Movies About Running: Explore inspirational movies about running that capture the determination, strength, and triumphs of athletes on the track and beyond.
In cinema, the art of storytelling takes on various forms, transcending boundaries and inspiring audiences. One niche within this world of narratives is the genre of movies centered around the sport of running. These films encapsulate the spirit of human determination, the pursuit of personal excellence, and the challenges that athletes overcome both on and off the track. From heart-pounding sprints to grueling marathons, these movies delve into the lives of runners, offering a captivating glimpse into their struggles, triumphs, and the unbreakable spirit that propels them forward. So read on to find out what are the best movies about running.
Let us delve into a selection of movies that beautifully capture the essence of running, highlighting its physical, emotional, and metaphorical significance. From iconic classics to modern gems, these movies remind us that running isn’t just about the race. It’s about the journey and the unyielding drive that keeps us moving forward, step by step.
1. On The Edge (1985)
Former long-distance runner Wes Holman (Bruce Dern) was disqualified from competition 20 years prior for revealing payoffs in amateur athletics. However, he has now decided to compete in the Northwest’s tough, hilly Cielo-Sea Race. Furthermore, many younger runners have been defeated by the competition, but middle-aged Wes might be ready to take on more than just a race if he seeks the assistance of his former coach (John Marley). Additionally, along the way, he rekindles his relationship with his father (Bill Bailey) and ex-girlfriend (Pam Grier).
2. Chariots Of Fire
In the class-divided and religiously tense landscape of early 1920s United Kingdom, two determined young runners gear up for the upcoming 1924 Paris Olympics. Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Christian brought up by Scottish missionaries in China, views running as a way to worship God and abstains from practicing or competing on Sundays. On the other hand, Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross) overcomes anti-Semitism and class biases in his unyielding pursuit of victory, inadvertently sidelining his cherished relationship with Sybil (Alice Krige). You can watch this film on Amazon Prime.
3. Without Limits
Steve Prefontaine (Billy Crudup) emerges as an unlikely track star at the University of Oregon before achieving a spot in the 1972 Munich Olympics. During his time at the university, Steve develops a profound bond with Coach Bill Bowerman (Donald Sutherland), even though their initial interaction involves a disagreement about employing the front-running strategy. In addition, Mary (Monica Potter), a stunning co-ed, is significantly impacted by Steve and begins to fall for him.
Larry Murphy (Peter Strauss) is incarcerated in Folsom Prison for life on a charge of first-degree murder. Murphy, a prisoner who prefers to be by himself, spends a lot of time jogging around the facility’s track. Murphy attracts the attention of the jail staff when he starts covering a mile in under four minutes, and they consider entering him in the Olympics. Despite his initial opposition, Murphy finally begins training to compete in the Olympics.
Teen outcast Ralph Walker (Adam Butcher) is having problems at his Catholic school in Ontario, Canada, in 1954. To make Ralph spend his time more effectively, the headmaster (Gordon Pinsent) places him on the school’s cross-country team when he is caught smoking. When Ralph learns that his hospitalized mother has fallen into a coma, he decides to run in the Boston Marathon in the hopes that, if he succeeds, God will perform a miracle and restore his mother’s health.
6. Running Brave
Running Brave recounts the real-life tale of Olympic runner Billy Mills. He emerged from obscurity on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and achieved an astounding feat by securing the gold medal in the 10,000-meter event at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. The film portrays how Billy Mills (Robby Benson), a Dakota runner, left his reservation for college and achieved the remarkable victory of winning a gold medal in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. For more films that motivate you to give your best, read ‘Best Movies About Underdogs‘ to leave you inspired.
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7. The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner (1962)
The fleet-footed Northern English town of Nottingham is home to Colin Smith (Tom Courtenay). But Colin is a disobedient kid who uses running as an outlet to escape his difficult circumstances. Furthermore, he is sent to a reform school after being caught stealing money from a bakery. There, the cunning governor (Michael Redgrave) promotes sports as a means of rehabilitation by having Colin compete in a foot race against a prominent rival school. However, the governor is unaware of Colin’s resistance to being punished.
8. Spirit Of The Marathon
Director Jon Dunham created the documentary “Spirit of the Marathon” in 2007. It follows six marathon runners as they train for and participate in the 2005 Chicago Marathon. The documentary was showcased at the Chicago International Film Festival on October 5, 2007, and received limited distribution in the US on January 24, 2008. The film depicts the journey of three amateur runners and two professional racers as they prepare for the race. It is the first feature-length film to fully capture the spirit, drama, and unique spectacle of the renowned 26.2-mile race.
9. Running On The Sun
“The Badwater” is considered the world’s most challenging race, featuring forty competitors. This documentary explores the reasoning behind this seemingly brutal race while tracing the runners’ struggles as they cover 135 miles across Death Valley in July. The film celebrates the resilience of the human spirit in the face of physical limitations.
10. Personal Best
Young sprinter Chris Cahill (Mariel Hemingway) strives to reach her athletic potential until she meets seasoned track star Tory Skinner (Patrice Donnelly). Their friendship develops as Tory and her coach (Scott Glenn) assist Chris with her training. Gradually, Tory and Chris establish a close friendship and a romantic relationship. But as Chris’ progress puts them in competition for a spot on the Olympic team, their relationship becomes more complex.
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11. Run Lola Run
Manni (Moritz Bleibtreu), a small-time thief from Berlin, makes a crucial mistake by leaving a payment of 100,000 on a subway train while delivering illegal goods for his boss Ronnie (Heino Ferch). Ronnie gives Manni’s lover, Lola (Franka Potente), 20 minutes to retrieve the money. The movie, visually and philosophically striking, follows Lola as she dashes through the city’s streets, seeking help from her bank manager father (Herbert Knaup) in a race against time to save Manni.
12. Run For Your Life
This documentary delves into the life and passion of Fred Lebow, the driving force behind the New York City Marathon. Combining old and new footage with recollections from past winners, casual runners, volunteers, and local officials, the film chronicles the evolution of the marathon. The initial 26.2-mile race through the five boroughs in 1970 had only about 100 participants. Over time, the race transformed into a global event that attracted participants and spectators from around the world. Watch this film on Amazon Prime.
13. Desert Runners
In the 2013 documentary “Desert Runners,” Jennifer Steinman follows a group of amateur runners as they strive to complete the 4 Deserts, a series of ultra-marathons renowned as among the world’s most challenging. Their journeys test their physical and mental limits while taking them through some of the planet’s most breathtaking landscapes. A diverse group of amateur runners endeavors to conquer the toughest ultra-marathon race series on Earth.
For years, Julius Arile and Robert Matanda have thrived among the roving warrior bands that roam the northern Kenyan countryside. By their mid-20s, their expertise revolved around stealing livestock and evading the police. When they suddenly disappear from the bush, many fellow warriors assume they’ve been captured or killed. However, they’ve actually traded their weapons for sneakers, aiming to become successful marathon runners.
15. McFarland, USA
In California’s Central Valley, track coach Jim White (Kevin Costner) is a newcomer at a high school with a significant Latino student population. As Coach White and his new students get to know each other, they discover that they have much to learn. Also, when White recognizes the extraordinary sprinting potential of the boys, things begin to change. Their competitiveness isn’t solely fueled by their physical abilities. But it also stems from their tight-knit communities, exceptional work ethics, and team loyalty.
Which one of these movies about running do you love the most? Tell us in the comments below.