March 9, 2012

Spirit of the Marathon

Sometimes the pile of clothes at the foot of the bed gets so high that I need a lengthy distraction while I fold them. I intentionally pile them on the bed so that I am forced to fold them before sleeping, but too often it results in an awkward, try-not-to-knock-too-many-tiny-kid-underwears-on-the-floor sleep. Determined not to waste a night on a fitful sleep with laundry burdened legs, I turned to Netflix for my distraction. That's where I found Spirit of the Marathon. I consider it a Netflix fail that they didn't recommend it to me sooner.

In case you haven't noticed, it's one of my blog themes to review things that are no longer relevant or released so long ago that people have actually forgotten that they exist. That's what comes with reviewing running gear that is purchased from thrift stores and yard sales. In case you are ready to spend $1 on something your neighbor considers trash, you need to know if there is a reason they are throwing it out six years later. This documentary has been around since 2007, so it fits my strict only-review-oldness parameters. But as every faithful thrift store junky knows, new does not equal better, and old often equals classic.


Spirit of the Marathon had me crying in the first two minutes. Seriously, I was sitting on the bed sucking in cry snot when my husband tried to intervene because he thought something was actually wrong. No, husband man, nothing's wrong. Everything about marathoning is right. Wouldn't that be an obvious reason to cry? Look at those people crossing the finish line looking totally exhausted and like they might have just pooped their pants a little. It's a beautiful, cry-worthy sight. 

The movie follows six runners at all different levels of fitness who are preparing for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. So you have your dude Kenyan, your lady US champion, your divorcee/single mom, your husband and wife duo, you first-time-marathoner determined lady, and your father/daughter team. 

Most cry-worthy moments:
  • The clips of all of the races over time and the runners collapsing from exhaustion.
  • "When you cross that finish line, no matter how slow no matter how fast, it will change your life forever." Dick Beardsley 
  • When the father who has run several marathons talks about his daughter deciding to join him for the Chicago marathon. 
  • Anytime a group of Kenyans is running together. The movement and smoothness of it all is just amazing. 
  • When the husband of the husband and wife duo gets injured right before the marathon. 
  • Daniel Njenga telling his life story and describing the crimes against his family in Kenya.
  • The start line of Chicago and the view of its massiveness from the air. 
  • Whenever the runners see their family on the sidelines during the race and run to hug them. 
  • All of the crying at the finish line, and add to that, every single shot of the finish line. Crying or not, that bad boy is emotional.
Coolest moments:
  • Every time Deena Kastor's legs are moving. Beautiful.
  • Katherine Switzer running the men-only Boston Marathon in 1967. When a race official tried to physically push her out of the race, her fellow runner pushed back to help her complete the race. 
  • Deena Kastor talking about how she's taking it easy and resting while simultaneously doing five hundred lunges, on each side. Resting is relative.
  • Random running dude: "Number 41. I'm still nervous. Been up all night going to the bathroom. Yeah, I'm ready."
  • When Deena Kastor wins, and the commentator says, "She is spent. There is nothing left. That's the marathon."
  • "You have such a huge amount of people, 35-37 thousand people at the start. All running the race together, all finishing it, all going through the same emotions and the same experiences. It's very difficult to think of that happening in another event."
  • "People run the marathon to prove that there is still triumph and there is still possibility in their lives."
The last twenty minutes of the movie were absolutely amazing. I couldn't look away from the screen. I had to keep my eyes trained on every movement to soak in all of the inspirational tidbits. The powerful finale music also had me wanting to take off running.

So basically, if you have run or are thinking about running a marathon, watch this movie. Also, if you are human and not a heartless robot, watch this movie. It will inspire you. 

And if you want to own it, Running Diva Mom is hosting a giveaway right now for a Spirit of the Marathon DVD.


  1. I watched it I think 2 days before my first marathon. I didn't like it as much as every other runner in the world.. Maybe it's because it's so outdated, who knows, but I just didn't dig it. Great stories in it though!

  2. I remember watching that at a one-night screening at the movie theater with a bunch of other running junkies both part and not part of our local club. It was a great movie - really great motivator. Although I have to say it made me jealous, too. I wish I had a bunch of professionals holding my hand as I trained for a race. Doctors, coaches, scientific types... :) How cool would that be? I keep saying if anyone is willing to take me on as a marathon experiment, I would be willing, but so far no takers. lol

    1. So true. I was jealous of Deena's massage therapist husband doing her stretches for her. Lucky!

  3. This sounds like a really good movie. I'll have to watch this before my first marathon.

  4. Okay. I want to watch it so bad!! That'd be a great Friday night activity. What are the chances my husband will agree to that?! haha

    1. Well, my husband made fun of me crying which takes some of the joy out of the crying (is it weird to love crying in movies?). You should agree to ban any mocking before the movie starts.

  5. I also watched this sometime a while ago, I do remember crying as well...I'd watched it before I ever ran a marathon. I'd like to see it again now that I've run one.

    And haha I'm sure your mother would not love my mismatched bright outfits. Can't wait to see more about your homemade headbands in the future...

    1. I thought of you when I bought my latest neon running shirt!

  6. I watch spirit of the marathon on youtube while cycling at home and I was crying the whole time :) lol it made me fall in love with Deena Kastor and want to run a marathon more than anything else :)

    and to be honest another bloggers vid of her first marathon made me cry too Michael @ Slowly-Tri-ing Love her!

    PS: I love that header photo of you!

    1. That video was awesome! Thanks for linking it.

      Maybe I could photoshop in some spatulas and use that banner photo for the contest!:)

  7. Every time I watch this, I cry as Deena Kastor is about to finish (and win!) Every single time!

  8. Oh wow! Having just ran my first half marathon this past Sunday this brought me to tears while I was watching it!!! I cant wait to see this movie. Each morning this week when I woke up I thought, "Im a half marathon runner!" It really is something that sets me apart from others! Awesome!

    1. Congrats on finishing your first half marathon! It's such an amazing feeling to train so hard and cross the finish line.


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