Movie theaters around the nation were not full of average moviegoers on Wednesday, April 19. Many were clad in Boston’s iconic yellow and blue, some wore running shoes and very few were drinking soda. It was an unusual crowd for an unusual movie, in all the best ways.
“Boston: An American Running Story” aired for one night only in select theaters and received four and a half stars on Fandago. The two-hour documentary told the story of the first, longest standing, and most iconic marathon: Boston. The documentary is not just about the history of Boston, but the history of running itself. Narrated by Matt Damon, the film tells every distance runner’s favorite story, the tale of Phidippides, who ran 26 miles from Marathon, Greece, to Sparta to deliver a message, then, as legend has it, died. It takes viewers to the first Olympic Marathon in Athens, and the first Boston Marathon shortly after. It covers Boston’s course with Bobbi Gibb, the first woman to unofficially run the race by sneaking in through some bushes by the start line. A year later, viewers run alongside Katie Switzer, who made it into the course officially by registering under a man’s name.
This documentary does not limit its coverage to that of the elite runners and race winners. It is about the history of the race and all who were involved. It’s about the spectators, the law enforcement officers, the race directors and the press. It’s about the coaches and the families of those who make their way to Boylston Street each year to cheer on their favorite athletes. It’s about the hard work and miles put in my thousands of athletes, who ring the “Boston Qualifier” bell from coast to coast each year.
While the film may be titled “An American Running Story,” it’s not an American running story at all; it is a universal running story. It is a story that all runners can understand, whether they have conquered Heartbreak Hill or not. It is a story about perseverance, resilience and strength.
A documentary about The Boston Marathon would be recluse if it did not tell the tragic story of the finish line bombings in 2013. Survivors, family members, spectators and law enforcement officers tearfully tell the story of the alarming events that shook the running community around the world, reminding audiences the meaning of “Boston Strong.”
The meaning of the film can be boiled down to one single sentence, the closing line from a Boston race volunteer: “It’s really about the human spirit; whether you’re an elite runner or the last finisher, everyone is a hero.”