The sleepy town of Buea in the Southwest Province of Cameroon hosts Africa’s most grueling footrace: the Mt. Cameroon Race of Hope, a marathon-length sprint 10,000 feet up a live volcano, and back down again.
To conquer the mountain, racers must overcome some of the cruelest conditions in sport: temperatures fluctuate 50 degrees, altitude sickness claims the weak, and loose volcanic stones can cause serious injury, and even death, as runners fly back down the mountain.
Volcanic Sprint takes you deep inside the lives of athletes like Sarah Etonge, a five-time champion and mother of seven known as the Queen of the Mountain. Just days before the race, Sarah is haunted by a nagging knee injury and the strain of a hospitalized child. Sarah needs the money she earns from racing to support her children and the Race of Hope is the biggest purse in Cameroon.
For these competitors, Mt. Cameroon isn’t just a race. It’s their best shot at achieving fame and fortune in a country short on both. For former champion John Ekema, it’s a chance to relive fading glory through his son. For two-time champion Dominique Tedjiozem, attacked by rivals during the 2002 race, it’s a chance for vengeance.
All the competitors’ hopes and aspirations come together on the biggest sporting day in Cameroon. The winners will achieve lifelong fame. But nearly half of all runners will quit the race…conquered by Mt. Cameroon.
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Directed by Steve Dorst. Written and produced by Steve Dorst and Dan Evans. Edited by Dan Evans. Photographed by Ryan Hill. Music by Steve Steckler.