Monday, April 28, 2008


Run To This Movie.

Going into tonight, I knew I was going to have a positive bias towards this film. After all, as a native New York runner, what would there be to not like? So, I tried hard to keep an objective mind about it, a clean slate of what to expect, if you will, and I entered into the theatre acting, well, acting stupid.

It didn’t work. Within the first five minutes of this documentary, I was hooked. Everything about this film was extremely well done. The director has a great way of being able to describe a lot of detail in less than 2 hours, and does so in such a moving way, that you leave feeling like you were a part of this wonderful man’s life. This wonderful man was none other than Fred Lebow, long time President of the New York Road Runner's Club, and founder of the present day 5 -borough New York City Marathon, which started in 1976.

I could go on forever giving you every wonderful detail about this documentary, but why do something that the director has already done so well, and so much better than I could ever do? The reflections by the people interviewed were top notch. The people selected for the interviews were top notch. This wonderful archival footages of New York City, The New York City Marathon, and of the man, Fred Lebow, are incredible.

Halfway through the movie, I began to realize that I had a smile on my face that lasted since the movie began. I decided to peel my eyes away from the screen for a quick couple of seconds. Sure enough, there were many other people like me with the same silly expression. We were all somehow transported back in time, to Lebow’s world, when running was considered rebellious, fun, and fad. There were tons of funny moments and the movie also had its touching moments throughout, with the final few minutes that I bet left not a dry eye in the house.

Tonight's (Sunday 4/27) 9pm was not the first showing of this film at the Tribeca Film Festival. That took place on Friday 3:30pm. However, it was the first in which George Hirsch, and Bob Glover were in attendance. From 1978 to 1987, George Hirsch was the founding publisher and president of The Runner magazine at which time it was merged into Runner's World. He retired in 2004 and is now the Chairman of the Board of the New York City Marathon. Bob Glover, has been with the NYRR for over 30 years. He has written several best selling books to include the Runner’s Handbook, an incredible compendum on how to run. It’s a great read whether you are a beginner all the way to include the elite competitor. Bob also holds free classes to teach about running. In fact, I remember having the opportunity to attend one of those classes. I remember it well too, because, Fred Lebow was there, and it was there where he made it public that he had brain cancer. Of course, Fred said it in his own way, and was so upbeat about it, that it almost seemed like an easily defeatable foe. That was the one thing about Fred. No matter how much (or little) things worried him you would never know, because he was always a pillar of positivity to all his fans and runners.

The movie ended to a rousing and long applause. When the credits ended, we applauded again. When Judd Erlich, the producer & director of the movie took the stage, we applauded again. It was a heartwarming documentary, and one that touched all aspects of the pulse of New York City, especially during the hey-days of the seventies.

The music, all original I believe, was great. The editing was even better than that. With all the transitionary and special effects you can tell that this was no ordinary documentary. Bob (Glover) and George (Hirsch) both got up on stage with the film crew, and did a little Q & A. There were several heartwarming stories from both, including the one where Bob made a promise to Fred who was in his last days that he would train Moshe, Fred’s nephew to run a marathon. Fred’s wish was that someone else in his family would run a marathon. As Bob told the story, he was choking with emotion. And as he passionately finished his story, we were choking back our tears right along with him.

So two marathon movies have come out this year. Spirit of the Marathon was a great film, but Run For Your Life was beyond a great film. It was great filmmaking too. I will definitely plan on Running For The Video Store should this gem ever come out on DVD.
I’ve seen thousands of films. This might have been perhaps the greatest biographical documentary I have ever seen. Even if you could care less about running, or about New York, you will highly, highly enjoy this film. I guarantee it!

Rating: 10 out of 10 Gonzos. A Perfect Score.

Below again is a preview to this film. Fore more, I would suggest visiting the website directly at

Today was not just limited to the Tribeca Film Festival or even the premiere party at Reboot on Avenue A that preceeded it. There was actually a race today! The Alley Pond 5 Mile Challenge, to be exact. There were incredible highs with a little bitter pill at the end. There’s too much to write about it now (it’s 1:11am), but I will follow up tomorrow and give the full blow-by-blow.
There is a lot to tell!

1 comment:

rundangerously said...

great review! my friends and i went to the sunday afternoon show also. great movie. i hope it gets picked up by a distributor!