Spirit of the Marathon Movie
by Doug Kurtis, Jan. 19, 2008
Spirit of the Marathon Movie
Spirit of the Marathon was filmed to capture the drama and essence of running 26.2 miles. It will be shown one night only, January 24th, 7:30 pm at just a few local movie theatres.
If you’re a marathon runner, have thought about running one, supported a marathoner or wondered why people run marathons plan to see this film. It’s a rare opportunity to see the sport on the big screen.
This is the night to let someone else explain to your friends that what you like to do isn’t completely crazy. This will be camaraderie heaven. People go to opening night movies to feel the energy of the crowd. Imagine being in a room full of people who also share the same interest. This is special and I recommend you buy tickets now. You don’t want show up at the theatre and find that it’s sold out.
The producers traveled across the U.S., Europe, Arica and Asia to interview runners and many of the sport’s greatest stars. Five unique stories will unfold that include professional, amateur and first time marathon runners, as they prepare for the Chicago Marathon.
Spirit of the Marathon also gives a glimpse into the history of the marathon. It will also include and an accompanying featurette with Bill Rodgers and a Q&A with Deena Kastor and Ryan Hall.
You can find a local theater and buy tickets by entering your zip code on the movie's website: www.fathomevents.com
The film took four years to make and was a collaborative effort of Academy Award winning executive producer Mark Jonathon Harris, producer Gwendolen Twist and producer/director/cinematographer and marathoner Jon Dunham.
I spoke via phone last week with Dunham from his home in Los Angeles. He has run 24 marathons. Some of his favorites include his first one in Los Angeles, which he did in 1993, with virtually no training and no long runs. “I was just thrilled to finish”, he said. He also has an affinity for Chicago’s Marathon which he has run four times. His marathoning inspired his mother and sister (who lives near Traverse City) to now run marathons.
He thought about the concept of doing the movie in 2000. “I looked at what had been done previously and didn’t think there were any feature films that captured the essence of the marathon. I was inspired to do the movie from witnessing personal triumph and people with courage who step out of their comfort zone and tackle something bigger than they imagined.”
Bigger also meant taking it to the big screen, something Dunham always envisioned. “I want the film to also be enlightening for audiences that have not run the marathon and so families can have a greater appreciation for what runner’s experience.”
His key concepts were there from start to finish. “We wanted to film a big city race with a varied group of characters including both amateur and elite runners. We intermixed historical aspects of the marathon using greats from the past like Paul Tergat. We wanted a real runner’s film that was entertaining.”
“I chose Chicago because it’s a big spectacle and anyone can enter. As opposed to Boston that doesn’t have first timers. We focus on athletes and the marathon itself not just the venue.” The picture was filmed on four continents with interviews of many famous athletes.
“I marveled at ability of non-runners who took part. We also found elite athlete Daniel Njenga a few years prior to filming. He’s a remarkable story. “
Dunham said that the film was an incredible journey. “It was a lot like running your first marathon, a tremendous challenge and much longer than I expected. I hit the wall over and over again but I’m glad I did it.”
He said there were three key things that he enjoyed about making the film. One, he loved the travel as it related to the race. Two, the time he spent with runners. Meeting some of the greats was special for him, including a remarkable run at 2 am with Dick Beardsley from his home in Minnesota. Three, the film was an opportunity to give back to the sport.
Dunham said that his relationship to running has matured. “I'm less focused on the competitiveness of running (not that I was ever a real" competitor) and I'm now enjoying the health and fitness benefits. I'm running more these days to relax, clear my head, re-charge. Where before I pushed myself so hard that I'd end up depleted.”
Dunham echoed the comment of Beardsley in the film. “No matter how fast or slow you finish the marathon, when you cross the finish line it changes your life forever.”