Posts Tagged ‘running’

Spirit of the Marathon

Spirit of the Marathon is a 2007 documentary about six runners training for the Chicago Marathon. The runners range from contenders to win the race (Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga) to competitive amateurs, first timers, and back of the packers. All six runners share a common bond of loving running.

Watching Spirit of the Marathon, a few things stood out to me. First of all, the movie is extremely well made. You can tell they had a little bit of a budget and access with cool things like crane shots, overhead shots, etc.

The second (and most important) thing that stood out about this movie is the love of the marathon. I haven’t run a marathon in over 5 years. After about five or six really good years of running, my own running has wavered due to many reasons (increased responsibilities being a dad/husband/coach/employee, etc.). In the past year, though, I’ve really recommitted to my running. As I was watching this movie, I could see on the screen some of those things that I love & hate about running that sometimes can be difficult expressing to others.

The marathon is a race that you is difficult to describe if you haven’t gone through it. It would be like explaining what the color blue is to someone who is color blind. Running a marathon is equally the most miserable and soul-filling experience I’ve ever done. I simultaneously love it and hate it. There is no denying the race is painful (understatement of the year?) whether you are a five hour runner or, as is shown in the movie, a world class runner such as Deena Kastor. The sense of achievement of not only finishing a marathon, but everything that came before it with the training is hard to describe unless you’ve been through it.

The movie does a good job of showing all the surrounds the marathon. Watching Spirit of the Marathon, you are subjected to a little bit of history of the marathon (as well as a history of each of the featured runners) along with a view of everything that goes into the training and preparation from long runs every weekend to preparing your outfit, bib, race chip, and food the night before the race. You experience the excitement moments after the gun goes to the agony almost every runner is feeling about 20 miles later. The filmmakers have done a fine job showing and conveying all of the emotions that surround the experience of running a marathon.

If you are not a runner, you probably aren’t going to enjoy this quite as much as I did. However, if you are a runner and you can relate to the love/hate relationship with running, Spirit of the Marathon is well worth a watch.

7.5

out of 10

Check out the trailer here

19

10 2012

The Long Green Line

Joe Newton is to high school cross country as Bob Hurley is to high school basketball. As the coach of a suburban school in a large metro region, he’s been there forever and, in the words of DJ Khaled, all he does is win.

As the 2008 documentary about his York (IL) cross country team The Long Green Line shows, though, Coach Newton cares much more about winning. As he shows many times throughout the documentary, he has the intensity and fire of Bobby Hurley combined with the love and compassion of Dick Vermeil. The Long Green Line follows Joe Newton and the York cross country team during the 2005 season as they attempt to win the school (and Newton’s) 25th state title.

The stars of the movie aren’t necessarily the top 7 (out of 221) boys on the team who wind up runner at the state meet. In fact, John Fisher (an autistic kid with a lot of love for his cross country team) and Connor Chadwick (one of the slowest kids on the team who suffers from cerebral palsy) are as important to both the team and the movie as the fastest kids.

In the middle of the season, Coach Newton kicks off one of his top 7 runners. Shortly thereafter, two of his top 7 runners are arrested (and, of course, kicked off the team) for causing millions of dollars in damage in a starting a house fire the past summer. His top two runners, twins Matt & Eric Dettman, contract a viral infection late in the season and are running nowhere near their best.

The movie has everything you want from a documentary. A great central character, an interesting storyline, and an unforeseen plot twist make this story worth watching for sports fans. Created by first-time director (and former York student) Matthew Arnold at times looks really professional, but has a few sequences that look rather shaky and/or amateurish. Given the lack of budget and lack of experience, it’s probably to be expected (I, for one, have made a movie on a low budget that at times looks less than ideal). As a whole, though, he’s done a fantastic job of conveying an interesting story about a legendary coach.

7.5

out of 10

05

10 2012