There are a lot of documentaries about running out there, a lot of different types of documentaries, about marathon runners, about sprinters, about the history of beloved marathon races, about obscure races under challenging conditions, about famous runners or the unknown runner. Today I’m going to give you a list of some of the best Running documentaries out there. Each of them is a great watch and they are in no real order.
We will start with a great documentary about a fantastic runner from the late 60’s early 70’s, Steve Prevontaine. The film Fire on the Track shows his accomplishments as a runner and looks at his career as an Olympic runner through the interviews with his piers. An inspiring story about a dedicated athlete that sadly had his career come to an early halt.
In Breaking 2 we follow the training and effort put into Lelisa Desisa, Zersenay Tadese and Eliud Kipchoge’s first big attempt to break the 2 hour marathon barrier. All the advantages and all the thought that’s put into this effort as well as the preparations from the runners are well documented. Even though we probably all know the outcome of this attempt, it is still a great watch and gives a great picture of all the work that went into this attempt.
The spirit of the marathon is a wonderful documentary that takes the viewer along with different runners at different levels as they train for the marathon and it gives a great insight on the history of the six majors. A great film for runners, but also a great film to give people who don’t run an idea of what it’s like for a runner to run these races. I recently watched it again and it still really connects with me as a runner and works very motivational as in that I want to run all the races they show in the film.
Not many of us know exactly what it takes to be a an Olympic gold medal runner. In I am Bolt we follow along with Usain Bolt’s training and learn what it’s like as an Olympic athlete to train, perform and improve. Besides watching him be amazingly fast and unbelievably well trained you will also see he struggles with the same issues as all other runners. Injuries, fatigue, stress and everything we all deal with is just as much part of an Olympic gold medal runner’s training. A great documentary that gives a wonderful inside perspective into what it’s like to be Bolt.
Pride is forever is one of those documentaries that surprises you. It’s kind of the B-movie equivalent for documentaries. We follow along with track runner Anthony Armstrong, who is a high school runner whose friend decided he would follow him along and film him because he saw a great running talent in his friend. The documentary follows him along during his 2012 running season with all the ups and downs that comes with. A low budget documentary, but well worth the watch.
There are bucket list races we want to run, there are amazing marathons we love to watch people run in and there are races that you can’t imagine why somebody would run it. This documentary is about one of those races, The Barkley marathons. It’s this insane race that is only open to a select few and is one of those things that you can’t even watch it, yet you can’t look away. The crazyness of everything that is the Barkley marathons is very well documented in this captivating documentary.
The movie Gun Runners shows an amazing story of Kenyan runners that get into running to literally safe their lives. They are living a lifestyle that they know will result in an early death and to get out of this they start running marathons. An amazing story and really well told in this fascinating documentary that even though for most of us might not be something we would identify with as runners, but the reality of the lives these people live and the immense change running brings to their lives makes a real captivating story.
To learn everything you need to know about the New York Marathon all you need to do is watch the documentary Run for your life. It shows the complete history of the race, how it started with a hand full of people and grew out to the massive event it is now. It gives a great insight about the race and the people that started it all.
Another recording of events that most of us might say you’d be crazy to attempt is the Badwater Ultra Marathon, a 135 mile race through the dessert with some big climbs on the course. In the documentary Running on the sun we get to follow along with a couple of runners and see how they prepare for the run and the extreme circumstances and we follow them on their gruelling journey of the Badwater race.
In an effort to better his life Alex Vero started a journey from overweight smoker to marathon runner with an ambitious time goal. With great dedication we watch him go through his training in Running to the limits and follow him over a 2 year period to see if he can achieve his goal of running in the London Marathon under 2 hours and 20 minutes to perhaps qualify for the Beijing Olympics. This short documentary you can actually find on Youtube.
All these amazing stories and great documentaries are a fantastic watch and are one by one great motivators for our own running. In the video below you can see short scenes from all the documentaries. Now until next time, get out there and run.