Taking one more step when you think you can't — that's the spirit motivating the inaugural Running Film Festival, a screening of three films focused on the culture of running, its challenges and its triumphs.
Organized by local independent film promoter Garry Harrington, the festival caters to and promotes the prominent culture of health and fitness that Colorado Springs enjoys and practices. And as has been made clear after the recent bombings at the Boston Marathon, it's a culture that engenders so much more.
The festival consists of two shorts and a full-length documentary, all from 2011. Running the Rockpile focuses on the grueling annual 7.6-mile Mount Washington Road Race. Colorado Springs' Simon Gutierrez won the men's portion in 2005, clocking in at one hour and 54 seconds. A Runner's Life follows famed All-American runner and Colorado College coach Ted Castaneda. And full-length film There Is No Finish Line documents the rise of Olympic gold medalist Joan Benoit Samuelson, who competed in 1984, the first year of the women's Olympic marathon category.
Harrington hopes to have Gutierrez on hand for the screening; already confirmed are Castaneda protégé and assistant coach at CC Alex Nichols, as well as Martha Cooksey, who competed alongside Benoit Samuelson in the 1984 Olympic trials.
Benoit Samuelson is 55 now and still going strong. The director and writer of her biopic, Erich Lyttle, describes her "like a water bug jumping around like mad. She never stops. She is an environmentalist, health nut and crazy runner."
The two met right before Lyttle started to shoot, and became fast friends. He kept up with Benoit Samuelson even as she prepared to run in this year's Boston Marathon, for which he says her motivation was a meaningful anniversary: It was in 1983 that she won and set a record for finishing in Boston that went unbroken for 11 years.
"The reason she ran this year was because it was 30 years later," Lyttle says. "She made a pact to herself, she wrote it on her shoes that she had to come within 30 minutes of her time 30 years ago. She finished about 45 minutes before the tragedy. She ran about a 2:52, and she ran a 2:22 in '83."
While Lyttle is obviously captivated by Benoit Samuleson, he's also drawn to races because beyond running, they're about charity. And that couldn't be more appropriate today, especially given that before last week's tragedy, the last mile of Boston had been dedicated to the victims of the Newtown, Conn., massacre.
Harrington says that there will be a tribute to the victims of the bombing in Boston during the festival. He is asking that all attendees who have attended the Boston Marathon wear the jersey they wore that day.