Saturday, January 26, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

On Thursday night I went to see the maration movie, Spirit of the Marathon. I absolutely loved it. This was a feature length documentary style movie about several runners training for the 2005 Chicago marathon, two of which were elite runners (Deena Castor and Daniel Djenga), and others were amateur athletes of varying skill levels. But in addition to telling these individuals' stories, the movie tells the story of the marathon, from its inception in ancient Greece, to inclusion in the Olympics; how the length of the marathon was established at 26.2 (we can thank the British royal family of 1908 for that); the involvement of women running the marathon, including the first woman to run the Boston Marathon (Kathrine Switzer, who entered under her initials; the film includes fascinating footage of race officials trying to remove her bodily from the course); and other fascinating tidbits. There is also commentary from the participants and various professionals and experts in the field of running.

I believe this movie would be enjoyable for any viewer. But I could kind of tell that most of the audience was a running crowd. There was a certain lean, athletic look to most of the people filing into the theatre. (Not everyone--my mom said she felt a bit self-conscious sitting there, and was happy when the lights finally went down. And I heard a man a few seats away from me comment, not unkindly, as a rather round woman with a big bucket of popcorn came in, that she did not look like a marathon runner! I then waited to pull out my South Beach snack bars until I heard him and his companion rattling some snacks....)

Even though the popcorn was scarce in the theatre, the crowd ate up the movie. We laughed at the humorous bits, we choked up at the touching parts (at least I did), we watched tensely as the runners neared the end of the marathon. Both Deena Castor and Daniel Djenga were trying for their first marathon wins in this race (I won't spoil the suspense by giving it away). The amateurs were just trying to finish!

The January 24th showing was supposed to be a one-time event, but there is now an encore showing scheduled for February 21 in selected cities. It is definitely worth seeing.

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