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.
out of 10