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Is it possible for virtually anyone interested in taking on the challenge to complete a marathon? This is the question that Tufts University researchers sought to answer in this engaging Nova film project.
Test subjects were not selected randomly but had to be willing to submit to an application process. Those chosen were from varying backgrounds with the common prerequisite of living a mostly sedentary lifestyle.
The trial takes place over a nine month period with subjects undergoing extensive medical testing before and at intervals throughout this period. They also recieved the aid of a Tufts track coach and 3-time Boston Marathon champion Uta Pippig who, to me, was the star of the video.
The medical aid, body-composition analysis, and max VO2 tests will make most runners envious. The scientific analysis of the changes that take place in the body during training, is fascinating and reason enough alone to want to view this film but it also contains enough human interest in portraying the struggles of the individual runners to keep it from being too dry and boring.
I would like to have been given more information about the training that subjects did on their own beyond the weekly supervised and supported runs detailed in the film but the running scenes are mostly effective. Both veteran and beginning runners will find humor and sympathetic identification in the struggles portrayed here.
We can argue the merits of enticing and encouraging what would be an unwise leap to go directly from non-runner to marathoner in less than a year but this case can be excused for what it is: a scientific experiment portrayed on film. It would have been interesting to have a follow up, say a year later, to see how many of the 12 subjects were still running.
Overall I think most runners would enjoy this film, originally aired as one hour television show, and be both informed and entertained. Given the paucity of film of any kind dedicated to our sport this is a rare gem.
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