Sunday, July 19, 2009

REVIEW: Nova's Marathon Challenge

This week's running movie from Netflix is Marathon Challenge. It is a one hour film originally created and broadcast on PBS as part of the series, Nova. This documentary follows a series of basically never runners, smokers, diabetics, and even an NFL star through an extended training plan over several months to train for and run the Boston Marathon.

This film holds a lot in common "Spirit of the Marathon" that I reviewed earlier. I felt like the hour long runtime did not let the filmmakers explore the trials and tribulations as much as Spirit did. Challenge did an interesting job of exposing the watchers to concepts such as fast vs slow twitch fibers and measuring VO2 max as a marker of cardiorespiratory fitness. During the video, they did not share absolute numbers for these, but visiting the PBS website it was pretty amazing to see just how much some of the competitors improved, one woman may have doubled her VO2 max. They talk about how running alone did not make much impact on weight, but I do not think the competitors were dieting.

Illustrations were interesting, although I thought one of the best was the topographic map of the Boston course which helped put the downhill start and the severity of "Heartbreak Hill" into perspective.

It is a well produced, succinct portrayal of runners and the commitment and hardship of training for 26.2. If you are looking for something a bit more inspirational though, I would recommend "Spirit"

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