I had seen the movie plugged on Twitter but did not know much about it until it appeared in my Netflix feed. So, after a coin toss (best of out 5) with Narcos (FFTFL won 3-2), it was decided. The premise is pretty simple. It follows a team of a dozen Americans from all over the country who between them have lost a staggering 1,200 pounds in weight and decide to run the Key West Ragnar Relay in Florida. The tag line is really 12 strangers, 1200 pounds lost, 2 days, 200 miles and a race that makes testing your limits a team sport. I do know people who run that far, but not after losing that much weight. I also know people who have lost that much weight, but only a few that run.
The movie follows the race, gives you a little (maybe too little) background on the team, as well as input from Editor-in-chief of Runners World magazine, David Willey, and a Psychotherapist who’s name escapes me. David captures the mood quite well, saying that running feels more accessible and open nowadays, for people who want to lose 5, 10, 20, 100 pounds. It is no longer the exclusive arena of skinny guys with beards. Although, I am sure we know a lot of skinny runners with beards. I know I do.
Rick, is Team Captain, and it is inspiring to hear him say that the day he ran for one mile without stopping his trainer asked him how he felt. He replied “I feel like I can do anything.”
After hearing from Katie, Lealah, Rick (who organised this event with Katie), within seconds I realised I loved Jen. Oh my God. The Jersey Girl was swearing her way through her run. Brilliant. Pumping the water bottle as if listening to the Beastie Boys. “I was looking forward to the stop lights, but whenever I got to them the little WALK man would appear.” She pants after her first leg (they were running three each, overnight). Bless. “I am glad I put on a full face of makeup, because you never know when you’ll be on camera.” When she starts crying on her overnight leg your heart is a little bit sore for her. She had just talked about trying, and then cramps up to a point of not being able to go on.
Linda “Grandma” is lovely too. If she reads that she will kill me. But her transformation is amazing. A good gait too. I could run with her.
Jen 2, from Maine via Boston, was clearly a good runner as it came to her. Bit noisy in the van, but that was the Boston (Paarrrk the caaaarrrr) accent. LOL. Her weight loss story was great, going back to the gym over and over again adding minutes to her treadmill until she ran that first mile. And that mile she valued more than her first marathon. But her success and weight loss combined with reinventing herself was the flip side of what her husband went through, gaining weight and resenting her. 😦
Some of the runners are at different stages in their running and weight loss journey, tears flow in their stories as they tell them. And the runner’s stories are incredible tales of weight loss. If you do not have weight issues, or have not fallen foul to the demon food you may not relate.
I was asked, as we watched it, “well, what’s the achievement here? It doesn’t feel like an endurance challenge as we run long distances all the time.” It is a team challenge. It is Spitfire Scramble and Endure24 meets The Biggest Loser. Me? I think what they did was fucking cool. And that brings me onto ADA, who actually was on the Biggest Loser.
I guess what let’s the movie down is that we never saw them losing their weight, and we didn’t see them training for this race, so you do not have a vested interest. I wanted to care more. But I think we needed to see more to care about these 12 strangers. It didn’t have enough of the training to be a running movie, it didn’t have enough of the weight loss to be a diet movie, which was a shame as I wanted it to be both. But what it is, is a movie about strangers coming together as a team, and then more to overcome their own personal challenges together.
“People think running is a solitary sport, but it has given me a family.” Amen to that.
This isn’t a movie about running, regardless of it being centered on a race. It is more of a weight loss story but still inspirational if you have anything to overcome. Teamwork, certainly helps you get through tough times and to overcome challenges. Would I watch this if I did not have weight issues in my past? Probably not. But then, I did watch the Spine Race DVD and there is absolutely no chance of me signing up for that bat shit crazy race.
There is something about signing up for a race, and committing to training for that race, that makes it all worthwhile. Maybe a team race is what I really need. Inspired by the 12 who went from being Too Fat to the Finish Line.
Right. Who’s up for a Ragnar Relay next year? But not Key West. It looked bloody hot. But maybe, as Jersey Jen said, “next year Ragnar Alaska?”