Runner’s High (2006)

I’m getting behind on these Hot Docs reviews. I saw Runner’s High (2006) on the weekend and it is the best film I’ve seen so far .

Director Justine Jacob followed a few high school students from Oakland, California as they trained for the Los Angeles Marathon. I was amazed that some of the students stuck with the program — Students Run Oakland.

The training is hard and requires a great deal of discipline and focus. Most of the teenagers I know would rather skip practice, play on their XBox or hang out at the mall.

The film is very inspiring and well-directed. The camera work is incrediblly smooth. You feel like you’re gliding along with these kids as they run. The editing is also very effective, especially during the actual marathon.

As a viewer you experience the highs and lows of the race. The excitement at the starting line is incredible. Thousands of participants begin the race trying to pace themselves but near the end of the marathon, people are walking, limping, struggling to reach the end.

Some of these kids suffer injuries along the way and you’re not sure if they are going to make it. As an audience member you want them to finish the race. All of a sudden you’re there on the sidewalk with them, hoping that they can find the strength and courage to continue.

When one of the kids named Fred (pictured), reaches the last mile and runs across the finish line I found myself overcome with emotion, happy and relieved that he finished the race. Completing the race is a huge accomplishment for these kids and made for a great documentary film.

Posted in Movie Reviews at 10:12 AM