The Atlantic Selects
The 'Most Elusive' Man in North America
Mar 14, 2018
Justin Pelletier and Adam Maruniak
Somewhere in the mountains of Vernon, British Columbia lives a 76-year-old man by the name of Dag Aabye. He has no cell phone or email address. Revered by locals for having escaped from the shackles of modern society, he is the champion of the 80-mile ultramarathon aptly named the “death race.” Aabye is the oldest person to have ever finished the race.
Determined to locate and interview Aabye, filmmakers Adam Maruniak and Justin Pelletier spent weeks canvassing the nearby town, leaving postcards with their contact information. They visited the bar that the reclusive septuagenarian is said to frequent and even summited a mountain in search of him—to no avail. Then, the day before the co-directors had planned to scrap what they thought was a futile project, Dag called them from a payphone. Their resulting documentary, Never Die Easy, is named after Aabye’s motto.
“Never die easy,” Aabye says in the film. “To me, there is no age. Age is something other people put on you. You put a person in an old folk’s home, and this person’s gonna die pretty quick because you tell them, ‘You’re old now—you’re ready to go.’”
True to local lore, the filmmakers were taken by Aabye’s ardent self-reliance and motivation. “In our final moments with Dag,” Maruniak said, “he embraced us both and told us, ‘Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping, and always have a mountain in life to climb.’ Those words will resonate with us forever.”
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Author: Emily Buder
About This Series
A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.