There’s no question about it – watching people just like us pushing their limits and achieving their personal goal is both inspiring and motivating.
If you’re looking for something new to watch, then you must look at this list of the best running documentaries.
You’ll follow runners as they question their sanity, struggle through adversity, and display immense courage.
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THE BEST RUNNING DOCUMENTARIES TO WATCH NOW
The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats It’s Young
Rule #1. Don’t talk about the Barkley Marathons.“
The Barkley Marathons is a gruesome 100-mile race that traverses through the Appalachian mountains in Tennessee.
This race is not for the sane, or for those who like to have things planned and scheduled in advance. The race entry is a secret process, the race date is announced after your acceptance into the race, and the start time is one hour after the conch shell is blown.
There are no trail markings, no GPS allowed, and only one master map.
Those who dare will face 120,000 feet of elevation change, equal to climbing and descending Mount Everest twice.
For some, watching the Barley Marathons is definitely preferable to running it.
Watch now: The Barkley Marathons
Boston – The Documentary (2017)
Boston’s the marathoner’s marathon. […] It provides the canvas for all those wonderful struggles and stories to unfold.”
Boston – The Documentary delves into the history of this legendary race. You’ll learn how the Boston Marathon grew from its humble beginnings to the race it is today.
This documentary stands apart from other running movies because it films the massive planning and coordination of the 118th Boston Marathon, the year after the devastating events at the Boston Marathon.
You’ll see stories of strength, courage, and how the city embodies “Boston Strong”.
Watch now: Boston The Documentary
The Breaking2 Project, a Nike experiment, wanted to see if a sub 2-hour marathon was possible. That’s 4:34 minutes per mile, for 26 miles.
Watch as Nike attempts to stack marginal gains to make the impossible possible.
Nike recruited three elite marathoners – Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia, Zersenay Tadese of Eritrea, and Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya. Then, athletes underwent a battery of tests to develop individual training plans.
On the Formula 1 racetrack in Monza, Italy, you’ll see what happens when marathoners run in almost perfect race conditions.
I want to tell the whole whole that no human is limited.” – Eliud Kipchoge
Watch now: Breaking2
Desert Runners (2013)
Would you run through four deserts to test your mettle?
That’s what the four runners in Desert Runners aimed to do.
Desert Runners follows aspiring ultra marathoners attempting run the 4 Deserts Grand Slam – running four deserts in one calendar year.
The 4 Deserts Race Series consists of running 250 kilometers (155 miles) in seven days through four deserts: the Atacama Desert in Chile (the driest desert); Gobi Desert in China (the windiest desert); Sahara Desert in Egypt (the hottest desert); and Antartica (the coldest desert).
You’ll become well-acquainted with the film’s runners and their inspiring stories.
Watch now: Desert Runners
The Man with the Halo
Tim Don, Olympian and triathlon World Champion, set his sights on the 2017 Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii.
But two days before the race, while riding in the bike lane, a truck hit Tim and broke his neck.
The best option for full recovery – that is, to return to racing – was a halo.
The Man with the Halo documents his determination, grit, and comeback.
Just six months after his accident, Tim ran the 2018 Boston Marathon in 2 hours, 49 minutes, and 42 seconds.
The best goals are the ones that are a bit crazy, maybe to some people a bit unachievable, but that’s what drives us. It is doing what people say we can’t. It is pushing our bodies to the max.”
If you’re returning to running after an injury, you might want to check out this post on returning strong post-injury.
The Spirit of the Marathon II (2013)
If you’ve ever thought about combining an Italian vacation with running a marathon, then let this movie inspire you to book that ticket.
The Spirit of the Marathon II is the sequel to the 2007 Spirit of the Marathon, both directed by Jon Dunham.
The movie follows seven runners of wide-ranging abilities – from a first time marathoner to an Olympic hopeful – as they train for the Rome Marathon.
The marathon is about rebirth, regeneration, overcoming the impossible. That’s what it’s all about for each of us.”
Watch now: Spirit of the Marathon II
The Why, a film by Billy Yang, tackles the question most often posed to ultra marathoners: Why 100-miles? Why such an extreme distance?
The race begins in Leadville, Colorado where runners must cross 100 miles at high altitude over the Rocky Mountains.
You’ll watch as Billy reflects upon the film’s central question. And, you’ll see him push through the pain and experience the joys of running the Leadville Trail 100.
When it’s your time, is your goal to leave a well-preserved body? Or do you really want to use it? A body with stories that says you’ve pushed it and at times suffered and you sought its potential?”
If you’ve watched all the best running documentaries on this list, you may be interested in this article of the best running books to read now.