‘The Spirit Of The Marathon’

I haven’t read any books or watched any movies about the marathon in the 29 years since Osgood Schlatters disease forced me to stop running them in eighth grade. In the year previous, I finished five.

This new documentary directed by Jon Dunham is professional in every respect and is a pleasure to watch. It follows six runners as they prepare for the 2005 Chicago race. Only two of these folks are world-class athletes — Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga.

I don’t know why the director chose to spend most of his time on amateurs. I’m far less interested in watching weekend warriors tossing a football around than the Dallas Cowboys competing for the Super Bowl.

It’s like going to a Conservative synagogue and having to endure everybody popping off during sermon time with their thoughts on the weekly Torah portion. Why should I care about the Biblical views of people who can’t read Hebrew?


Why would someone want to read a blog when they can read the New York Times?


I care most about people who are particularly hot or fast or smart or particularly adept in some important skill. Ordinary folks are just not erotic for me.

And speaking of sacred eros, women running marathons is not hot, certainly not the ones leading the pack. They lose their breasts — the most important parts of a woman.

This movie doesn’t mention any of the downsides of running, but one frequent bummer for the leading ladies is that they stop menstruating.

I don’t think that’s healthy.

If she don’t bleed, she shouldn’t lead.

Women should confine their athletic pursuits to the bedroom as God intended.

As I watched the DVD, I was taken back to the year of my life I spent running an average of 40 miles a week. It was something I was good at. Boys in particular need to establish things they are good at. The feeling of competency is essential to confident masculinity.

When this fell apart for me, I decided within a few months that journalism would become my path to greatness.

A pioneering female marathoner says: "You triumph over the adversity, that’s what the marathon is all about. And therefore you know that there isn’t anything in life that you can’t triumph over after that."

Well put.

By finishing five marathons at age 12, it gave me the self-confidence that I could achieve anything within my spectrum of abilities if I only applied myself hard enough.

I was interested to see in this documentary that the way people train for the marathon and talk about it hasn’t changed in 30 years — except a lot more people are hugging after their run these days, which repulses me.

I can spot a hugger from a hundred yards away and whenever they close within ten yards of me, I stick out my hand to hold them at bay.

I found it annoying that much of the theorizing in this film was done by the amateurs. Who cares about the marathoning philosophy and physiology of some old geezer who takes more than six hours to finish the race?

God gave old men the capacity to grow long white beards so that they could stay at home and pull on them while they studied Torah.

My worst time was my first marathon: four hours and forty three minutes. I was determined not to get beat by Mavis Lindgren, this 70-plus woman who ran ahead of me for the first half of the race.

My favorite parts of the documentary — about 10 minutes worth — show highlights from the 100-year history of the modern race (established in the 1908 Olympics as 26 miles and 385 yards).

Single mom Leah Caille — I have to admit she’s really cute when she’s not all sweaty and gross and crying from running — talks about the support she gets for her running from her seven year old daughter.

That rubs me the wrong way. Moms who lean on their seven year old kids for support have got something very wrong. Perhaps they should spend more time mothering and less time running.

I’m Luke Ford and I want to be Your Moral Leader.

PS. I hate everybody in this movie because they’re able to do something I’m no longer able to.

I coulda been a contender.

When I was 12, I went up to Robert DeCastella — the world record holder in the marathon — and told him I was going to break his mark one day.

I believed that my ambition and discipline would be enough.

I was wrong.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been followed by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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