Well so much for planning on updating the website with regular behind the scenes updates. Nevertheless, now is always better than never. Here is a recent update I sent out to all of our Indiegogo supporters on Saturday night. Since they are our first supporters and purchasers of the film it only makes sense that they got to see it first (3 days left on the Indiegogo campaign, hint hint), but I wanted to share it with the rest of you tonight.
There has been some absolutely crazy and amazing things happen since this post! But I'll save that for the next update. Thanks for following along!
Here's the update I sent them...
I should apologize. I haven't been updating you guys nearly enough on this campaign and for that I hope you guys will forgive us. We've been updating our Facebook page daily, but as our earliest fans and core supporters you guys definitely deserved a good update much sooner than today.
So here it is. Drew started his attempt of the speed record on June 10. We literally arrived at the hotel that we were leaving from at 3:30am and got up to start filming Drew at 5:30am. The weather sucked. It was raining and cold as we started our hike up to Mt. Katahdin to film Drew’s start. It was an awesome shot, almost killed me to get it, but Drew and I were sitting in the rain clouds as he started his first attempt. Yes, first attempt. After 2.5 days Drew had to come off the trail due to both of his crew vehicles being broke and neither looking to be fixed in time for him to continue.
As I sat in the hotel room with him I told him he should start over again, it was just 2.5 days and 88 miles. Easy for me to say, I wasn't hiking it. Luckily, he listened, regrouped over the weekend and started again on the top of Katahdin at 7:22am on July 17. I gave him a GoPro this time. One hike to the top of Katahdin per month was good enough for me.
Day 2 of his attempt the pop up camper that he had bought over the weekend breaks. Todd and I went to see if we could fix it while Drew was hiking. The pop up was toast. The wires that pop the camper up had frayed in half. It would need to be completely rewired. Amy and Susan who had been crewing Drew were done. Their stress level had been maxed out. So I offered to Drew that if he wanted to keep going I would crew him. We had a pop up, vehicles and Helen could cook meals for him. I sat in the lobby of the hotel with Todd waiting for Drew to decide. That was the 2nd time I wondered if the documentary would be over. Luckily, we are filming a determined man. Despite his flaws, he doesn't give up easily.
Beginning July 19th, we officially become the crew of a speed record attempt of the A.T. Never in all my life did I think I would crew someone trying to beat a record. But it is a pretty fun thing to say you checked off the ol' bucket list.
The first week through Maine was really tough. Most of the roads are poorly maintained logging roads and we did not have the proper vehicles for driving on them. But we made it and never missed Drew at any road crossings that we tried to get to. Got lost a lot, but always ended up having enough time to back track and still meet him.
Then came New Hampshire. Everybody kept telling us that the Whites were the hardest part of the whole trail. I don't know if that is true or not because I didn’t hike any of the trail. But I will say they kicked our butt pretty bad. The lack of sleep and trying to manage a film crew and crew Drew was catching up to me. I didn't catch that the road up to Mt Washington closed at 5pm until standing in the parking lot with Drew at 4pm at the stop right before his climb up Mt Madison that leads to Mt Washington. Drew decided to go back to the camper, sleep for 7 hours and get back on the trail right after midnight. He would then treat the next Friday and Saturday like a 48-hour race and make up for the lower miles on Thursday.
It was a risky plan but a plan that made sense. The reality is time is time. It doesn't matter when he is asleep or awake as long as the miles average out at the end of the week. It was a beautiful day on Friday, amazing views from Mt Washington. Drew was making good time over the Presidential Range that I almost thought he was going to beat me to the next stop. But then we got there and waited...and waited...and waited. Drew finally appears and hobbles over to the car. He had pulled something in his knee, right under his kneecap. What I had been telling him the whole time was just try to get through the Whites without hurting yourself. You can make up the miles later. Well, so much for that. A PT friend of his told him he needed to ice it and let it rest for 8-12 hours. Drew struggled with the decision but decided he should so he wouldn’t hurt it worse and cause long lasting damages. As I checked him into a hotel near the trail and headed to the campground an hour away I thought for the 3rd time, I wonder if this is the end of the documentary. I had done the math already before he hurt his knee. He was going to have to average some crazy miles after the Whites to beat the record, over 65 a day. But with his injury now and stopping early when he needed to make up for the early stop on Thursday, it jumped up even more. In my mind before the injury I thought that if he could just keep pace, he could do 80+ miles each day the last week and beat the record. But now, he needed multiple 100-mile days, and he might not even be able to walk tomorrow.
When I arrived the next day Drew knew it too. The record was over. Outside of a miracle from God, which we do believe in and His miracles, the record isn't going to happen. It was a really defeating moment. I drove him back to the trail and encouraged him to do at least the 30ish miles to get to the campground. It would then be Sunday and we would have a day off to figure out what to do next. Luckily, his knee did feel a bit better and so he trudged off into the mountains. Right off the bat, the section started with a steep climb.
When I got to all the crew at the campground I told them that Drew was in a rough place and really needed a happy, full of joy crew to encourage him and pick his spirits up so whatever we all needed to do to get ourselves in good moods we needed to do it. Drew emerges instead from the woods in an amazing mood. He starts telling me about all the things God taught him while he was hiking and that maybe what people need to see through this documentary is a Christian following after God and failing miserably. And that maybe in that failure is the message and the story that God is trying to tell. We are all so paralyzed by fear. But how bad is it really? And if God asks us to do something for Him and we try as hard as we can but still come up short and fail miserably, does God think we failed? Or is God proud of us for trying and giving it our all? God knows when we are going to succeed and fail at what He asks and yet He still asks on the times He knows we are going to fail. We so often measure our success by outcomes and forget that God measures us by our efforts.
I'm reminded of a quote by Teddy Roosevelt, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
We have continued to film Drew since that Saturday. We are still filming a movie about a guy attempting to break a record that he has already lost over two weeks ago. A good question at this point would be why? And I think that question is why I wanted to write this update. I believe the world needs to see someone continue to give everything they have till they have nothing left to give. Tonight I sit here after informing Drew that he is out of money. Because of the broken RV, broken cars, broken popup, and campgrounds that we never planned on needing to stay at every night the funds have gone quicker than we planned.
This is now the 4th time I have wondered if this is the end. Each time the odds are pretty good that it is. And yet here we still are, one obstacle after another and Drew has made it to another Sunday. To be honest this is a better story than beating the record. Although that story would have been awesome and I would have loved to have filmed it (let me know next time Jennifer). This story, the story full of failure after failure and one obstacle after another, but then still getting back up, brushing off the dirt and moving forwards is a story that all of us can relate to. It's the story of Rocky instead of Michael Phelps. We can't all be winners, we can't all be record holders, but we can all get back up, dust ourselves off and get back on the trail.
I hope this encourages all of you in some way or another. I hope that whatever hardship, struggle or failure you are facing in life right now that the story of Drew Burnett failing at the speed record attempt gives you the strength to get up and keep moving forward. I believe that the documentary that you have helped support through this campaign will tell that story and will help those of us in life who come up short despite our best efforts. Because the truth is that barely any of us will ever set a record, but all of us will fail.
Since you guys are our first supporters, the first fans of the film, I felt that you deserved a little sneak peak into the story that you have helped give us the opportunity to capture. But I also wanted you to know that your support has mattered. What started as a film about athletic accomplishment has turned into a much more important story for so many people across the world. Because of you it has been possible to capture the story.