Spirit of the Marathon

Spirit of the Marathon is a 2007 documentary by John Dunham that I watched last evening (T.G. for Netflix).  It followed the paths of 6 entrants in the Chicago Marathon, 2 were elite contenders for first place, the other 4 were ordinary people doing this extraordinary feat (“every person’s Mt. Everest”).  I especially enjoyed the ordinary folks’ story, although the two elite runners had their own intense dramas, of course, as well, and the race was more central to their lives and livelihoods.  And wow, the product placement.  Deanna Kastor is definitely supported by Asics, everything she and her husband wear is emblazoned with the logo, including one very cute cap which I would not mind purchasing, so I get it, it works.  But Jerry, a 70 year old  (who wears a shirt that says “Are We In Kansas Yet?” every time he marathons)  made the point that all you need to buy if you run is shoes.  I read Runner’s World so much I think I need to look sleek and have the best looking gear, but I loved the puffy sweats and worn outfits of the regular folks.   My absolute favorite person was Lori, she ran on her own all the time, her husband was disinterested, although not exactly unsupportive, and she raised money for the organization that had arranged her adoption.  I admired her individuality, self sufficiency and internal motivation.  Another beautful person was Leah, a recently divorced mom of a 7 year old, who walked part of the marathon, was in doubt about finishing it due to knee pain and sobbed hard when she crossed the finish line.  One of the reasons that the documentary was great is that she was the last voice we heard–she is in training and  going to do it again.  Another reason was that you felt you were on the ground –you saw the grinding miles.   What scared me the most was the wait before you begin, I can imagine my energy draining away in the cold of November.  The crowd shots were great, one person had a big sign in pencil, it greeted the runners with “You’re All Crazy”


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