All refugees know best to do is run. They run away from danger. From wars. They run for a better life. To honor their courage, a group of athletes decided to run for these people’s rights. 71 million persons are displaced worldwide currently and they are celebrated each year, on the World Refugee Day (20 June). The organizer of this year’s anniversary is On — the Swiss sportswear company — in partnership with the Tegla Loroupe Foundation and Hungry Man Productions.

Their long collaboration resulted in a documentary, directed by Richard Bullock of Hungry Man Productions. A 90-minute-long video that focuses on the legendary Kenyan athlete, Tegla Loroupe, and her plan to mentor other athlete refugees on their way to the 2020 Tokyo Games (now canceled). The group formed under the name of the “Athlete Refugee Team” and their experiences have been captured in this cinematic adventure, which is now considered to be a world’s first.

The film was shot over the span of three years, across eight countries, and three continents. “RUN” is a lesson about courage, empowerment, and the unwavering human spirit. Athletes from Congo, Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan, who have been running from tribal gangs and civil war since they were children, are portrayed within the video. We are witnessing images of their traumas…

Richard Bullock, the director, says: “Refugees get a lot of people talking for them, so I made a conscious effort to allow the audience to listen to the characters directly. The refugee athletes are all incredibly wise and thoughtful. From very early on I tried to uncover how they were able to remain so hopeful and positive when the world had given them little reason to believe it was anything but violence and horror. I learned an incredible amount about coping with difficulties and facing uncertainty from them. I think that’s the biggest takeaway – it’s not about running at all. It’s about resilience and overcoming hardship. If you’re ever faced with a mountain to climb, the words and actions of these athletes will resonate profoundly.”

The story carries us from the moment refugees navigate seeking asylum while competing overseas to today’s biggest crisis: COVID-19. Actually, this is the final chapter (for now): The way the pandemic ruined their Olympic plans. The documentary takes an unexpected twist this March when the entire team has prepared to leave to Doha for a training. Because of the restrictions, they were not able to go. Yet, once this chapter of the world’s life ends, we hope that we will see a happy ending for the “RUN” documentary!


Project: Athlete Refugee Team

Client: On

Production company: Hungry Man Productions