Explore the miracle of running through the science of human evolution.

Explore the miracle of running through the science of human evolution.

Explore the miracle of running through the science of human evolution. The Perfect Runner celebrates the modern love of endurance running by exploring our past as the running ape.

How did our ancestors survive the shift from trees to land?  How did Homo sapiens evolve to dominate the planet? How did our ancestors hunt before they developed weapons?

You’ll be amazed to learn, the answer lies in a remarkable ability we evolved far earlier than our powerful brains. Humans are nature’s perfect endurance runners, and our ancestors could outrun all the animals in their environment.

The Perfect Runner celebrates the modern love of long-distance running by exploring our evolutionary past as a species defined by its ability to run.  Cambridge anthropologist and Gemini-winning host Niobe Thompson takes a journey of personal discovery back in evolutionary time, learning from the world’s leading evolutionary biologists and immersed in distant cultures whose survival still depends on endurance running.  From Africa’s Great Rift Valley to the highlands of Ethiopia, from the most remote place in Arctic Siberia to one of the world’s toughest ultramarathons in the Canadian Rockies, this documentary weaves cutting-edge science with gripping adventure, and asks what today’s runners can learn from our evolutionary past.

Finally understand the science and sport of barefoot running.  A visual feast in full HD, from the makers of the double-Gemini winner Code Breakers (2011), and Inuit Odyssey (2009), Best Science Documentary at the Banff World Television Awards.


View the trailer

What People Are Saying

  • “Breathtaking scenes…captures the essence of how our ancestors became runners when it was purely a survival skill”

    — Canadian Running
  • “A big beautiful, visually stunning film.”

    — Edmonton Journal, Ottawa Citizen, Calgary Herald, Victoria Times Colonist, Windsor Star, Vancouver Sun, Regina Leader Post
  • “Not to be missed!”

    — National Post
  • “Whether you’re a fan of running or just a lover of adventure, Niobe Thompson’s remarkable documentary takes you all over the world to explore mankind’s perfect stride. Not to be missed.”

    — Ben Kaplan, National Post
  • “The film — which features breathtaking cinematography — explores how our ancestors used their unique ability as endurance runners to evolve from ‘a tree climbing ape to dominate our world.’”

    — Winnipeg Free Press
  • “An intriguing mix of science and practice along with beautiful cinematography featuring runners of all types.”

    — Montreal Gazette
  • “Combines history and science to explain why more and more experts are drawing on the past to train the world’s top athletes.”

    — Toronto Star
  • “In a gripping climax, host Niobe Thompson tackles one of the world’s greatest tests of endurance to determine whether modern urban humans can still run like their hunter-gather ancestors.”

    — Northern Stars


  • Producer/Director Niobe Thompson
  • Cinematography Daron Donahue & Michael McLaughlin
  • Editor Brenda Terning
  • Production Manager Sandra Tober
  • Production Coordinator Emma Radford
  • Executive Producers for CBC Bob Culbert & FM Morisson