It's National Running Day! Motivate yo'self with these classic running films

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The San Francisco Marathon is a mere 11 days away, but today is National Running Day. So everyone gearing up for 26.2 is now trotting through shorter runs leading up to the big enchilada on June 16. What's a marathoner in mid-taper (or a couch 'tater needing motivation) to do? The sport of running, which tends to grab attention only during the Olympics or when there's a national tragedy or (natural disaster), has garnered a fair amount of cinematic interest over the years; long-distance runners, in particular, give great drama. Double-tie your laces and read on for flicks suitable for watching while you're foam-rolling and dreaming of medals.

The original Spirit of the Marathon (2007), a doc centered on the Chicago marathon, has fueled running dreams for years. Now there's a sequel, focusing on runners prepping for the race in Rome. Spirit of the Marathon II screens June 12 in theaters (purrrfect timing for SF Marathon runners); check out the website for more info.

Who doesn't admire Steve Prefontaine, the Oregon-bred golden god of running whose tragic early death amplified his mystique to rock-star status? Was a time when Hollywood cared enough to produce two competing biopics. Without Limits (1998) was the better one*; it was directed by Oscar-winning screenwriter Robert Towne, was actually filmed in Eugene, and starred Billy Crudup as the track legend. (*I might be biased since I was an extra in it, being a UO student at the time. Go Ducks!)

Um, duh. Oscar loved this 1981 classic, and the cheesy Vangelis score still resonates.

Another British classic, starring dreamy Tom Courtenay...

But included here mostly so I can also include this:

RUNNNNNNNN ON AND ONNNNNNNNNNNNNNN

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