Saturday’s Rock N Roll San Diego was one of the best I’ve been to a long time. I was really impressed with the array of vendors and brands there to represent, which included many of my favorites (hi, Westin!). But one of the booths offered something even more special than socks or protein bars – the promotional booth for Spirit of the Marathon II: Rome Marathon.
Both Blake and I had entered a lottery before the race to win tickets to see a sneak preview of Spirit of the Marathon II before it came out in the theaters on Wednesday June 12, and when we won, I was ecstatic. I had blocked off June 12 on my calendar for months because I couldn’t wait to see the movie, and now I was going to get to see a sneak preview? Amazing. We were told to go to the booth at the expo to pick up our tickets, and that we’d have a choice between the 3pm and 6pm screenings. We planned to hit the matinee, then go to an early dinner at 6pm and get to bed.
When we got to the booth, however, we met the amazingly sweet producer Gwendolen, whose excitement about the movie was palpable. Gwendolen chatted with Blake and I for a while about the movie and the differences between Spirit of the Marathon II and the original Spirit of the Marathon (which I didn’t love on first viewing, though it’s grown on me through numerous rewatches after I bought the DVD). When Gwendolen heard that it was Blake’s first marathon, not only was she incredibly supportive and excited, but she offered Blake a copy of the original Spirit of the Marathon DVD to watch and get her pepped up for the race! I had originally planned to bring my copy of the movie (but had forgotten it when I packed the week before), so I was so excited that we’d get to see both the original and the sequel.
But as far as Spirit of the Marathon II went, Gwendolen also filled us in on another secret: while a lot of runners were opting for the matinee, the evening show was actually going to be a red carpet affair, complete with the stars of the movie in attendance! Despite the fact that neither of us had packed anything other than jeans, we couldn’t pass up an opportunity like that. We gratefully accepted our tickets for the evening performance, and while Gwendolen assured us that it was totally fine (and even encouraged) to show up in running clothes, Blake and I hit the mall where I picked up a cute dress to wear for the occasion. (Coincidentally, the same dress that Ashley raved about on her blog a few weeks ago!)
We arrived early at the theater and got to talk to the two featured runners who were in attendance, Cliff and Julie, in addition to chatting a bit longer with Gwendolen. The lobby was beautifully decked out with huge life-sized photo placards of each of the featured runners, and it was really neat to see Cliff and Julie next to their press photos. Julie confided that she actually hadn’t seen the movie yet herself – what a cool experience for us to not only see the premiere but also the stars’ reactions to it!
We then headed into the theater and took our seats. I spotted a few familiar figures in the audience – there was a guy that I recognized as a Rock N Roll bigwig of some sort (having seen him in the VIP tent at Rock N Roll USA in DC), and then there was a blonde woman who I swore that I knew. Oh my gosh, I realized, it was Deena Kastor, Olympic bronze medalist and American record holder for the marathon!!! I have never really been much of a celebrity person (seriously couldn’t identify Justin Bieber in a lineup if my life depended on it), but apparently that doesn’t hold true for running stars. JP and Blake later teased me for how starstruck I got, though I maintain that I approached her very calmly to tell her how much I admired her and what an inspiration she’s been to so many marathoners. I didn’t ask for a photo because I didn’t want to embarrass her (no one else even seemed to recognize her or be approaching her at all), but five minutes later, many people started going up and posing for pics with her, and I regretted trying to play it cool 🙂 (Luckily, I got my chance to snap a shot with her after the movie; unluckily, my phone’s SD card chose that exact moment to stop working and so I don’t have the photo until I can hopefully get Verizon to do some digging and recover the data.)
But from the second the movie started, I forgot about everything else and was rapt. Within the first five minutes, I had already started tearing up – and I definitely cried at least a dozen more times throughout the movie. As with the original Spirit of the Marathon, the producers did such a phenomenal job capturing the emotions that go through a person when you’re about to run a marathon. The setting of the sequel, in Rome, was also amazing and awe-inspiring – I was there for just one night on vacation in February, but I loved it and promised myself I’d go back at some point. But as far as the movie, just the cinematography alone made me really want to go run the Rome Marathon too. Who else wants to come?
Gwendolen had told Blake and I beforehand that the sequel was done very differently than the original. The original Spirit of the Marathon movie had the audience follow the featured runners chronologically from training to race day, the sequel started out on race day to show each runner and then flashed back to tell their story and show their preparations. While there were times when I was so caught up in the race day moments that I almost wished we didn’t have to break away for back story (I was so excited to see how the runners would do on the big day!), overall, I think I really preferred this approach, since it got me caught up in the race day excitement and emotions right from moment one. I definitely cried more in this than in the original!
My favorite storyline in the movie was that of Julie, whom we had met earlier at the expo and before the premiere. I’ll let you hear about Julie’s incredible story yourself when you see the movie, but her race day demeanor reminded me so much of my own happy-go-lucky approach to marathons. In fact, Blake leaned over at one point in the movie to say “oh my gosh, Laura, she is so you in ten years!” I couldn’t deny it – we are definitely cut from the same cloth, and I thought it was just so awesome that I got to meet her in person and see her on the big screen.
In all, I just LOVED Spirit of the Marathon II, and would highly recommend it to anyone and everyone. It’s an incredibly inspiring, beautifully-done movie, and if you aren’t already a marathoner, you will definitely want to become one after seeing this!
What: Spirit of the Marathon II: Rome Marathon Premiere
Where: Select cinemas nationwide
When: Wednesday June 12
Cost: Depends on your cinema’s pricing, but make sure you buy tickets in advance – this is already selling out in some places!
Gwendolen offered to provide me with a very special giveaway for my readers: a signed DVD of the original Spirit of the Marathon! Since the contest is ending on the premiere date of Spirit of the Marathon II, you won’t receive it until after the premiere, but the movies aren’t sequential and can be seen in any order. I’d love for the winner to tell me how they thought the two movies compared to each other – personally, I found the cinematography in the sequel to be just stunning, and I found the stories slightly more compelling. But both will definitely have a special place in my movie collection!
I’m trying out Rafflecopter for this giveaway, so leave a comment telling me your favorite tidbit of inspiration for someone about to run a marathon, and then using the widget below to enter. You can also earn extra entries by following me on Twitter and Facebook, and by tweeting about the giveaway (up to once a day).
Contest will run through Tuesday June 15 at 11:59pm ET, at which time winners will be chosen by random drawing. Winners will be announced on this page (if you leave your email/Twitter handle, I’m also happy to notify you that way), and they will have one week to email me in order to claim their prize. Contest entry is open to all entrants regardless of residence.