Running man

Erick Thompson and Matt Fortuna make their way through the fog near Palmer's Pond during a 50-mile run on the HBC Brigade Trail in September 2019.

A trail-running documentary featuring a Summerland man and highlighting an important historic trade route has been accepted into the Toronto Short Film Festival.

“Fifty” chronicles Erick Thompson’s 50-mile run on HBC Brigade Trail, which winds through the Cascades Mountains backcountry from the Princeton area to Hope.

“It’s an outdoor trail-running film, but I believe this film is something people from all walks of life can appreciate: the idea of preparing for something and completing something that is challenging,” said Thompson.

After taking up running in 2010 as a way to stay in shape, Thompson decided to really challenge himself – as an athlete and filmmaker

He enlisted the help of friends from the running and film worlds to assist, and was accompanied by experienced trail-runner Matt Fortuna in September 2019, when they completed the test in 17 hours.

Thompson entered “Fifty” into the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival, which he described as a “benchmark” competition for such documentaries, but didn’t make the cut.

“The level of film that you’re competing against to get into these film festivals is very, very high: We’re talking films that are sponsored by Red Bull,” said Thompson.

Undeterred, he submitted it to a few other festivals, and was pleased to see it accepted in Toronto. It was supposed to screen March 17, but the festival was postponed as a result of the pandemic.

For now, “Fifty” lives online and can be found at www.et2media.com.

“This project was a team effort from start to finish. It came together thanks to the hard work of talented professionals working together to achieve a common goal,” said Thompson. “We hope the film inspires others to challenge themselves.”

The father of four is married to Summerland district Coun. Erin Trainer, with whom he owns a video production company. He trained for the challenge by running 50 to 60 kilometres per week, but doesn’t claim any special athletic ability.

“If you’re already running and you feel pretty good and you don’t have injuries, if you train like I trained, you can run 50 miles too,” he said.

The HBC Brigade Trail was built by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1849 with the help of local First Nations, whose traditional hunting and trade routes it follows.

It provided an important link between the coast and interior, and connected to other inland routes. The trail has been the subject of improvement efforts in recent years.