Lesley, a gifted composer - Marty, a SWAT police sergeant - Mimi, a die-hard mother - Vanessa, a lymphoma survivor - Ron, a retired marketer -- they were too old, too out-of-shape, too wounded, or too busy--they weren’t supposed to be able to do what they did. But an impossibly brave boy called Keegan, diagnosed with leukemia, united this group in what was to be a grand gesture--unlikely heroes stepping up into running shoes, hoping to transform the life of one child and countless others facing a devastating disease.
WHY THEY RUN begins as the story of five Team in Training runners whose goal it was to complete the Chicago Marathon and raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It becomes the story of transformation: their own. Not even torn muscles or fractured bones stop them from suiting up to run. Putting their excuses aside, and one foot in front of the other, they take us on a run rarely felt in film – painfully personal, witty and wise, infinitely human. They show us, step by step, why they run.
A fresh, intriguing documentary set against inspired cityscapes, this story was four years in the making and is full of “magic” mistakes and coincidences, creating a raw and captivating experience. Its innovative music score is as unexpected as the seasons of Chicago. In the end, the reward is an immense, albeit sweaty, discovery: any of us can do it. We just have to know why we run.
This film was a distinctly collaborative effort filmed in multiple locations, which evolved organically, but was driven by Lesley Spencer’s personal journey of running in the Chicago Marathon with Team In Training. The film is an intimate portrait of five people who allowed us into their personal struggles and how they found a way to rise above them through long-distance running with a purpose: to help someone other than themselves. Such intimate and painful stories of loss and surviving the loss of loved ones to cancer called for a light-handed direction and a fluid shoot with as little intrusion as possible. The distinctive city skylines and breathtaking landscapes allow space for reflection and provide the backdrop to the physical and mental journey the characters take in this documentary film.
Olga Arango, Director