Running The Roof

An extreme running expedition across the ‘roof of the world’

Feature type Video

Read time 10 min read

Published Aug 18, 2021

Banff Mountain Film Festival

People make drunken bets all the time, but once the pint glasses are drained and the hangover sets in, these wagers can become a foggy memory. Something conveniently forgotten the following morning. There are few who would follow through on a bet that involves spinning a globe and travelling thousands of kilometres to wherever their finger lands – particularly when that destination ends up being Tajikistan, a part of the world that is unfamiliar to many. Even fewer would commit to running ultramarathon distances in remote, high altitude terrain, with extreme temperature swings .

Jody Bragger (JB) and his friends Gabriel Ghiglione and Jodie Gauld are not like most people. Running the Roof chronicles just what amazing adventures can occur when people turn their drunken ideas into reality. But while the bet was initially made between JB and Gabe, the pair quickly realised they couldn’t do it alone.

“We needed a tribe to bring this dream to life,” says Gabe. “So we reached out to our friends that live for the ‘out-there’ ideas: Jodie, our badass ultra runner friend from London and, of course, Ben and Alexis – a pair of mega-talented filmmakers who have the ability to make just about every situation more fun. Together, we became this crazy little team who weren’t going to be stopped.”

Because this bar bet was so ridiculous, I felt like it needed more attention

“Because this bar bet was so ridiculous, I felt like it needed more attention,” says JB. “It kind of encapsulated my mantra: if it’s not epic, it’s not worth doing.”

All of the group agree that without Jody, the trip wouldn’t have happened. In the weeks following their bet, he obsessively pored over maps of Tajikistan and ultimately plotted their border-to-border route, which followed the Bartang River through the stunning Pamir mountain range, ending at Lake Karakul. This challenge was not for the faint of heart – it covered roughly 400km in just seven days, with elevation gains of nearly 4,500m. Though JB and Jodie were seasoned long-distance runners, Gabe only had a handful of short distance races and one marathon under his belt prior to this expedition.

Going into the trip Jodie knew very little about their destination. “Like the others, I want to see the world and, embarrassingly, I hadn’t even heard of Tajikistan, so what better way is there to educate myself than exploring this place on two feet with friends?”

Once there she was “warmed by locals who were always very friendly, interested in what we were doing and clearly so proud and passionate about their country.” She reminisces, “I was also surprised at how delicious their homemade breads and jam were – I could have that every day for the rest of my life and be happy.”

Running The Roof will be playing as part of the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour. Check out the full festival programme here or for dates and tickets, click here.

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