The Best Movies About Running!

I hope you a rockin’ and a rollin’ today!

I definitely am.

I am going on vacation on Thursday to Santa Barbara.

I am so excited!

I am meeting two of my friends from college for our yearly “Girls Weekend”.

It’s going to be awesome!

Anyway, today, I am continuing with part three of our “Best of” series, focusing on the best Running MOVIES!

Let’s get to it!


Run For Your Life (2008)

Fred Lebow gave his heart and soul to the New York City Marathon. He helped that race grow from 55 finishers in its inaugural year in 1970 to one of the largest races in the world by the time he succumbed to brain cancer in 1994. Filmmaker Judd Ehrlich brings Lebow’s remarkable story to life—from immigrant to avid marathon runner to entrepreneurial president of the New York City Road Runners—in this touching documentary. Few individuals have done as much for running as Lebow, and, as this film suggests, his legacy will be felt for a long time.


Prefontaine (1997)

The first of two biographical movies made in the late 1990s about American track legend Steve Prefontaine (played by Jared Leto), “Prefontaine” chronicles Pre’s short running career up until his death at the age of 24. The story is told in a quasi-documentary theme from the point of view of three-time U.S. Olympian Bill Dellinger (Ed O’Neill), who was an assistant coach while Pre was at the University of Oregon, and Nancy Alleman, who was Pre’s girlfriend when he died. The film has even greater meaning as it also explores the amateur status of American elite runners in the 1970s compared to top international athletes, who were provided everything they needed to train and compete at an elite level. It typically gets rated below “Without Limits,” which came out in 1998 and included a higher-profile cast, but it is still entertaining and well-done (Leto plays a very convincing Pre and R. Lee Ermey is quite good as Bill Bowerman) for a major motion picture on running.



Desert Runners (2013)

2013 documentary film directed by Jennifer Steinman that follows a group of non-professional runners that attempt to complete 4 Deserts, a series of ultramarathon races often considered the most difficult in the world. Their journeys take them through some of the world’s most beautiful places while pushing the limits of their minds and bodies. It provides a look into the mindset of endurance athletes, and the ways in which humans deal with both heartbreak and achievement.

Spirit of the Marathon (2007)

Whether you’re running a marathon for the first time or have run dozens, this is the movie to watch for training motivation. This 2007 documentary (directed by Jon Dunham) explores the significance of the 26.2-distance race as it follows six marathoners training for and competing in the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Elite runners Deena Kastor and Daniel Njenga are featured in the film as well as local Chicagoans who round out the six. This movie should be a part of every runner’s marathon training plan. Also noteworthy, the 2013 sequel, “Spirit of the Marathon II,” reprises the concept, following seven runners from around the world as they prepare for the Rome Marathon. This film definitely captures the resolve of age-group runners everywhere.


Without Limits (1998)

Released a year after “Prefontaine” in 1998, “Without Limits” is also a biographical portrayal of Steve Prefontaine’s life. While both Pre biopics are entertaining, this one is the better and more authentic of the two. It was co-written and co-produced by Robert Towne (who also wrote and produced “Personal Best”) and two-time Olympic marathoner and former University of Oregon runner Kenny Moore. The film (produced by Tom Cruise) focuses more on the relationship between Pre (played by Billy Crudup) and his coach Bill Bowerman (played by Donald Sutherland, who received a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actor for the role). There’s a little bit more hyperbole in this film than “Prefontaine,” but it’s a more technically accurate film and also serves up some interesting vignettes about the early days of Nike.


Forrest Gump (1994)

Even though it’s not entirely about the sport, this Oscar-winner for Best Picture deals extensively with the subject as a slow but capable man often uses his legs to attain freedom and enlightenment. He also inadvertently causes some of the most famous developments in Twentieth Century American history along the way. Tom Hanks stars in this, one of the very best movies about running.

Chariots of Fire (1981)

A running movie classic, the 1981 British historical drama tells the fact-based story of two athletes in the 1924 Olympics, Eric Liddell (Ian Charleson), a devout Scottish Christian who runs for the glory of God, and Harold Abrahams (Ben Cross), a Jewish Englishman who runs to overcome a prevailing prejudice of Jews. Winner of four Academy Awards, this powerful film will inspire any runner with its interwoven themes of devotion, commitment, integrity and sacrifice. It’s also, of course, well-known for its Academy Award-winning original score by internationally acclaimed composer Vangelis, which has been used in countless slow-motion running scenes (and parodies) since. While there are many great running scenes in the film (including the beach-running scene tied to the title song), the famous race around the college courtyard ranks as one of the best of the film.


 Did I mention any of your favorites?


I absolutely love all of these movies.


Did I forget any? Comment below and share your opinions!


Have a great day!




16 thoughts on “The Best Movies About Running!

  1. James @ HalfMarathonJames says:

    I bought Desert Runners from their website, it’s a really interesting film. Although not sure I could do one of those races, never mind four!

    “Town Of Runners” is also a film you should check out. It’s in subtitles, but very interesting. It’s on the UK Netflix..


  2. Paul Stroessner says:

    I love Desert Runners. I just watched it on Netflix. I have Run For Your Life on my Amazon watch list. McFarland, USA is another movie I really want to watch. I saw Chariots of Fire when it first came out. I was about 11 or 12 years old, so I didn’t appreciate it. It was a little boring for me. I would like to check it out again.


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