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We have compiled this list of movies with an underlying racing theme that every runner is sure to enjoy. This watch list is sure to keep us entertained, inspired, and educated on the in-depth subject of running.
Whilst some of the movies strictly cover running, there are others that also have running as part of the theme. These are movies that we as running enthusiasts will definitely enjoy and we recommend that you slot in time to enjoy these classics.
1. Ultra (2017)
This is a film that takes us through the everyday lives of athletes who are determined to push their personal limits by participating in an extreme racing competition, the Spartathlon. It is a journey into the heart and minds of athletes for who running is a way of life. Easy and fun to watch.
Director: Balazs Simonyi
2. Prefontaine (1997)
This is one of the movies that bring to life the legendary story of Steve Prefontaine, a charismatic athlete from the United States, and his journey as he aspires to be an Olympic medalist.
Jared Leto who stars as Prefontaine through his life as a child. With a short stature and one leg shorter than the other, he defies the odds to become the best in the track field. A riveting and inspirational film.
Director: Steve James
3. I Am Bolt (2016)
This movie tells the story and legacy of Usain bolt, a Jamaican runner and the world’s fastest man. Usain shares with us his life in training, the obstacles that he fought to overcome and how he spends his time with friends and family.
Bolt suffers from insomnia but he is determined that it will not affect his sportsmanship and performance. An electrifying sport documentary that we should all watch.
4. Zatopek (2021)
Zatopek is an award-winning film that features Vaclav Neuzil. An Olympian Ron Clarke suffers defeat in the 1968 Summer Olympics and starts to doubt whether a career in running is a smart choice.
He set out to meet his role model Emil Zatopek who will help him to regain confidence in his running potential and overcome the overwhelming defeat. An inspiring movie for every runner.
Director: David Ondricek
5. The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner (1962)
This movie portrays running as a great tool in understanding how the world operates. Written by Allan Sillitoe, this film tells the story of Colin Smith whose running skills caught the attention of his school governor (Sir Michael) while he is in juvenile prison. Colin is allowed the chance to participate in a cross country run against another school.
Director: Tony Richardson
6. The Jericho Mile (1979)
This movie, though not popular on the big screen, is one worth watching. It tells the story of a convicted murderer, Larry Murphy whose running process gave him the chance to participate in the Olympic trials and train while in prison.
Director: Michael Mann
7. Lauf um Dein Leben – Vom Junkie zum Ironman (2008)
Starring Max Riemelt, Jamin Schwiers and Uwe Ochsenknecht, this movie showcases the story of a heroin addict Ironman Andreas and how triathlon transformed his life and helped him beat addiction. An indeed beautiful biopic of Andreas Niedrig.
Director: Adnan Kose
8. Personal Best (1982)
A good sports drama featuring two female athletes who get attracted to each other while tirelessly training to qualify for the 1980 Olympic games. The government however shatters their dreams when it chooses to boycott the games due to political reasons. It is a story of grit, passion and taking risks.
Director: Robert Towne
9. On the Edge (1986)
Released in 1986, this film stars Bruce Dern as the main actor (Wes Holman). Wes faced numerous barriers and was denied entry as he sought to compete in a 7.5-mile race because of speaking out on illegalities he noticed in a race many years back.
Race organizers wanted to remove him from the track because he entered into the race without official registration but fellow athletes covered and protected him up to the crossing line.
Director: Rob Nilson
10. Chariots of Fire (1981)
An award-winning film, this movie is rich in history with dramatic twists and turns. It tells the story of Eric Lidell and Harold Abrahams, two sprinters who represented Britain in the 1924 Paris Olympics.
Interestingly however, the two were fired by a different purpose. While Abrahams ran to rebel against Jewish prejudice, Lidell ran for the glory of God.
Director: Hugh Hudson
11. Race (2016)
Owen sets out to prove that he is the fastest man in the world under the guidance of his coach Larry Snyder. Owen overcomes racisms and antisemitism and utilizes the chance to participate in the Nazi Germany Olympics that he is the world’s fastest man alive.
Director: Stephen Hopkins
12. Running Brave (1983)
This movie is based on a true story of an elite athlete who participated in both track and field events. Bill Mills achieved a historic win in the 1964 Tokyo Olympics.
The main character is an American Indian boy who has amazing running skills but his school coach discriminates against him with the presumption that Indians are quitters. Bill sets out to prove him wrong. He remains to be the only American to win an Olympic gold medal in long distance running.
Director: Donald Shebib
13. The Running man (1987)
This action-packed thriller features a game show where prisoners are given a chance to escape, but to do so they have to go against a group of brutal killers. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger as Ben Richards, who is desperate to save his daughter’s life and decides to enter the show. But when he does, all hell breaks loose.
Director: Paul Michael Glaser
14. Forrest Gump (1994)
Based on the Forrest Gump novel originally written by Winston Groom in 1986. The character Forest runs away for a period of over 38 months in order to escape the anguish of his mother’s death and the heart ache of Jenny’s partying. A truly feel-good film that we highly recommend.
Director: Robert Zemeckis
15. Fast Girls (2012)
The film stars Lenora Crichlow, Phil Davis and Jamie Howard and written by Noel Clark, Jay Basu and Roy Williams. The cast features Shania, a street-smart girl with potential to become a world class sprinter.
But Shania has all the odds stacked against her and when she is given the chance to join the National Women’s Relay Team, Shania has to overcome the rivalry with one of her team members Lisa from a rich background in order to thrive and work as a team.
Director: Regan Hall
16. Without Limits (1998)
Directed by Robert Towne, this movie is based on the life and times of one of the world’s greatest runners, Steve Prefontaine. Tom Cruise settled on the role of co-producer because he was too old to play the role of Prefontaine in the film. Billy Crudup starred as Prefontaine in this movie that details Prefontaine’s journey to becoming a world class athlete and his relationship with his coach Bill.
Director: Robert Towne
17. Spirit of the Marathon (2007)
This documentary showcases a group of runners, both amateurs and experienced when preparing for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. It captures the passion and determination of participating in the highly acclaimed competition. It is a film guaranteed to touch the heart of every runner and the essence of sportsmanship.
Director: Jon Dunham
18. Run for your Life (2008)
This documentary pays homage to the founder of New York City Marathon, Fred Lebow. Fred was a Jewish immigrant from Transylvania whose undying passion and determination for running made the now famous city marathon possible.
Though he died in 1994, Lebow’s legacy lives on and this documentary helps us runners to appreciate his contribution to the field.
Director: Judd Ehrlich
19. The Long Green Line (2008)
This film details the story of renowned coach Joe Newton and shows his journey as the cross-country coach for York duke in 2005 as they sought to win their 25th state title in 50 years.
This movie celebrates Newton for his immense contribution not only serving as a sports coach for 60 years but a life coach too.
Director: Matthew Arnold
20. Desert Runners (2013)
This film features a cohort of non-professional runners who are determined to run 250k in 4 different deserts within a year. A challenging journey, this film gives us a glimpse of what it takes to run in long- distance races. This movie helps us understand how runners set their mind to focus, push on and endure when competing in long-distance races.
Director: Jennifer Steinman Sternin
21. Gun Runners (2015)
It demonstrates their ambition and determination to overcome the difficult terrain of the countryside to battle with more experienced and well-trained athletes.
Director: Anjali Nayar
These movies are both interesting and inspiring. They offer the perfect anecdote to pass your free time when relaxing. We hope that this list will offer you films that you can enjoy and help you feel re-energized and motivated to live an active and healthy lifestyle through running.