Nathan Kanney lost his spleen in Poland.
Kanney, the main subject of Theresa Ortolani’s Endurance, crashed his dirt bike during the 2004 International Six Days Enduro race in Poland, but he kept going until he was pulled from the race and taken to the hospital. Doctors removed his ruptured spleen and told him he would have died if he had stayed in the race any longer. That’s the MO of the off-road motorcycle world: unless you’re on the verge of death, you stay on the throttle. In an age where many high-adrenaline sports have become watered-down exercises in marketing, dirt bike racing remains intensely raw; a dangerous enterprise populated with a colorful, profane cast of daredevils. Ortolani applies an artist’s eye to this unforgiving sport and the riders who pursue it, resulting in an unprecedented, behind-the-scenes window into this punishing competition.
Endurance offers embedded access and a scope that spans three years of off-road racing. Ortolani began shooting Kanney at a race in 2006 in which Kanney made Grand National Cross Country history, and Ortolani became hooked on a sport that is at turns beautiful and inescapably brutal. Ortolani traveled thousands of miles, across the U.S. and Europe, in the process capturing Kanney’s ascent from underdog privateer to KTM Factory Team rider—an achievement that required beating world champions riding bikes three times the cost of his.
Endurance includes photographs of Kanney’s world-champion competitors and teammates including David Knight, Juha Salminen, Mika Ahola, Anders Eriksson, Bartosz Oblucki, and Ryan Mills, with cameo appearances by Travis Pastrana and Carey Hart. Among the many interview subjects are Nathan Kanney, Carrie Coombs Russell, Jason Weigandt, Jerry Bernardo, Jonty Edmunds, Jesse Ziegler, Steve Hatch, and Anders Eriksson.