Friday, November 05, 2010

Spirit of the Marathon by Jon Dunham

As a runner, there are times when I really don't feel like getting out there and pounding the pavement. When I need some inspiration to train, I watch Spirit of the Marathon. This documentary follows six runners of varying abilities in their training for the Chicago Marathon: two elite runners (including Olympic bronze medalist and current U.S. women's marathon record holder, Deena Kastor), a middle of the pack man who wants to qualify for the Boston Marathon, two first time marathoners, and a 70-year-old training to run his fifth marathon.
The beginning of the documentary is focused on the runners and the ups and downs of their training. They each have their own personal reasons for wanting to run the marathon, and you will find yourself engaged in all of their journeys, even the elite athletes. The film ends with footage from the race. Watching a marathon would not typically be thrilling, but the editing and the back stories of the participants had me on the edge of my seat wanting everyone to succeed in their goals.
Interspersed with the stories of the runners are interviews with notable running experts and historical footage of the marathon. Perhaps the most entertaining interview was with Kathrine Switzer, the first woman to run the Boston Marathon with a number in 1967. Race officials tried to physically remove her from the race, but she kept running, even though people were afraid that running might cause a woman's uterus to fall out.
Anyone who runs or enjoys sports documentaries will enjoy Spirit of the Marathon. VBPL also owns the DVD of Marathon Challenge, an episode of Nova from PBS about thirteen sedentary people training for the Boston Marathon. You may also be interested in my review of Born to Run by Christopher McDougall.

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