Review– Excellent Ultrarunning Film – SPIRIT OF A RUNNER – Mark Dorion

Monday night, after watching the poor old Browns get thumped by the Ravens, I watched the excellent ultrarunning film THE SPIRIT OF A RUNNER (a 28 min. film by Jessie Beers-Altman, Boston University, 2009).  Most of it captures the training and 3100 mile race experience of American Suprabha Beckjord.

For those who do not know, 53 year young Supra. Beckjord is one of the greatest multiday runners in history.  I have talked with her in person and always find her to be extremely humble, with an “aw shucks” demeanor.  She is so small and unassuming, YET I know she has to be so very tough mentally. So it was fun, in the film, to watch her daily training in the parks of Washington D.C., see her working in her gift shop in D.C., hear her chatting with friends, etc.

I thought the film vividly captured the spirit, highs and lows of a multi-day ultra race.  I must admit that some of the close-up footage of runners’ blistered, torn-up feet was a bit tough to stomach as I was eating dinner while watching.  Some scenes were also so moving emotionally that I felt a tear trickling down my face.  Some of the action scenes were especially well-choreographed/ scored.  I (and others) also thought that the race director, Rupantar LaRusso, showed true star potential with his down-to-earth, boyish enthusiasm and insightful observations on all aspects of ultrarunning.

One friend of mine who is from Europe opined that the film would do well in Europe and Asia, but some of the psychology and philosophy of these tough runners would be “lost” on US ultrarunners.  The excellent interview (Nov. ULTRARUNNING) with Tour De Mont Blanc finisher Jenny Uehisa touches on some of these differences.  Jenny noted that in Europe the races “seemed like more of a team effort,” and that “the runners seemed less concerned about their finishing time than they do in the U.S.”  I think that also sums up a difference between the New York Self-Transcendence multi-day races and more typical US.

I will find out more specifically how to obtain a copy of this stirring film.

Best wishes to all ultrarunners,

Mark Dorion
El Paso, TX


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