3 Stars – Wholesome
Even after watching the biography of Terry Hitchcock’s run from Minneapolis to Atlanta in 75 days, it is difficult to really understand why. He explains in a very calm manner that it was to raise awareness for the plight of single parents since he had to raise his three children alone after his wife died. But in what way he was able to do so is unclear. It is clear that he was compelled to run 75 marathons in 75 days and that it took unbelievable courage and stamina to do so. It is also clear that although he became a media sensation in the towns he jogged through, he did not seem to do it for the fame or even recognition. He simply did it.
Although the run itself is the point of the film, the human interest behind it is his family. Meeting his wife in college and beginning an idyllic life with three children, we hear the pain now years later as Terry describes the events leading to her death. As we peruse a montage of pictures that depicts their life together, we see the painful shift as subsequent pictures chronicle his valiant attempt to be both mother and father to their three children.
But now the children are adults and Terry is in his fifties when he gets a compelling thought that he should run, somewhere. Never having been a runner his son nevertheless encourages him to “run to California.” But it is 1996 and the Summer Olympics are going to be held in Atlanta. So he decides to run there. Accompanied by his children and a few of their friends, and receiving professional support by friends who help him publicize his efforts, Terry leaves home with a motor home and crew. However less than half way through the journey, the task becomes too hard for his team and everyone but his oldest son abandons him. The two of them struggle with each other, the run and the elements until finally arriving at their destination seventy-five days later.
Dubbed a real-life “Forest Gump” who’s fictional run from coast to coast attracted people looking for a purpose in life, it is fascinating that Terry would choose to give the days of his life to this effort. Single parenting is a difficult task. To come alongside and invite a single parent into your life and walk with them through their struggles, or to raise money to help provide education or home assistance, or to provide childcare or religious instruction would have been more logical. Terry simply ran. But the truth is that it has been fifteen years since Terry made his run and we’re still talking about it. His desire to highlight the plight of single parents is still being discussed. Perhaps that is in itself a justification for his run.
Discussion for those who have seen this film:
1. We all know that single parenting is hard, but we often go on with our lives and do little to provide a helping hand. Is there anything more you or we could do?
2. The struggles Terry’s crew experienced when they realized this was not as glorious or easy as they thought, serves to amplify his own resilience in completing the run. Is there anything you have done which took a similar fortitude with little support? Is there something you feel compelled to do but have not yet accomplished?
3. The interest of the television stations along the way gave Terry a platform to express his purpose in helping single parents. If you could grab the attention of your local news show what would you want your community to know about and help?