Unrated | 1h 30min | Documentary
Review - Matt Mungle
*Now playing in select theaters*
Synopsis: Today, all anybody needs to run is the determination and a pair of the right shoes. But just fifty years ago, running was viewed almost exclusively as the domain of elite male athletes who competed on tracks. With insight and propulsive energy, director Pierre Morath traces running’s rise to the 1960s, examining how the liberation movements and newfound sense of personal freedom that defined the era took the sport out of the stadiums and onto the streets, and how legends like Steve Prefontaine, Fred Lebow, and Kathrine Switzer redefined running as a populist phenomenon.
Review: The documentary FREE TO RUN is a brilliant insight into what many of us today take for granted. We see people of all ages, genders, and nationalities running. It is as common as grocery shopping. But not so long ago only a small handful of people did it and others found them quite strange. Too were women who wanted to run but were banned from doing so. The stories here are inspiring and at times mind blowing.
It seems almost science fiction to watch the news footage and view photographs depicted in this film. Grown men of presumed intelligence, leaders in sports and medicine, proclaiming that if women were to run more than 100 meters it could damage them forever. In the 1950's and 1960s! Not the stone age. The brain can barely process the idiocy. When the Boston Marathon first started women were not allowed to be in it. To hear Kathrine Switzer recount those early days is riveting. Then to watch the progression as the sport took off and seeing footage of the first ever Female Olympic Marathon is emotional and cheer worthy.
But not just the women were having issues. Here we see actual footage of track star Steve Prefontaine advocating the rights of amateur runners to be paid for their sport. Something unheard of in the 1970's. We see the early grassroots movements of companies like Nike and watch as Avon aids the rights of women runners.
At the heart of the film is the NY marathon and how it went from a handful of Central Park runners to the mega event it is today. Much of this due to the hard work of a few dedicated enthusiasts who just liked to run. Personal stories and memorable accounts from some of the leading proponents of the sport of running make FREE TO RUN an inspiring, emotional, and informative Documentary.
Though unrated it contains a couple of brief adult images. A must see for runners and anyone inspired by what a few dedicated enthusiasts can do.