Met up with an old work friend and his wife last night for dinner and to watch the one-night event screening of the movie ‘My Run’. For those not familiar with the story, it focuses on Terry Hitchcock who loses his wife to breast cancer, raises his 3 kids as a single father, and decides to run from St. Paul to Atlanta just prior to the Atlanta Olympic games to raise awareness of the issues that single parents face. To accomplish this he sets out to run 75 marathons on 75 consecutive days covering 2,000+ miles. An ambitious plan to say the least, but even more ambitious considering he is over 50, out-of-shape, has high blood pressure, and is not a runner.
This was a very emotional, remarkable film. Although the marathon of marathons is the central point of the story, I wouldn’t call this a ‘running movie’. I’ve watched ‘Running the Sahara’ and ‘Spirit of the Marathon’, which are definitely running movies and left me feeling inspired to get out and keep training and running. This movie is definitely inspirational, but not about running – more about life. The running is shown for what it is – a way to create a platform for Terry to get his message out about single parent families. He says several times during the movie and the Q&A afterwards that there was nothing fun about the running. He wasn’t properly trained and he makes no pretense otherwise. The run takes a massive toll on him physically, nearly killing him and leaving his body broken in several places. They don’t glamorize the mega-marathon, and that’s not the intent. This movie is about setting a goal, sometimes one that folks would call ‘crazy’, and giving every ounce of what you have to achieve it. This man pushed himself to a place that few would even consider going, achieved his goal, spread the message he wanted to teach, and recaptured a bit of his life and his relationship with his family along the way.
The movie itself is extremely well done, and very compelling. There are touching points throughout, both in terms of crushing sorrow and uplifting human connection. The first 10-15 minutes are heart-wrenching. Since most of the movies I see are ones to which I take my kids, the first part of the movie that deals with the loss of his wife reminded me a little of the opening sequence from Pixar’s ‘Up’. By no means do I mean to trivialize the loss his family endured by trying to equate it with a cartoon, but the emotion it invokes is very similar. When Terry’s wife passes away, there wasn’t a dry eye in the theater, mine included. However, it is that sorrow, and the manner in which it is conveyed, that makes the rest of the movie so inspiring.
Just as impressive as what Terry accomplishes is the dedication that his oldest son shows by staying with him throughout the entire run, through difficulties both physical and emotional. I don’t think there are many 20-year-olds that would have done what he did. Heroes aren’t always those most visible.
I would highly recommend seeing this movie if the chance presents itself. You certainly don’t need to be a runner to be touched by this story. We’ve all been touched by cancer, dealt with tremendous loss, felt helpless or hopeless at some point, and this is a story that shows how one man worked through all these things to do something extraordinary in the spirit of helping others. Hopefully it inspires others to find their own personal marathon.