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Running Movies

Web Puts it in Motion

Published July 28, 2003 in The Post-Standard.

By Dr Kamal Jabbour, Contributing Writer

An accidental discovery on the world-wide web yielded a wealth of video material on running, chronicling the history our sport in a new dimension. The brainchild of runner Mark Hale-Brown, RunningMovies.com documents 475 video titles of movies and documentaries that contain a significant running component.

Hale-Brown embarked on his project in fall 2000, when he stayed home for twelve weeks with his newborn child. During that time, he acquired and watched many running videos in between diaper changes. His personal collection grew to over 150 titles, and his desire to share his research led him to develop the web site. The site does not sell videos, but includes links to various retailers.

RunningMovies.com catalogs running videos into seven categories: Feature Films, Olympic Games, Documentary, Biographical, Instructional, Foreign Films and Special Events. Obviously, several videos appear under multiple categories. The site also provides an alphabetical listing, indexes and features. Besides identifying and cataloging running videos, Hale-Brown compiled detailed reviews of the material, including his own commentary on many videos.

Feature films include such classics as The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runners, The Jericho Mile and Marathon man, and odd movies like Personal Best, Naked Prey and Second Wind. The category also lists several black and white and silent movies with running content.

Movies and videos documenting the Olympic Games range from the 5-hour epic story of the first Olympics, to documentary footage from more recent games. The Official Films of the Olympic Games chronicle every Olympics since London in 1948. Bud Greenspan.s The Olympiad Series of twenty tapes is an epic in its own right. From down-under came an Australian series of six tapes of Olympic Golden Moments.

With over sixty titles, the category of biographical videos tells the story of running through the athletes whom we grew to admire. In addition to such favorites as Chariots of Fire (Harold Abrahams, Eric Liddell), The Four-Minute Mile (Roger Bannister), Running Brave (Billy Mills) and Without Limits (Steve Prefontaine), this category contained less-famous titles of well-known heroes.

In fact, Said Aouita, Bob Mathias, Haile Gebrselassie, Jim Ruyn, Lasse Viren, Sebastian Coe and Emil Zatopek have all inspired movies. Among female runners, movies have documented the lives of Babe Didrickson, Miki Gorman, Kathy Miller, Gail Devers and Wilma Rudolph.

The instructional category is by far the most prolific. With thousands of self-proclaimed experts around the world, novice and expert runners alike can pick-up a video to learn how to jog or to follow holistic training to run a sub-2 hour marathon without ever leaving the couch.

RunningMovies.com is indeed a valuable resource to expecting fathers and running enthusiasts alike.

© 2003 The Post-Standard.

Kamal Jabbour runs and writes on the hills of Pompey, New York. His RUNNING Column appears in The Post-Standard on Mondays. Dr.J. created TrackMeets.com, webcasting live Every Lap of Every Race. He receives email at jabbour@i2sports.com.

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