This 52 minute presentation is packed full of marathon history, starting with the myth of the original running from the ancient Greek battle that inspired the race to the modern day Olympic competitions. The first ten minutes covers several topics from the story of Pheidippides, traditions of the Boston Marathon, Olympic contests (1952 and 1960), and the toll the human body endures to complete the demanding distance. The next eleven minutes pursues the original stories of the Greek messengers and how the historian Herodotus preserved the stories in writing. There is still debate on what legends tell us and what likely occurred. At 23 minutes the modern day Olympiad is presented with six featured races (1896, 1900, 1904, 1908, 1948, and 1968). The following six minutes outlines women’s role in this race, from individuals such as Kathrine Switzer to events like the Avon marathon, International and European Championships, and the inaugural running in Los Angeles in the 1984 Olympic games. Just a few minutes are used to report the "running boom" in the United States during the 1970’s with a focus on the New York City Marathon. The last ten minutes is a collection of aspects to the race from wheelchair competitors, the Spartathon ultra event, and commentary from race directors, doctors, and historians.
Here is a alphabetized listing of the runners shown in this production, a literal "who’s who" of marathon accomplishment.
Male Athletes: Abebe Bikila, Felix Carvajal, Ron Dixon, Etienne Gailly, Tom Hicks, Ibrahim Hussein, John Kelly, Yiannis Kouros, Spiridon Louis, Alain Mimoun, Jim Peters, Peter Pfitzinger, Dorando Pietri, Alberto Salazar, Frank Shorter, John Stephen, Michel Theato, John Treacy, Mamo Wolde, Emil Zátopek.
Female Athletes: Gabrielle Andersen, Joan Benoit, Ingrid Kristiansen, Rosa Mota, Wanda Panfil, Joyce Smith, Kathrine Switzer, Grete Waitz.
"The marathon. It’s the ultimate athletic event which embodies every challenge. It’s a race against other runners, against time, against oneself. It’s a race that pushes people past their limits. It’s a symbol of human achievement. Every runner who runs this race is a hero." ~Narrator Stig Eldred
"It’s painful to train. It’s even more painful to run the marathon and get to the 20 miles or eighteen miles and something happens to you and you fight through it. You get through it. You drink more water, you slow down, you cry, you fight. And you finish. It is a great great feeling of finishing." ~Fred Lebow, Race Director, New York City Marathon
"The marathon, when you run one, gives you a sense of significance that no other event does. I think that there is three reasons, one because of the intrinsic difficulty of distance. Two, because you are doing it in a special place- it’ from someplace to somewhere, or you go right round and there is a sense of conquering of a particular place. And then three and most important is the sense of history. When you run a marathon you are running in the footsteps of Abebe Bikila, Joan Benoit, and Donald Pietri, and Phidipedies. And certainly marathon runners love to feel that they in some way added their own tiny bit to the myth." ~Roger Robinson, Professor and Historian
"A marathon race is something begun and finished. It’s a completion. It’s a mental completion and a physical completion. It’s something that stays ingrained in your soul and memory and even in your body forever, and that’s the beauty of it. You can look back at it and It’s a day, a part of your life that has a certain eternity to it." ~Dr. Norbert Sander, Sports Specialist
What makes this tape noteworthy is the sense that all who run the marathon contribute in some unique way to the history of the event. This film really put together research, archival footage, and narration to make it one that you would not want to miss if you have the opportunity to see it. Top Shelf Productions provided the 1996 videocassette release of this 1992 production, however when searching for a current source to obtain this film all the sites linked back to Amazon.com in England (PAL format). The biggest problem with this source is they sometimes run out of copies to sell.