Erik van Ingen '12 knew he wanted to make movies as soon as he saw an action sports documentary of extreme skiing when he was in western Canada, where he was competing in a ski race 3,000 miles from home.
“From there I thought, that’s pretty cool,” he says. “That’s something I want to do: be able to document something and relay a thought or an interpretation of an event from my mind through the lens to the screen.”
He was 12 at the time.
Today, van Ingen is a cinema major and one of the most successful runners in Binghamton University history: he holds the school record for the mile (3:57.11) and is the first runner in program history to qualify for the NCAA Division I Cross Country Championships. He was also named to the 2011 America East Academic Honor Roll.
This summer, van Ingen used a Harpur College Undergraduate Award for Research and Creative Work to meld his two passions. With four other runners from universities across the country, he moved to Maine to train. They lived in spartan conditions, sleeping in basements and living in the woods, and van Ingen documented their experience. In The Real Maine, he shows there’s no secret to success. It’s just time, talent and dedication.
“What we are doing at a higher level is the same as what any other runner does,” he says. “As a younger athlete, I always thought there was this magical rift between a 15-year-old with aspirations and a 23-year-old athlete who’s out there running world-class times. But through that transition in age, I came to realize it’s really the same stuff. The people who are good at it are passionate and do it a lot.”