run, rest, eat, bitch, buy things, cross-train, blog, repeat.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Spirit of the Marathon

Last week, I got the chance to see a screening of a really cool documentary called Spirit of the Marathon. The filmmakers chose 6 runners who signed up for the 2005 Chicago Marathon and followed their training all the way through race day. The thing that made this film so unique was the fact that each person was on a different level of running. They also focused on the different inspirations of the runners.

Two of the athletes were first-time marathoners. Another guy had several marathons under his belt, but was now ready to try and qualify for Boston. The fourth man was 70 years old and had run a handful of marathons, but this time around he was training with his daughter, who would run her first. And then there were two elite runners-Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga, who comes from Kenya, but lives and trains in Japan.

In addition to following the training of these six, many other famous runners and coaches were featured as well-even Coach Hal! I learned more about the history of the marathon, races and runners that helped to pave the way and more specifically—the history of women’s running.

I don’t want to go too much into detail and spoil the movie for you, but there is just one thing that I learned that I’d like to share. Maybe I’ve been in the dark, but I didn’t know anything about Katherine Switzer before this movie.

Switzer was the first woman to run Boston. It was a commonly held belief that women did not have the endurance or strength to run at any length close to 26.2 miles. But in 1967, Katherine Switzer entered the race as K.V. Switzer and therefore went unnoticed as a woman. She was now officially entered with a number. Once the media picked up on the fact that she was running, the race director learned of this and became furious. The nutjob actually ran onto the course and tried to rip off her number! He physically tried to force her to stop running. That’s crazy!! Look how angry he is:

But then thankfully-- big, strong boyfriend had enough of this jerk pushing his lady around and saved the day…

Katherine Switzer is my new hero!!!

I’m kind of an emotional girl when it comes to running. I get teary-eyed and a lump in my throat at the start of races, at the end of important races or really just anytime I get a feeling of runner camaraderie or self-achievement. I’m just a sap like that, I guess, but the reason I’m telling you is because I had a lump in my throat for almost the entire movie.

Maybe it was watching the joys and heartache experienced by the athletes on the big screen. Or maybe it was the sense of pride, sitting in that theater with my fellow runners. We could understand how the runners in the movie felt. We’d all been there. Even though I didn’t know them personally, we had so much in common. We know what it’s like to run through pain, sacrifice time with loved ones or fall short of a goal. But we also know how it feels to finally cross that finish line or set that new PR and that is often what makes it all worth it.

One final comment on something in the movie that had never really crossed my mind before...One runner was talking about how unique the marathon is...what other sport can an everyday, average Joe run in the same exact event as the greats? We literally run in the footsteps of the elite. That's pretty amazing.


Amy said...

Dude, isn't it crazy that that was like 40 years ago?? I'm glad they talked about that in the movie, cause I never knew the story either, till I ran across an article or something about her awhile back.

Mrs. Duffy said...

Don't feel bad about being a sap. I get lumps in my throat from reading blog posts about running-achievement-type-stuff. Aw, shucks. :)

Dana said...

Ok,I got a lump in my throat from JUST reading your post! Too bad this movie isn't playing near me.

new movies said...

What an inspiring film. I just love it. The film was beautifully shot, the pace of the film moved quickly, and the cast was great!