The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats its Young1 of 11
In the mountains of Tennessee, a crazed race director named Laz hosts a race that's based on a famous prison escape. In 15 years, only 10 people have finished. It only accepts 35 runners per year. The course is unmarked, changes yearly and is some of the most treacherous terrain in the continental U.S. And yet, people keep coming back. This is a film you don't want to miss.
Chariots of Fire2 of 11
The classic "Chariots of Fire" tells the story of Harold Abrahams, a Jew, and Eric Liddell, a Christian, who both represent Britain in the 1924 Olympics in Paris. Based on actual events, it also features one of the most recognizable scores among sports movies of all time. You'll probably also recognize the opening scene of runners bounding together along the ocean shoreline.
Motivational Quote: You came to see a race today. To see someone win. It happened to be me. But I want you to do more than just watch a race. I want you to take part in it. I want to compare faith to running in a race. It's hard. It requires concentration of will, energy of soul. - Eric Liddell
McFarland, USA3 of 11
No one would dare keep this feel-good flick off this list. An editors favorite, Mcfarland tells the true story of a coach who arrived at a predominantly Latino high-school in California's Central Valley. As he becomes immersed in the team's culture, he discovers their amazing running ability and uses their tenacity and talent to shape them into champions.
Without Limits4 of 11
If you're a runner, chances are you've heard of Steve Prefontaine, the record-breaking distance runner who was killed in a car accident at 24 years old. Without Limits is Prefontaine's biographical film (the second one made), and features a cocky Billy Crudup as Prefontaine and Donald Sutherland as Bill Bowerman. It's an unforgettable look at an incredible life.
Motivational Quote: I'd like to work it out so that at the end, it's a pure guts race. If it is, I'm the only one who can win it. -Steve Prefontaine
Saint Ralph5 of 11
In "Saint Ralph," teenager Ralph Walker vows to win the 1954 Boston Marathon in hopes of giving his dying mother a miracle. It's a long shot for Walker who, when he joins the school's cross country team, cannot even keep up with the others through short distances. Still, with help from his running coach, Father George Hibbert, Walker trains for the 26.2-mile journey and takes a shot at the renowned race.
Motivational Quote: Most marathoners will tell you, around mile 20, they start praying for any kind of help they can get. -Father George Hibbert
The Jericho Mile6 of 11
Convicted murderer Larry Murphy wins the attention of prison officials for his fast runs around the prison yard at Folsom Prison. Eventually, he is allowed to train for the Olympic Trials while in prison, but his past catches up with him in this made-for-TV film. Even though it didn't make it to the big screen, the movie earned critical acclaim.
Motivational Quote: I'm going to grab the lead and hang onto it. -Larry Murphy
Running Brave7 of 11
Another Olympic story, "Running Brave" is based on the life of Billy Mills, a South Dakotan and a member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe who won the gold medal in the 10,000 meters at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. Today, that race is considered one of the greatest upsets in sports history.
On the Edge8 of 11
Bruce Dern plays Wes Holman, a once-promising runner controversially banned from American competition two decades prior. The storyline follows his comeback attempt as a middle-aged runner trying to prove he can still race the Cielo Sea race, a grueling 7.2-mile race. He persuades his old coach to train him and doggedly works to make an appearance at the race. This movie is a spectacular look at comebacks and pushing away from your past.
Motivational Quote: You want me to be your coach, you do what I say. - Elmo Glidden
Spirit of the Marathon9 of 11
This documentary film follows six runners as they train and compete in the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Among the runners is American Deena Kastor, who won the bronze medal in the marathon at the 2004 Olympics. But the film also follows non-elite runners, and chronicles their stories through the ups and downs of getting to the starting line.
Motivational Quote: When you cross the finish line, no matter how slow or fast, it will change your life forever. -Dick Beardsley
Running on the Sun10 of 11
Another documentary, "Running on the Sun" tells the story of 13 runners training to compete in the 1999 Badwater Ultramarathon, a 135-mile trek through blistering heat and wind and one of the toughest races in the world.