Spirit Of The Marathon

  • Year:2008
  • Rating:G
  • Director:Jon Dunham
  • Cast:Dick Beardsley, Ryan Bradley, Leah Caille
  • Release Date:October 30, 2008
  • Distributor:Sharmill
  • Running time:102 minutes
  • Film Worth:$9.00
  • FILMINK rates movies out of $20 - the score indicates the amount we believe a ticket to the movie to be worth

“…fails to raise the heart rate of its less engaged viewers.”

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With The Spirit of the Marathon, debuting feature director Jon Dunham (whose background is as a cinematographer) tracks human perseverance and personal triumph through the 2005 Chicago Marathon, following a diverse cast of amateur avids and elite athletes, all of whom hope to conquer the pounding 42.2 kilometres of pavement.

While some run for charity and others for competition, 70-year-old Jerry Meyers, in his fifth marathon quips: "I do it for the t-shirt." The race is a post-divorce "Everyman's Everest" for first timer and single mother Leah Caille, while 2004 Olympic bronze medallist Deena Kastor runs to help preserve her world ranking, and Tokyo's Daniel Njenga competes to support his Kenyan family.

With substantial energy spent educating viewers on the history of marathon running through vintage footage, the film picks the brains of "marathon experts" who contribute incisive anecdotes, such as the so-called "Boston Incident" when female running pioneer Kathrine Switzer competed in a men's only 1967 Boston Marathon amidst fears that a female runner would be too frail and that her "uterus might fall out".

Still, for its strengths, The Spirit of the Marathon often feels more like a tele movie than a proper cinema release, despite best efforts from Dunham, a veteran of 24 marathons. While he succeeds in capturing the very human stories behind the enduring race, the film largely fails to raise the heart rate of its less engaged viewers. Awarded the audience choice award at the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival, it is surely a special treat for Chicagoans and marathoners alike, especially for how it provides a human face for one of the city's major annual highlights.

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