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Movies of the Month: 2003

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June 2003:

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Middle and Long Distances
Gold Medal Track & Field Series


This 43 minute instructional tape from 1999 is one of four tapes in the Gold Medal Track & Field Series. The other three tapes in this series: Sprints, Hurdles, and Relays, are combined onto one DVD with James Williams from Humbolt State University, Jumps with Charles Craig from Cal State-Bakersfield, and Throws with Randy Heisler from Indiana University. The producer and writer is Kam Miller, direction by Doug Fink, and brief stock footage of elite athletes competing is provided by Action Sports Adventure. The cover art is a photo from the 1996 Atlanta women's 5000 meter race featuring Elena Fidotov of Romania (wearing yellow) who finished 7th in this race (15:16.71) and Amy Rudolph, representing the United States, who finished 10th (15:19.77). There is no video action of this race present in the video.

The host and content consultant for Middle and Long Distances is Coach Mike Poehlein. Poehlein is in his 30th year as head coach of the Men's Cross County team at Purdue University. He is a national Olympic Development Program coach, and Level III Instructor, for the 800 and 1500 meter events and has served as coach for the 1990 Goodwill Games, 1994 Pan-African Games, and 1997 Pan-American Games. He was named Big Ten Coach of the Year in 1985 for cross country and again in 2001 for the indoor season in Track and Field. Poehlein's expertise is shown as he narrates the techniques as the Purdue Collegiate athletes demonstrate the described content. Although women are featured on the cover of this video, men are primarily seen demonstrating the running techniques. Much of the running is in slow motion, the transitions from different sections use music and graphics, and the main points are written on the screen to emphasize the concepts.

After some introductory content this film jumps right into the examination of running form. Next, two drills are introduced prior to showing the three phases of the training season: Conditioning, pre-competition, and competition. Five minutes are dedicated to training methods that include the following: Steady pace training, fartlek, anaerobic threshold training, repetition, intervals, and pace-surge. The concept of "stress than rest" is discussed. The next 18 minutes outlines each of the three stages applied specifically to the 800 and 1500 meter events. Numerous conditioning drills are described and shown including plyometrics and specialty strength exercises. Training both under and over distance as well as hill work is illustrated in the pre-conditioning phase. The competition phase shows speed methods, tactics and strategies for racing. The last eight minutes of this production covers some variations of the mentioned material with specific emphasis on the 3,000 meter to 10,000 meter track events. If you are wanting to focus your training attention to the middle or long distances than this tape will have something to offer to you as you head into your season.

You may order this video new from the manufacturer at Human Kinetics.com (NTSC or PAL format) where you may also see a one minute clip with either Real Media or Windows Media player. Amazon.com also offers this video and if you combine it with another purchase you will receive free shipping.


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May 2003:

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The Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei

The narrator opens this 57 minute documentary by saying: "The ultimate test of human athletic endurance is the marathon; a 26 mile cross country dash reflecting the achievement of a Greek messenger in the year 490 B.C. Today the unrivaled champions of this endeavor are not the professional stars, but an order of Tendai Buddhist monks whose monastery is in central Japan. They are the Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei." This film follows Tanno Kakudo, the sixth man to attempt the feat since World War II and only the 46th monk since 1885. Over the course of seven years the 1000 marathons cover 27,000 miles. He sees the physical ordeal as a spiritual event to seek enlightenment.

Most marathons take between six and seven hours as he stops at the 270 sacred sites including temples, tombs, ponds and images on Mount Hiei to chant and recite prayers that are outlined in a handwritten manual called a tebumi. For the first three years he carries his Higasa hat (shaped to represent a lotus leaf breaking the surface of water) and wears his straw sandals without any socks. Starting the fourth year tabi socks are permitted and starting the fifth year he begins using a wooden staff called a byakutai gyōja. Tanno Kakudo lives each day as if it is his last and has vowed to end his own life if he fails in the daily pilgrimages. He finds joy and satisfaction when he comes back alive and well.

Upon completion of the 700th marathon, ending the fifth year, is the start of the dōiri, a nine day confinement without any food, water, rest or sleep. Over 100,000 chants are conducted and he leaves the shrine each night to walk to a pond to obtain an offering to Fudō Myō-ō, their deity. He completes the journey in twelve minutes the first night and by the last night, having lost a quarter of his body weight, the task takes eighty minutes. Tanno now has three weeks to regain his strength before the marathons increase each day to 37 mile pilgrimages, during the sixth year, that leave the mountain into the cities below.

The last year of marathons consist of two sets of 100 52 mile (84 km) marathons. Taking about 18 hours daily to cover this distance, sleep is limited to a couple of hours nightly before the route is again covered the next day. After completing the last marathon, Tanno Kakudo begins an eight day fire ceremony where prayer sticks are offered to Fudō Myō-ō which is his final right in his quest for enlightenment. His followers believe he is now a "living Buddha" and teaches by example and possesses great spiritual insight.

To order this film you will need to contact Documentary Educational Resources who obtained rights to distribute this film in late 2002 and whose prices are directed towards institutions, although individual-use-only copies can be obtained for $49.95. This film was completed in 1992 based on the book (featured in the picture) Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei by John Stevens, who himself was a marathon monk. The book has an extensive history of Mount Hiei, Tendai Buddhism, a complete glossary, and the practices of the "Running Buddhas". For additional perspective read an article that appeared December 1996 in Ultra Marathon Running that was written by Holly A. Schmid entitled The Spiritual Athlete’s Path to Enlightenment. The film was directed by Michael Yorke while Harry Miles Muhiem gives narration to this fascinating film production. The writer and producer was Christopher J. Hayden who is considering returning to Japan to do a follow-up documentary.

Some quotes from Marathon Monks of Mount Hiei include:
  • "I wanted to do it, I asked, and they let me."
  • "The first and last day of the 1000 day walk are no different; the beginning is the end and the end is the beginning. Your only aim is to achieve your initial purpose, then you can really enjoy what you have done. There is no backing out. When you have finished what you have set out to do you have created something of huge value."
  • "The more you suffer the more pleasure you get from what you are doing. If you let your mind dwell on the pain you will debase it. If you only think about the pain you are not ready. The pain is only a technique so you can learn to overcome it. To get to the top you have to climb the mountain step by step. If you find that painful you should not have set out on the journey in the first place. It is not the pain that really matters, pain is only a symptom of the effort you are putting into the task."
  • "Never look back, be forever mindful of others, and keep the eyes at all times set on the way. If you do this, the Marathon Monks are telling us, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished."

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April 2003:

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Lady Warriors

Lady Warriors is the compelling story of the Tuba City High School girl's cross country team during their 2000 season on its quest for a fourth consecutive state championship in Arizona.The film chronicles the events from the summer trip to the Wolf Creek Running Camp in Utah to the final race at the Arizona State Meet. Throughout the film we watch the Lady Warriors grow; we share their experiences; witness their lives; see where and how traditional and modern life intersect while learning about their hopes and dreams. John C.P. Goheen (read interview) produced, directed, photographed, and edited this exceptional documentary and he can be contacted for more information at Jgo10@aol.com. Music is blended well and performed by native artists, including Keith Secola. The video was released by Corbis Production in 2002 with distribution rights currently from Filmakers Library, and be sure to ask for the 90 minute version (they also offer a 56 minute version) as you will not want to miss a moment of this movie. To view a short trailer using your windows media player visit Terranova Pictures.com.

The Coach: Milfred Tewawina acts as the narrator and brings his experience as a Division I top ten finisher back to his home town in the role of coach as he leads his team. The town of Tuba City, and reservation life, is revealed through his eyes and his vision is rich and insightful. Team selection, meetings, travel, motivational talks, recruitment letters, race plans, and advocacy for the team members is all handled in the finest fashion. You will have to watch this film to see team rituals that will leave a lasting impression. In the coaches own words:
  • "My workouts that I'm giving these girls are comparable to the runners that are at the Division I level, just a notch lower. My philosophy is that I do not want to burn these girls out and I believe, I truly believe, that I am giving these girls workouts where I can get the best out of them at this level, but the same time save them for later on, later on, if they want to compete at the collegiate level."
  • "People come down here and live the life that we live I'm sure that they would be humbled when they leave from here because this will really teach you who you really are and what you are really about if you can live this kind of lifestyle."
  • "Customs and traditions are pretty darn strong around here. In order to become successful you need to believe in something and you need to know where you come from because knowing where you come from and knowing what you believe in your going to be successful"
  • "One thing that I've always preached among these girls is that running serves a purpose in their lives. There are no boundaries for anyone."
  • "In the Anglo way you have to win to succeed but in the native way it doesn't matter where you come in. What matters is that you participated and finished. For some of these girls this will be their greatest achievement in their whole life and for the others it's only the beginning. Today they honored themselves, and their tribe, and in the native way they have all contributed to life."
The Runners:
  • Ciji Honahnie, Hopi: As a junior she won the individual 3A title after placing second the previous two years. Will she be "on" when she competes in the state championships this year?
  • Marietta "Bitsie" Riggs, Navajo: Will the team captain meet her goal of finishing in the top ten in state this year?
  • Christina Begay, Navajo: Running since fifth grade, will she maintain her academics to have eligibility to travel and compete for her team?
  • Jayme Lomakema, Hopi and Navajo: She has a tough attitude, yet without a goal will she end the season on a good note?
  • Crystal Dugi, Navajo: She ran all Summer and enters the season in great shape. Will an ankle problem slow her progress and affect her determination this year?
  • Khrysten Seweingyawma, Hopi, Navajo and Black: She broke through last year onto varsity. How will her efforts during practice sit with her memories of this season?
  • Brandi Atene, Navajo: Initially, she wanted to have fun and stay in shape for basketball yet this freshman surprised the team by making varsity during the time trial. With a hard "initiation" during the first meet leading to cuts and scabs, how will her running lead to new goals if she stays focused?
The Film Festivals and Awards: Lady Warriors has appeared at nearly 20 film festivals and for a complete list visit Terranova Pictures.com. Some of the highlights include:
  • Denver International Film Festival - October 2001
    People's Choice Award-winner
  • American Indian Film Festival - November 2001
    Best Documentary Award-winner
  • Durango Film Festival - March 2002
    Audience Award-winner
  • Phoenix International Film Festival - March 2002
    Best Picture Award-winner
  • International Family Film Festival - April 2002
    Best Documentary, Runner-up
  • Saguaro Film Festival - May 2002
    Best Documentary Award-winner
  • Maine International Film Festival - July 2002
    Best Documentary, Runner-up
  • Santa Fe Film Festival - December 2002
    Best Native Film-winner
Postscript: The three senior girls (Bitsy, Ciji, and Christina) entered college and each has continued to find success in their running as their teams have all finished in the top 10 in their divisions. Milfred went on to coach for another school, Grey Hills Academy, for the 2001 season. He coached both the boys and girls cross country teams, taking the boys to state for the first time in any sport, finishing 5th. Milfred chose not to coach during the 2002 season.


Voted #3 Best FilmOrder at Amazon.com

March 2003:

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Endurance

It is not often that a major motion picture company sets out with two directors to make a documentary about a 10,000 meter runner. With this selection that is exactly what happened. Disney contracted with the top eight 10k runners during the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games with director Bud Greenspan capturing the Olympic footage knowing that documentary filmmaker Leslie Woodhead would return to their home country to film the story of the winner. Haile Gebrselassie was the winner and the crews packed their bags for Ethiopia.

This movie is featured this month because of two outstanding running scenes: The first is a three minute cut at the beginning of the film of Gebrselassie running effortlessly along the countryside. With only the sounds of footstrikes and breathing mixed with the original soundtrack you will be captivated to learn more about this man's life that will soon be told. The second memorable scene is at the finale of the film where we are in the Olympic Stadium in Atlanta in 1996 watching the conclusion of the men's 10,000 meters. The runners kept in a pack with a slow first 5,000 meters. The pace quickened for the second 5,000 which was covered in 13:11.6 (a time good enough to win 18 of the previous 19 Olympic 5,000 meter races). Gebrselassie's last lap took 58.49 seconds and his winning time of 27:07.34 took nearly 14 seconds off Brahim Boutayeb's 1988 Olympic record. About nine minutes of footage with is woven into the story in reaching this final climax.

This film is Rated G (initially given a PG rating, it was re-edited), with a running time of 83-minutes. Production was completed in 1998 and it was released in theaters in the United States on May 14, 1999. This movie then became available on video March 21, 2000 and was distributed by Walt Disney Home Video/Buena Vista Home Entertainment. You can purchase the VHS tape used through Amazon.com. If you are interested in having this title released in DVD format, let Disney know by requesting the title from them. John Powell composed the musical score and you can order the soundtrack at Amazon.com.

Although Gebrselassie speaks a bit of English at the very beginning of the film, the rest is spoken in Amharic and it is subtitled. The story is broken into sections every five to ten minutes with captions: Six miles to school; Three hours each day to fetch water; Every year a new brother or sister; Escaping the farm for an afternoon; To the hospital; First marathon: 99th place; Two years of hard training; A thousand others with the same dream; and Chosen to run for Ethiopia.

We learn during the course of this film that Gebrselassie’s role models were former Ethiopian champions Abebe Bikila (winning two consecutive Olympic marathon golds) and Miruts Yifter (winning the 10,000 meter gold medal during the 1980 Moscow games). Both of these athletes are shown during their Olympic competitions. Rounding out the glory on the awards stand in Atlanta in 1996 was Paul Target from Kenya bringing home to silver and Salah Hissou from Morocco capturing the bronze.

At the conclusion, on the screen it is stated: "Runner’s World, America’s foremost track magazine, recently declared Haile ‘the greatest distance runner of all time.’" Based upon the Haile Gebrselassie’s 26 world records (with his first set in the 5000 m, 12:56.96, set in Hengelo on June 04, 1994, and his latest road record in the marathon, 2:03:59 set September 28, 2008) not to mention the two Olympic Gold medals and World Championship medals, it would be a difficult to disagree.


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February 2003:

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Marathon of the Sands

This is the 14th running of the "Le Marathon des Sables" as captured by Outside Television in this 1999 video that lasts for 47 minutes. The athletes experience 148 miles of running in the merciless heat of the Sahara Desert of Northern Africa, one of the most extreme environments on Earth. To some of those who dare, it's a transcendent foray into the timeless sands of Morocco. And to the rest, it's an awful test of the limits of human endurance. With 580 competitors, from 28 different countries, starting this race you will be hosted by Peter Young during each of the six stages of the event. Tim Powell gets credited as producer, writer and director of this video that can be purchased through Amazon.com. The video has seven break periods where the screen is black for up to ten seconds, where commercials once were once inserted, although the sunrises and sunsets are beautiful frames to these breaks in the action.

These athletes must be totally self sufficient, although the race provides water and berber tents, they must carry their own food, clothing, and sleeping bags. Nine people share a tent together and the tents are taken down at 5:30 each morning. The course is marked with painted stones, although there are sections of orienteering during some of the stages.
As one competitor says, "I've done Ironman several times and that's a breeze. I've done Eco-Challenge and that was easier than this."

Featured Athletes Include:

Lahcen Ahansal, Morocco. The 1997 winner looks to regain his title, although he must first overcome a 30 minute penalty for not providing his passport.
Fabrizio Bernabei, Italy. He finished third last year. Will he improve his performance this year?
Cinzia Arduzzoni, Italy. She has her sights set on a victory here after finishing second in last year's contest. Will her body and mind withstand the test?
Lisa Smith, United States. Last year she was bit by a scorpion and crawled to the finish. Can she become the first U.S. winner of this event?

Stage 1: 18.6 miles, Temperature 84 degrees at the 9:30 AM start time. Not too many dunes, however some severely rocky terrain. As one athlete expressed himself: "This is like...this is...I don't even know. It's like...have you been out there? It's whacked! It's whacked out of shape is what it is." Twelve runners drop out during day one. Are those remaining prepared for the test that has yet to come?

Stage 2: 20 miles, Flat with some sand dunes, and more foot aching rock. Suffering is bringing people together. Who will be at the back of the pack with the camels today?

Stage 3: 23 miles, 6 mile section of steep sand dunes and a section were the athletes have to provide their own orienteering. When the athletes go off course and miss a safety checkpoint, how far will they go astray before the safety helicopter must intervene and those athletes start to backtrack?

Stage 4: 48 miles, The longest stage in the history of this race. 9:20 start time with the top 100 athletes starting three hours later. Estienne Arndt, from South Africa, states: "We've done this distance before and one thing I'm nervous about is I know how far 74 kilometers is. It's a long, long way. That's actually...I think it would be better to not know how long 74K is." You will visit the medical tent where feet have taken a beating and they don't use any antiseptic. With nightfall comes new fears and challenges as people navigate in the desert without any light. How many will become confused and disoriented if they continue to push themselves?

Stage 5: 26 miles, "Dune Day" with the second highest dunes in all of the Sahara Desert. The hottest day yet with 120 degree temperatures. Spirits are high with the end in sight, although the men's leaders are just seconds apart with one more day to go.

Stage 6: 12.4 miles, The final day, ending in the city under balloons and cheering spectators. Emotions are strong at the finish and you won't see much running today as the focus is placed on the finish line.

Lisa Smith: "Everyone in this race is a hero"
Michele Schaiman: "This experience has taught me that there is a very deep deep reservoir of strength that I have in myself that I didn't know I had."
Narrator, Brian Bastien: "Suffering has much to teach. It is this that makes people long to return year after year."

See other Ultra Running films.


Voted #1 FilmOrder VHS at Amazon.com

January 2003:

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Fire on The Track:
The Steve Prefontaine Story

This 58 minute documentary film preceded two other motion pictures depicting the story of Steve Prefontaine, Prefontaine and Without Limits, and was originally broadcast on CBS on June 4, 1995. Here there are no actors. The script is provided by the research and rare images and footage of this great American runner as the story unfolds as recalled by those who knew him best. You will see Prefontaine run indoors, outdoors on the track, in cross country, in the 1972 Olympic games, as well as his last race at Hayward Field. There is also interview footage where Pre reviews his performance and forecasts into the future. Told in chronological order, this film begins in Coos Bay, Oregon and Marshfield High School where Pre's National 2 mile mark of 8:41.5, set in 1969, still stands. He joined the University of Oregon under the guidance of Bill Bowerman and for four years never missed a workout or race. During his collegiate years he set nine collegiate track records and never lost a race more than a mile in length. For a full listing of his accomplishments see the Official Athletic Site at the University of Oregon. The Olympic 5000 meter race is covered from many perspectives as well as his activism and ongoing record setting performances following the games. His life was ended abruptly in an automobile accident on May 30, 1975 and many people review the events and express the impact that Steve Prefontaine had on their life and running in America.

Fire on the Track was the winner of the 1996 New York Festival World Silver Medal. A perfect balance and tempo is maintained throughout the film with the use of narration, provided by Ken Kesey, the original soundtrack by Project One Audio, and blended still and moving images. Erich Lyttle is the director of this video and he is joined by Ken Kesey and Kenny Moore for the writing credits. Research was conducted by Bill Goetz and Tom Jordan (the author of the book Pre: The Story of America’s Greatest Running Legend, Steve Prefontaine). This film is made extraordinary by the use of the story tellers that include Pre's family, coaches, team members, rivals, girlfriends, sports writers, and more. The 55 people who bring this story to life are credited at the end of this film and include:

Ray Prefontaine Elfriede Prefontaine Neta Prefontaine Linda Prefontaine Bill Bowerman
Bill Dellinger John Gillespie Kenny Moore Roscoe Divine Phil Knight
Frank Shorter Jon Anderson Steve Savage Arne Kvalheim Knut Kvalheim
Pat Tyson Nancy Alleman Walt McClure Phil Pershian Jaakko Tuominen
Lasse Viren Dave Bedford Ian Stewart Brendan Foster Mac Wilkins
Jeff Johnson Dave Wottle Tom Jordan Wendy Ray Georgia Pope
Alberto Salazar Russ Francis Mark Feig Steve Stageberg Dave Taylor
Emiel Puttemans Mary Slaney Erich Segal Dana Carvey Garry Hill
Jon Hendershott Blaine Newnham Jos Hermans Larry Standifer Dick Buerkle
Tom Feuer Jeff Galloway Matt Davis Jack Ralston Steve Miller
Nelson Farris Keith Richard Brian Kanker Rich Clarson Don Dickover

If you want to obtain this film the best option is to visit Amazon.com and order in VHS or DVD format. This video has also been sold at the Prefontaine Classic track meet each summer. If you love the sport of running, and want to understand how Prefontaine made such an impact, then this is a must see movie for you. Put it at the top of your list for movies to own as you will watch it over and over and your friends will stand in line to borrow this one.

Quotes from Steve Prefontaine:
  • "If you are a runner your never completely satisfied unless you get a World’s Record."
  • "All I can say is I hope I can stay fit and if I run like this in Munich I’ll be pretty hard to stop."
  • "Running doesn’t pay your bills so you get to make a lot of sacrifices to be in amateur sports in this country."
  • "There’s a lot of factors that make me run. Probably the biggest one is that I enjoy it, or I acquired an enjoyment for it after so many years of running; it’s part of my life now. Another reason would have to be the Olympic Games and trying for a gold medal, and the third thing would have to be competition. I love to compete against people and not just track and field but almost anything."
Read about the Collector’s Edition of this film.
Other films about Steve Prefontaine include Without Limits and Prefontaine.


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