As most of you know, the NYC running community was treated to a free movie screening of “Beyond The Epic Run” earlier this week, and although the city was caught in the midst of a snowstorm earlier that day (as if to mimic some of the sultry conditions featured in the film), we still managed a packed house that night which just in itself was somewhat inspirational to see. Before the feature, I hung out a bit with some local Flyer teammates and a few blogger friends from the outer boroughs. All the spirited conversations on training, racing, and blogging was not only fun, but also served as the perfect warmup for watching a running movie.
As for the movie itself, in a way it was exactly what I was expecting, but in another way, it was entirely not. For those who haven’t yet seen the film (which I suppose will be most of you, since the movie isn’t due for national release in selected theaters until the end of May), this is a reality documentary film about a Swiss couple, Serge and Nicole Roetheli, who left their lives, their kids, and their families for five years to run more than 25,000 miles around the world. [For a more detailed description of the film as well as the trailer, go to my original post on this movie or visit www.beyondtheepicrunblog.com]
Coming into the film, I was expecting to witness the thrilling adventure story of the ultimate ultramarathon. In that respect, the movie did not disappoint as it gave vivid accounts of Serge battling through dehydration in the Sahara [clip], running amidst the Pyramids in Egypt, climbing the Himalayan mountain ranges in Nepal, and fighting through the humidity of Southeast Asia. All the while, we hear about the blisters, the tenditis, and other injuries and illnesses that threatened his physical condition during his 49,000 kilometer, 47 country journey. The demonstration of his indomitable spirit was obvious to all who witnessed it.
But what I didn’t expect to see, and what really touched me about the film, was the transformation of the film from a simple running documentary to a movie about love, sacrifice and passion. For as much as the story revolved around Serge and his quest to run around the world, it was also about Nicole, his wife, who rode beside him in a motorcycle every step of the way. As Serge said himself, his wife served as his coach, nutritionist, therapist, nurse, doctor, pacer, supporter, manager, accountant, cheerleader, and confidant, all rolled into one. It was as obvious to us as it was to him that his epic run would not and could not have been possible without her. Perhaps that is best exemplified by the detour the couple had to take when Nicole suffered a life-threatened form of malaria and had to fly back to Sweden for treatment. [clip] I was struck by how well they both worked together as a team; each knowing their own role and responsibility even as they were truly dependent on each other. It was a testament to the meaning of true love and devotion (as Dr. Joy Browne points out in her interview with the couple).
Finally, I was inspired by the passion and dedication they showed to the project despite all the trials and tribulations they had to suffer throughout their travels. Without going into too much detail (so as not to ruin the movie for you all), I was impressed by the sacrifices they had made and the faith they showed in themselves, in each other, and in the project as a whole to see the epic run to its conclusion. As I imagined myself going through some of the experiences they had to go through, I am not sure I could’ve lasted more than a month or two out there, much less five years. It was truly an amazing story, and a very inspirational one at that.
My overall assessment of this movie is most definitely a positive one. Although I have some small gripes about the movie, i.e. I wanted to hear a little more about his general training and running history prior to embarking on this epic adventure. I also would have liked to know how he got involved in ultramarathoning and if his diet and training differed from that of an average trail runner or even a trail marathoner. Still, I felt the film delivered a very strong message, which is that if you have faith, passion, and a strong support team, you can pretty much achieve any goal you set for yourself.
Because of Serge and Nicole, I left the theater that night full of energy and excitement , as if I too could run forever and conquer the world. If only I can remember and reiterate such sentiments when I’m at the start of the Boston Marathon next month. My own epic journey will be set to begin in 7 short weeks. Yikes! I’m anxious but intrigued to find out how that story will turn out. Only time will tell!
Thanks for reading my review of “Beyond The Epic Run”. I highly recommend checking out the film when it comes out nationally in your neck of the woods at the end of May. It is safe to say that you will NOT be disappointed.
Have a great weekend, everyone! (Don't forget to turn the clocks forward Saturday night...Daylight Savings, here we come. Wahoo!)