On Sept. 29, Ethan Newberry posted on YouTube a 36-minute documentary called “Wonderland.” Within a week, more than 19,000 people viewed the story of Canadian ultrarunner Gary Robbin’s record-setting run around Mount Rainier’s Wonderland Trail.
Newberry, who lives in Los Angeles but grew up in Redmond and graduated from the University of Washington, has made a name for himself in the running world. That name is the Ginger Runner.
Newberry, with his trademark red hair, has figured out how to make a career out of his passion for running, even if he doesn’t have world class speed. He does run and he does runs well (He recently finished his first 100-miler in Easton), but he’s best known for telling the tales of his sport.
As Ginger Runner, he posts product reviews, first-person accounts of his runs, interviews with running celebrities and documentaries of others accomplishments. More than 42,000 people subscribe to his YouTube channel.
“Wonderland” tells the tale of Robbins obliterating the Wonderland Trail’s fastest known time by more than two hours in July. Robbins finished in 18 hours, 52 minutes.
As Newberry, the film’s director, producer and editor, put the finishing touches on the project he took a few minutes to talk about his project and his sport:
Q: How hard is it to film a project like this, considering the natural access limitations at Mount Rainier National Park?
A: Obviously Gary did all the hard work. We have the easy job of sorting through all the footage and trying to choose the most beautiful shots, which is not hard to do at Mount Rainier. It was a collaborative effort with (Vancouver, British Columbia, runner and filmmaker) Jeff Pelletier documenting the day because there is a lot we needed to capture. Obviously the Wonderland is such an incredible, incredible trail, but there is very little access for anybody trying to capture certain miles unless they actually trek in there. Having two cameramen able to run in there to capture footage made the process so much easier. Trying to keep up with Gary was the biggest challenge.
Q: Did you feel restricted not being able to use drones?
A: It would have been great to get in there and get some epic aerial footage, but to be totally honest I’m all in favor of limiting drone photography. As much as they are epic, beautiful shots, I’m not in favor of hovering a really noisy quad-copter over epic, beautiful locations and disturbing the peace. I don’t own a drone. It is not on my list of things to get anytime soon.
Q: What do you want people to take away from this?
A: The most important thing is Gary’s FKT (fastest known time) is a crazy-fast time. It’s not just, hey, he shaved off 12 minutes. It is two freaking hours off an untouchable time. That’s the goal and what I’m trying to showcase. Not just that Gary did it, but that Gary did it incredibly well. He just happened to nail the day. Everything was dialed in. It’s one of those human performances that I don’t know if anybody will ever be able to really give as much credit as is due. It is really an epic achievement. I hope this film somehow gets that across.
Q: How did you get in to this line of work?
I grew up in Seattle and I was a graphic designer and amateur comedian, and when I moved to Los Angeles it was about acting. As I started booking jobs when YouTube was just starting out, I realized there was this untapped potential to create my content however I wanted, whenever I wanted. It just blossomed from there. … One thing led to another and it became what it is now, a full-time job.
Q: What do you like most about the work?
A: I get to run on trails and document it. And document cool stories like Gary’s. There is nothing better than that. It’s a really amazing turn in my life and I could not have asked for a better opportunity. It’s really neat.