said in an earlier interview. “I was able to get around America because people helped.”
She supported her runs by selling T-shirts and books, and her accomplishments drew the attention of media outlets around the country.
In 2017, after a cancer remission, Neville ran 4,000 miles through the remaining states in the interior of the continental United States, starting with Wyoming. She began in Evanston in March and quickly encountered debilitating altitude sickness, along with a nasty spring blizzard.
“It took me 30 days to get out of here because I was so sick,” she said of her Wyoming crossing.
She said Wyomingites, from strangers in towns to the Wyoming Highway Patrol, were the friendliest and most helpful of anyone she encountered anywhere on her journey. Neville decided to move to Laramie at the completion of that leg because of that hospitality.
She’s currently one of just a couple of people known to have run through every state in the continental United States, the first woman to do so and the first to do it self-supported.
Last fall, she traveled to Hawaii to run 130 miles around the perimeter of Oahu, checking off her 49th state. It wasn’t easy, she said, perhaps because of the heat and humidity that she wasn’t used to.
“It was really hard,” she said. “Every day, it was like running up a hill with a bag full or rocks over my shoulders.”
In preparation for her trip to Alaska in April, she’s training two or three times a day with weights and running when she’s not working 12-hour shifts at the nursing home.
“I plan to be in phenomenal shape,” she said.
She said she’s hoping the film inspires others to work on their own dreams.
“It’s going to be a real treat to share the inspiration with the community I’m a part of,” she said.