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Movies of the Month: 2002

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June 2002:

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Go Wild! Fitness:
All-Terrain Workout Northern California

If you have been looking for an exercise tape that set in the great outdoors, with an instructor that is more like a training companion than a drill sergeant barking out repetitions, then look no farther than this outstanding fitness adventure workout. If you are stuck inside due to poor weather, a newborn, or you just want to leave the city streets behind for a day, then you won't cheat yourself from a good workout with this tape. Your host for this 50 minute workout is Jenn Varno, an experienced marathoner, trail runner, triathlete, and avid outdoorswoman who is also a certified exercise instructor. Jenn lets you follow along at home as your mind is taken to the beautiful sights of Northern California mixed with a well blended soundtrack of Spanish, Celtic, blues, and acoustic guitar that helps put the mind at ease as the body moves into action. Remember to bring a small fan into the room with you to keep the air flowing and here is a look at what you will be doing in this workout:

Windy Hill Open Space Preserve is where the first 10 minutes are spent for the warm-up and stretches in the Cyprus grove. Starting with some jogging, the workout progresses with walking lunges, "crazy legs", side shuffle, cross reach and ending with balance work. The stretches include four major muscle groups: the quads, hamstrings, shoulders, and calves. Pinnacles National Monument is next for nearly 20 minutes of cardiovascular work, including five sprint sets. These series of exercises are really fun to do with Jenn's clear instruction and such a beautiful sunny environment. Start with some strides with upper cuts, then comes the surfer jump, wall shuffle, vulture flaps, skier combo, jumping, minute of madness and traverse trail before the peak of the workout comes in the form of the sprint sets. The camera work, music changes, and editing bring the running segment into great form as you sprint towards natural landmarks rather than time. There are no telephone poles to count out in these great outdoors as you race towards gnarly rock, double ghost pines, sticky monkey, the overlook and finally the end of the canyon. Big Basin Redwoods State Park is where you will find some challenging balance work in addition to some strength work in the form of kickboxing around the tree, rock climber, standing abs and bow pull, and more lunges (you will be sore tomorrow if you haven't been doing these recently). The last 12 minutes of the workout is at Pescadero State Beach for more strength work and the cool down. Your balance will be challenged while doing the chair, warrior, and flying seagull before you are down on the ground for some pushups, sit-ups (great variety with these) and back lifts. The last three minutes provide a final stretch before the creative credits begin to roll with the "Go Wild Song" that was specially written for this production.

One of the joys to running is being outside and this is as close as I can imagine to accomplishing a great cross training workout at home. You will be encouraged, motivated, and best of all looking for a time to return to this workout. You will find pride recording these sessions in your training journal and maybe a bit surprised when you wake up the next morning and find your body sore where you have not been sore for some time.To place an order visit

May 2002:

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Marathon Fever
A film by Steve Alpert

This 24 minute film covers four athletes as they prepare for and compete in the 1978 Johnstown marathon. (This marathon has remained much the same now as it was then, a small local event with about 100 participants who run through a very scenic route each October in western Pennsylvania.) In this film, director, producer, and editor Steve Alpert (read interview), with his crew of 6 cameras, captures a host of filmmaking techniques to pull together a production that earned him numerous film festival honors, both domestically and internationally. The use of light, close-ups, panning shots, long shots, slow motion, overhead and low angles, gives any viewer a cinematography experience. George Grande is the narrator and the storytelling is woven to tell four distinct stories that transition well between one another. The first half of this movie introduces each of the athletes and during the marathon each runner plays out their own race experience. Here are the "hometown stars" in order of appearance:

Sam DiFrancesco is a 45 year old attorney, and family man, who has been running for 10 years. He says that he is trying to kick the tranquilizers that he has taken for 26 years and with his self doubts and low self esteem you wonder if this may catch up to him during the course of the race. He also does not believe in "the wall" that many runners describe at around the 20 mile mark when energy reserves run low.
  • "I've always viewed myself as being a failure. I'm 45 and really what have I done?"
  • "I think I can go the whole distance. I think I can finish it and I think I can finish it in a respectable time."
Jennifer Amyx, at age 8, is an experienced runner with 55 world records ranging from the mile to the marathon (see current marathon records by age). She runs with her older brother, David (a record holder in his own right), and her father, Doctor Herb Amyx who points out "I guess in a sense they are guinea pigs. Medically, scientifically, you have to say there is not enough data to know what the long term effects in small children are." They are running over 100 miles weeks, as much as two months prior to race day, in preparation for this marathon.
  • "I'd like to beat my best time in the marathon this year and I'd also like to run the 50 miler."
  • "Because they have been able to achieve at an early age they have a feeling of self worth and they feel good about themselves" ~ Pat Amyx
Christine "Teeny" Thompson is a nurse and grandmother and at age 53 has decided to run her first marathon. Following a stress test she began increasing her daily 3 mile run by a half mile each week until she reached 50 mile weeks. Her husband, Joe, states "Physically she is a very strong person, mentally an exceptionally strong person, probably stronger physically and mentally than I am."
  • "Men around my age say I've gone far enough, now don't go any further, you'll hurt yourself, you'll have a heart attack. But I just wave and go on and say ‘well, I haven't filled the quota for today so it'll be a few more miles’."
  • "I'm determined to finish it. The only way to get me off the course is to drag me off. Once I've started I'm determined to run the whole way."
Kerry Green, at age 24, is an Olympic hopeful and the local paper is predicting him to win the Johnstown Marathon. He describes his strategy of going out hard and using the hill at 17 miles as a place to make his move if other runners are still in contention.
  • "I think that is the whole thing with life, if you enjoy what you are doing than you can get the maximum at it. And even if it takes a lot of work, and a lot of hard effort, it's still what you enjoy doing, so you can put more effort into it."
  • "In the background you're thinking: I'm going to put myself through that effort again that will just feel so awful. Am I ready to do that? Are the people around here ready to do that? And you're not sure; you don't know."
To see how these athletes take on their challenges (and the results may not be what you think) you will want to view the rest of this movie yourself. Thankfully, Steve Alpert (sapix(at)earthlink(dot)net) has taken this film off the shelf and has made it available in VHS format for those who send a payment of $19.95 (includes shipping and handling).
Send your check or money order to:
     Steve Alpert
     760 West End Ave
     New York, NY 10025

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April 2002:

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16 Days of Glory

Bud Greenspan has been know for many many years as an extraordinary story teller. For most people they would look back to this film as his breakout moment when the public fully saw the extent of his mastery. The first 20 minutes set the mood of this documentary with the torch relay and opening ceremony events including excerpts from the march of nations, the Olympic flag, and Rafer Johnson lighting the Olympic flame.

More than runners are featured in this film as Yasuhiro Yamashita, from Japan, is featured in Judo, swimmers Rowdy Gaines and John Moffet are featured, and gymnasts Mary Lou Retton and Ecaterina Szabo are also portrayed with their unique stories. It was not the results of the competition as much as the tale of the athletes that this film sets out to capture. Each of the segments are moving and by the time you watch this 147 minute production you will be taken back in time to some amazing feats of Olympic accomplishment. Plan on visiting an auction web site, or visit to order your own copy of this film.

Each of the follow four segments that contain running footage lasts a bit over ten minutes each, with the decathlon coverage extending over 25 minutes. Running footage is presented below in the order shown in the film:

Men’s 5000 meters: WR 13:00.41 (David Moorcroft)
The focus of this segment highlights Dave Moorcroft’s Olympic experience, starting with his July 1982 lowering of the world record by five seconds in Oslo to make him one of the favorites for this event. 1983 was a year of injuries including a stress fracture, hepatitis, and a pelvic disorder. The semi-final race is shown with the six fastest advancing to the final, including John Walker and Säid Aouita, all trying to conserve their energy as they qualified. The day of the final Moorcroft was in intense pain due to his pelvis shifting. By the second lap he was in last place, yet he continued on, and states in this film: "I've never, ever, dropped out of a race yet, mainly because if once you do you have given yourself the option in the future." With Aouita completing the last lap in 55.08, he sets an Olympic Record of 13:05.59, and Moorcroft continues on to "complete his long and painful journey with honor".

Men’s 400 meter Intermediate Hurdles: WR 47.02 (Edwin Moses)
With a gold medal from Montreal in 1976, Edwin Moses had extended his winning streak to 102 (including 89 finals) since 1977, making him the favorite in his specialty event. This story is told in a large part though the perspective of Myrella Moses (Edwin’s wife) who wore a microphone during the final. This event followed directly after the women’s 100 meters, shown in it’s entirety and won by Evelyn Ashford in Olympic record time of 10.97. Next the final of the intermediate hurdle race is shown in addition to slow motion footage and a victory lap celebration that concludes with Myrella saying, "I’m so glad it’s more Olympics...I’m finished." (Moses did return in Seoul four years later, running a faster time than in Los Angeles (47.56 vs 47.75), to earn a bronze in his last Olympic showing).

Decathlon: WR 8798 (Jürgen Hingsen)
Each of the events are shown as Daley Thompson (Great Britain) and Jürgen Hingsen (Germany) each strive to be known as the best all around athlete. Thompson leads right from the start with a 10.44 100 meter time and maintains his lead, also turning in the fastest 400 meter race at 46.97, to end day one with a 114 point lead. Starting day two is the high hurdles and slow motion footage has Thompson isolated and filmed from below looking through the hurdles as he races towards the camera. Crunch time comes in the discus and as Thompson explains, "that was the biggest moment for me, ever. That was everything wrapped into one.". Hingsen states after the pole vault "I couldn’t reach him anymore, that was clear, I just had to finish, as a real athlete finishes, still trying to do my best."

Women’s Marathon: WB 2:22:43 (Joan Benoit)
Although it is Joan Benoit who claims the title on this day, it is primarily Grete Waitz who is on screen sharing her experiences as the event unfolded. When Benoit left the main pack at 3 miles Grete notes "I thought it was too early to leave the rest of the field. I thought Joan Benoit would slow down and that we would catch her in the end." At about 19 miles Waitz picked up 10 seconds in her chase, yet she recalls "I got a littly bit closer, but not so much as I hoped, and at that point I knew there was no way I could catch her". Benoit claims the first women’s Olympic marathon gold medal and the top four finishers are shown in addition to Joyce Smith, who at age 46 was the oldest track competitor in Los Angeles, and Gabriele Andersen-Scheiss who suffered from heat prostration (and recovered within hours of the event). This segment ends with the awards stand presentations before the closing ceremony is presented to end this film.

March 2002:

Sydney 2000 Olympics:
Bud Greenspan’s Gold From Down Under

The 22 minutes segment from this production capture perhaps the greatest night in track and field history, September 25, 2000. The action is woven together as if you were watching each of the individual events placed in context with other athletes and the crowd as the evening progresses. No other production has given the feeling, as if you were issued your own media pass, as you engage is each of the spectacular performances. The nine athletes in order of appearance include:
  • Stacy Dragila in the first ever Olympic women’s pole vaulting competition with 13 finalists. You return to this competition between each of the other events as the bar is raised and fewer and fewer women remain in the competition.
  • Kathy Freeman starts the evening of running with the open 400 meter race. Favored in her specialty event she tries to not go too fast too soon. The race announcer states " What a legend! What a champion!".
  • Michael Johnson has to wait for the victory lap to end before he has his opportunity to race in lane six, where Freeman just competed. Isolated shots of Johnson show his unique upright running style.
  • Virgilijus Alekna, from Lithuania, throws the discus 227 feet 4 inches in the fifth round to win the discus. He greets Johnson during his victory lap.
  • Anier García from Cuba sets a personal best in the final to upset the Americans who have a strong history of dominating the 110 meter high hurdles, having won 19 of the 24 past Olympic games.
  • Gabriella Szabo continues her winning streak in the 5000 meters as O’sullivan from Canada challenges her over the last 200 meters. The winning time is an Olympic record of 14:40.79.
  • The men’s triple jump winner, Jonathan Edwards finally wins at age 34 with a third round effort of 58 1 1/4 inches.
  • Maria Mutola wins the first ever Olympic gold medal for Mozambique in the women’s 800 meters. This is her fourth Olympic games running at this distance
  • The emperor, Haile Gebrselassie starts the last running event, the 10,000 meters, at 10:30 PM. With 500 meters to go there are three Kenyans and two Ethiopians in contention. This race is outstanding, simply outstanding.
Narrator Will Lyman ends this segment with the following quote before portions of the closing ceremony are shown: "And so it was done. And those who witnessed it will remember and cherish it throughout their lifetime. Nine gifted athletes, who on this night gained Olympic immortality. There is much honor to those who made it to the top step of the victory podium. There is much honor to those who made the attempt, but of the nine who achieved glory this night perhaps the memory that will remain the longest is that of Kathy Freeman. For never before in Olympic history have the hopes and dreams of an entire nation be placed in the performance of a young woman who first ran for herself, then for the people of her heritage, even more now she runs for the first time for all of Australia."

Also on this tape is a 17 minute segment on the men’s decathlon competition featuring Chris Huffins trying to hold off Erki Nool and Roman Sebrle. Other sports are also featured on this tape such as the USA baseball team led by Tommy Lassorta, cycling, equestrian, swimming, and the first Olympic triathlon competition. This tape is not widely available, so be prepared to bid if you see it up for auction.

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February 2002:

Becoming a Champion Distance Runner
with Doug Brown, former University of Florida Head Coach

If you are in your first few years of distance running or looking to update your method of coaching then this presentation is sure to have something to offer you. Coach Brown presents his information standing in front of a white board with notes already prepared. This is the type of talk often presented to coaches clinics to start off the high school track and field season. One of the bonuses are several cut away shots of collegiate athletes performing the concepts as they are presented. With about 15 topics presented, this video is tailored to athletes and coaches who are primarily preparing for a 5,000 meter race performance, whether in cross country or on the track. The sections include topics such as a pyramid of fundamentals, sample workout cycle, circuit training, race strategy, males vs. females, nutrition, running logs, cross training, road racing, shoes, a word to the parents, and injuries.

21 minutes of this hour long presentation is focused on sample workouts and circuit training and is some of the strongest material presented. The two week cycle is broken down day for day with many examples of options to fulfill the need for longer intervals, shorter intervals, distance, slow/fast, and hills. The circuit training schedule includes 15 steps that is repeated for a workout that lasts 30 to 45 minutes. Coach Brown credits Owen Anderson from Running Research News for these drills that are used in lieu of weight training to aid the endurance and strength aspects of the pyramid that is presented right at the beginning to illustrate how all the pieces fit together.

Quotes from Coach Brown:
  • "A hard easy training cycle is the fastest way to get better."
  • "What is a race? It’s the best longer interval workout you can do. It’s basically 1 x 5,000 meters all out with no rest. That’s pretty good."
  • "You can’t win a 5,000 meter race in the first mile, but you can sure loose it. Run as evenly paced as you can. This is the best, simplest, and most effective race strategy that has proven itself through the ages."
The information here is solid, tested, and is sure to provide you a greater ability to reach your fullest potential if you are just starting out as a distance runner. This 2002 release was once made available through Championship, however they discontinued VHS format tapes in the summer of 2007 taking this title out of print.

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