Welcome to the concluding instalment in my trilogy of posts reviewing movies that have the potential to provide a source of running motivation when the going gets tough.

Regular readers will already know that Part Uno covered The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, Run Fatboy Run, Without Limits and Chariots of Fire, and that Part Dos covered Marathon Man, The Jericho Mile, Across the Tracks and Running. This post covers Spirit of the Marathon, Prefontaine, and Marathon. In a final post, coming real soon, I will offer up my top 5.

I have tried not to give too much of the plot away in each case and concentrate on what is interesting from a runner’s motivation perspective, but there may be some spoilers. So read with one eye closed, just in case.

Spirit of the Marathon

spirit of the marathonThis feature-length documentary follows the paths of several runners as they prepare for, and run in, the Chicago marathon. The featured runners are first timers, experienced marathoners and elite athletes. As such, the documentary captures the marathon as a unique sporting event in which participants face their own individual challenges, ranging from just wanting to get through it, wanting to run a a specific time (like a PB or a Boston qualifying time), through to the small minority actually trying to win the race. The movie’s focussed applicability is it’s downfall, however. Though the individual stories are relatively interesting, with enough personal hardship side missions to fill a box set, the documentary format fails to deliver the drama necessary to motivate.

Motivation score 6/10
Running action score 6/10


prefontaineThe second movie featuring the story of Steve Prefontaine, and inferior in almost every way to Without Limits, which isn’t saying much. The movie manages to portray an American icon as a self-indulgent whinger, more interested in self-promotion than winning races. The soundtrack is a soft-rock disaster-zone which only serves to further diminish the drama after the scriptwriters and actors have had their go. The Olympic final itself just manages to elevate itself above boring. Perhaps the only redeeming part of this movie is the treatment of the post-Munich battle with the American Track Union over a meet in Oregon, which seems to have been a start point for the commercialisation of US athletics. Perhaps it’s because I am not an American and wasn’t around for the Munich games, but I just don’t get it.

Motivation score 2/10
Running action score 5/10


marathon korea“A marathon seems cool, huh? A true human victory. Think again, Lady. It’s more like running from reality”

A late substitute for On The Edge, this cult Koran movie is based on the true story of a young autistic man who’s passions are wild animals and running. Focussing sensitively on the relationship between the central character, his mother and his reluctant coach (a former Boston marathon winner), the movie follows a path to an attempt at a sub-3 marathon. The acting is flawless and the characters believable and engaging. The pacing and the classical soundtrack are perfect. It is an emotional piece and I defy anyone not to fully embrace the lead character’s challenge. While not a masterpiece (it descends too close to Korean melodramatic soap opera on a couple of occasions, albeit that I have only a passing knowledge of the genre) it is certainly worthy of its 7.7 IMDB score.

Motivation score 8/10
Running action score 6/10

So, I have arrived at the end of my review list. In the next post, after careful consideration, I will list the top 5 movies I would choose to watch if stranded, with no other form of entertainment, the evening before a marathon.