Friday, August 1, 2008

Unbiased review of Ultramarathon Man movie

I loved it! And the shots of Dean without a shirt on were totally not gratuitous.

But seriously. I went to the movie with my mom, who is not a runner, and has not been since she did a little (very little) jogging in the '70s. Still, she goes with me to a lot of races, so she is familiar with race culture and runners. Near the beginning, she whispered that it made her want to go out and run... though by the end, she said, she just felt exhausted!

Obviously this is a movie about Dean Karnazes, superman, cyborg, human machine. How else can you explain a person who can run a marathon every single day and after each one, not even appear ruffled—let alone sweaty and exhausted—like you would expect him (or anyone) to be. Although I must add that most of the people running along with him in the various marathons looked pretty together at the end too. And many of these were just ordinary runners, not superstar athletes at all.

But the movie is not just about Dean and his exploits. It is also about the making of the film, the staging of 50 marathons (a few of the marathons were regularly scheduled races, the rest were organized specifically for this event), and the crew and people who helped make it all happen. Not the least of whom were the various runners who participated in the races, as well as Dean's children and parents, who tagged along to most of the states in a motor home. (It appeared that Dean's wife, while at some of the runs, probably had to go home and work for most of the fifty days.)

If you've read the Ultramarathon Man book, you would enjoy seeing clips of video from some of the events written about there—including Badwater and the Western States 100.

The final marathon was the 2006 New York City Marathon, where Dean finished with his fastest time for any of the fifty marathons (from what I could gather in the movie, most were around four hours, give or take). (But did he beat Lance Armstrong? Er, no—but he was less than a minute behind him, and that was on his 50th consecutive marathon!)

And what did Dean do after he finished the 50th race? Well, he didn't go to Disneyland. (Hint—it involved running.)

As far as I know this was the only scheduled showing, but hopefully it will be released on DVD sometime soon. I suspect a lot of people (runners, anyway) will be more willing to fork over twenty bucks for their own home copy, than make the trek to the one theatre in their state screening the movie. I hope so. The theatre I went to (Metro in Seattle) was quite full (it's a medium sized theatre), but when you consider that this was the only time and place anyone in this area could see it—well, that's not a lot of people. (And it was raining last night, so I doubt that there were a lot of people out running instead!)

I'm sure some scrooge-like characters will claim that is was all a big exercise in self-promotion. Well, so what. Early on in the movie Dean mentions how he now makes his living running and writing. I can only imagine there are more than a few people (me, for one) who would love to say the same. (Dean also said that he is an introvert—another thing I, and perhaps others, can relate to!)

I wish I could conclude by saying "go see it"—but alas, if you missed it last night you're out of luck, for now.

No comments: