Boston the Documentary

(I should probably start this off by saying that, despite what it may sound like, no one ever asked or paid me to see or talk about this movie. This is just a write-up of an event I, your friendly local non-monetized blogger, thoroughly enjoyed.)

Boston: The Documentary has been on my radar for awhile, so when I finally had the chance to see it last Wednesday, I was pumped. Running for Kicks had organized a screening at the Marcus Orland Park Cinema, which, as you may have guessed, was a bit of a haul from Chicago, but worthwhile nevertheless.

Brooks helped sponsor the event, which meant we got a goodie bag! The $10 ticket to the movie not only granted you admission to the screening, but also got you a Brooks bag, journal, bracelet and beanie (!!), along with a coupon to Running for Kicks, a CARA flyer, and a pen. I didn’t price check anything, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that the contents of the bag alone certainly cost more than $10, never mind the movie, so all in all, this was a pretty good deal.


The movie itself, as the name not-so-subtly implies, is about the Boston Marathon. The director, Jon Dunham, is the same guy who put together Spirit of the Marathon I and II, the former of which I have now watched five times, as watching that movie is a hallowed part of my Friday-night-before-the-Chicago-Marathon routine, and it definitely felt Spirit of the Marathon-esque. While Spirit of the Marathon (or at least the first one; I haven’t seen the second one) follows six runners as they train for and eventually run (and, in the case of Deena Kastor, win) the 2006 Chicago Marathon, Boston focuses on the running of the 2014 Boston Marathon, particularly in light of the terrorism that occurred at the finish line of the 2013 race. While the 2014 race is the metaphorical sun around which the rest of the movie revolves, it also takes a significant amount of time to discuss the history of the race. I knew the Boston Marathon had been around for a long time, and I knew about Bobbi Gibb, Katherine Switzer, and Rosie Ruiz, but that was about where my knowledge of the race began and ended. The movie was super informative and really made you appreciate the work that so many people have put into building this event into what it is today.

The movie also gives you a cool behind-the-scenes look into the race’s management today, which is honestly something I think every runner, particularly every marathoner, could stand to see. I have played an excessively small role in putting on races, and I don’t think the average runner begins to comprehend the amount of work and coordination it takes to pull even a small race together. It is not close to being as simple as mapping out a course on MapMyRun or Google Maps and then setting up a registration page, at least not if you want to put on a real, sanctioned event. You need to coordinate with the municipality, you need to coordinate with the police, you need to coordinate with medical staff, you need to coordinate with vendors, you need to coordinate with the timing company, you need to coordinate with the alderman, you need to coordinate with USATF–and that’s just for your standard out-and-back on the Lakefront Trail sort of affair. Imagine how many times over that’s multiplied when it comes to something like the Chicago Marathon, where you’re running a World Marathon Major–so now you need to coordinate with that legislative body as well as USATF and anti-doping agencies–entirely on city streets–so now you need to coordinate with the CTA and the police and Streets & San–through goodness knows how many wards–so now you need to coordinate with goodness knows how many aldermen. It is, I can only imagine, an INSANE effort, and Chicago at least has the advantage of taking place all in one city. Boston runs through EIGHT different municipalities, all with their own governments, police departments, fire departments, etc., so you have to do all of that work eight times over. Just seeing the number of people in the room at a meeting about emergency management two months before the race drives home what kind of work it takes to put on something like the Boston Marathon.

The movie comes out on iTunes (and other digital outlets) today, and will be available from streaming through various providers on Dec. 19. If you’re looking for inspiration, or even just an inside look at the Boston Marathon, I definitely think it’s worth your time and money.


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