Thursday night, a friend and I went to see Spirit of the Marathon in Boston. Now, when I told people I was going to see a movie about running 26.2 miles, I got a lot of “Gee, that sounds like fun”s. But it was! And since this showing was the encore showing of a “one night only” event, I’m going to tell you about it!
The movie followed six different people as they prepared to run the 2005 Chicago Marathon. The runners included a 70 year man running his fifth marathon (and his first with his daughter), two first time marathoners, a Boston hopeful (in case you didn’t know, you have to qualify to run Boston by running another marathon at a pretty good clip. Qualifying times are here. Or get an invitational entry through a charity or friend, like I did), and two elite runners, Deena Kastorand Daniel Njenga.
The movie gave a brief history of the marathon, from its inception in Greece to today. Did you know that the first person to run “the marathon” (25 miles at that time) died upon completing it? Who was the second guy that decided it would be a good idea to try again? It featured many big names in the running world, including Amby Burfoot, Dick Beardsley, Alberto Salazar (who talks me though one of my workouts!), and Paula Radcliffe(who also speaks to me in my iPod, and won the NYC Marathon just ten months after popping out a kid).
One of my all time favorite stories about the marathon is the one of Katherine Switzer. She was the first woman to run the Boston Marathon, and she was not welcome. So unwelcome that race director, Jock Semple, came onto the course and tried to physically take her off of it. Switzer’s boyfriend gave Semple a good shoulder check, and she went on to finish the race.
The movie had all the stereotypical adjectives associated with it: Funny, Sad, Pain, Heartbreak, Humor, A Happy Ending, A Sad Ending. But it was all true. Each of the athletes profiled went through quite a journey through 18 weeks of training. Some had the results they wanted, others did not.
Since the marathon was 2-1/2 years ago, I’m not giving anything away by telling you that Deena Kastor did indeed win the race, her first major marathon victory. At the end, she was literally using her arms to keep her moving. You could see that her legs were lead. She beat out Constantina Tomescu-Dita by only 5 seconds. Daniel Njenga, however, came in third. The winner, Felix Limo, beat him by 12 seconds. When you think about the fact that 12 seconds is less than 1/2 second per mile, its amazing that long distance events are that close. Njenga lost in 2006 by 5 seconds to Robert K. Cheruiyot, who slipped on the finish mat and hit his head, suffering a brain contusion.
Dick Beardsley (who came in second to Alberto Salazar in the 1982 Boston Marathon “Duel in the Sun”) spoke my favorite line of the movie: “When you cross that finish line, no matter how slow, no matter how fast, it will change your life forever.”
This is so true for me. I never thought I could run a marathon, even after I started running. Heck, I wasn’t even sure I could run a marathon the day of the marathon. But crossing that finish line proved to me that I could do almost anything. I hate when people say “I can’t run,” because 90% of the time its not true. They usually just think they can’t. This movie gave hope to those people who think they can’t.
As for me, its given me the motivation I’ve been lacking. I spent the T ride home plotting out my year of racing, from the 5K in a month to the Marine Corps Marathon in October. I’m ready to stop sitting around and going to the gym twice a week, and ready to start running again.
Just not today. There’s too much snow out there!