Sunday, February 24, 2013

Joan Benoit Samuelson & Kathrine Switzer

There's an exciting week ahead for women runners as well as running fans in general.

From a personal standpoint, these celebrations of leaders in women's running couldn't have come at a better time. I'm working on a number of projects related to the subject and these two films are just the inspiration I need!

On Tuesday night, the PBS Series "Makers: Women Who Make America,"  will feature, among many noteworthy women, the amazing Kathrine Switzer. Switzer will talk about her ground-breaking, and, at times, harrowing experience running her first Boston Marathon in 1967.

"I often say that I started the Boston Marathon as a girl, and I finished the Boston Marathon as a grown woman." – K.V. Switzer

I wonder if feisty, funny women are natural leaders or if women have to develop a keen sense of humor to be leaders? Either way, Kathrine Switzer gets it. "The idea of running long distance was always considered very questionable for women because, you know, an arduous activity would mean that you were going to get big legs, and grow a moustache and hair on your chest and your uterus was going to fall out."

What: PBS series "Makers: Women Who Make America"
Where: PBS (Channel 2 in the Twin Cities)
When: Tuesday, February 26, 2013, 7-10:00 p.m. CST

[Fun fact for running history buffs: When the documentary briefly shows the list of results from "K. Switzer's" marathon debut, savvy Minnesota runners especially, might catch the fact that she finished just ahead of Minnesotan Alex Ratelle in that Boston Marathon. Ratelle, who died in 2012 at the age of 87, had run 21 consecutive Grandma's Marathons and in 1996 he was an easy choice for Grandma's inaugural Hall of Fame class along with Garry Bjorklund and Dick Beardsley.]

Then on Wednesday night the documentary film: There Is No Finish Line: The Joan Benoit Samuelson Story will debut in the Twin Cities. Watch an amazing trailer for the film at the link above, where you may also order a copy of the DVD.

"When she went through the tunnel she asked herself if she was ready for what was on the other side." – from There Is No Finish Line: The Joan Benoit Samuelson Story

"Joanie was a front-runner in the women's sports arena and she never left anyone out. She brought everybody with her." – from There Is No Finish Line: The Joan Benoit Samuelson Story

From the documentary description:

There Is No Finish line is a testament to the power that running can bring to our lives. This film celebrates the life and spirit of Joan Benoit Samuelson (Joanie), the first Olympic Gold medalist in the women's marathon.

Within the film are the historic moments of Joanie's improbable 1984 Olympic Gold Medal, her world record performances in Boston and Chicago, the time before Title IX, and her role in changing the perception of female running potential – breaking barriers and inspiring women and men thereafter.

The heart of the film follows Joanie as she is today, training on the trails in her home state of Maine, while still fitting in organic gardening, environmental conservation and time with her family. Her journey climaxes with an inspiring effort at the 2010 Chicago Marathon where she becomes the first woman to break 3-hours in five different decades!

In the end There Is No Finish line... proving whenever and however Joanie's competitive career ends, her spirit and life accomplishments will remain, firing us up to go after our passions, whatever they may be.

What: There Is No Finish Line: The Joan Benoit Samuelson Story, Twin Cities Premiere
When: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Riverview Theater, 3800 42nd Ave., Minneapolis, Minn., 55406
How: Tickets are $10 in advance at or $13 at the door the night of the show.

In addition to Joanie's documentary, two other running-related documentaries will be shown:

"Running The Rockpile:" a documentary about the Mount Washington Road Race


"A Runner's Life:" a short film made by Minneapolis native Alex Nichols about his former college cross country and track coach at Colorado College, Ted Castaneda, a five-time All-American runner in the 1970s at the University of Colorado.

The event is presented by Twin Cities-based Moms on the Run and will include a special appearance by Olympian Carrie Tollefson.

It's going to be a great week!!!

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