The 8 Best Documentaries About Marathons

Nov 6, 2023 | Best Of, Sports

If you are a marathon enthusiast or someone who simply enjoys a good story, then this article is for you! In this documentary, we explore the best documentaries about marathons that will make you want to lace up your shoes and start running. From inspiring stories of triumph to heart-wrenching tales of failure, these documentaries showcase the passion and commitment of marathoners around the world. Prepare to be inspired as we take you on a journey through some of the greatest stories in modern marathon history. Come along with us as we celebrate these incredible films that capture the spirit of running!



1. Run For Your Life

The film tells the incredible story of Fred Lebow, founder of the legendary New York City Marathon. Through archival footage and interviews with those closest to him, audiences are taken on an emotional journey through his life – from his childhood fleeing Romania during World War II, to his drive and determination in later years as he put NYC on the world stage when it comes to marathon running. We witness his highs and lows, passion for the sport he helped make popular, and bravery in the face of adversity – both real and imagined. Together with his wife and friends, we get a glimpse into what it takes to be an innovator, as well as a reminder that hard work, commitment and dedication will always pay off.


ONE MILE OUT is an inspiring story of Chadd’s journey to complete the Cocodona 250, a daunting 250-mile race through Northern Arizona. This documentary captures all of the highs and lows that come with such an intense experience. We owe a great deal of thanks to Barbell Apparel and Hoist for making this documentary possible, as well as Drake McNamara and Jacob Bowles of Macademic Media for bringing this masterpiece to life. Last but not least, we cannot forget all our supporters on Patreon who make it possible for us to continue our mission every day. A must-watch documentary that will have you in awe from start to finish!


3. The 2023 Barkley Marathons Documentary

The Barkley Marathons have become legendary amongst athletes and endurance runners. Every year, hundreds of brave souls attempt to conquer one of the most grueling races in the world: a 100 mile jaunt over wild terrain with twice the elevation of Mt. Everest from sea level. Few succeed, only 15 out of thousands of applicants in 38 years have done it. The 2019 race was one of the most anticipated yet, as it featured Joe McConaughy, attempting the impossible for his first time. The film documenting his journey also follows Aurélien Sanchez, John Kelly, Karel Sabbe, Damian Hall, Jared Campbell and Jasmin Paris. It’s a story not just about running and challenging oneself but about pushing physical and mental boundaries.


4. Gary Robbins and The Barkley Marathons

Where Dreams Become Reality is a documentary created by Ethan Newberry (The Ginger Runner) that follows Canadian ultrarunner, Gary Robbins, as he prepares for his two attempts at completing The Barkley Marathons – one of the most difficult and grueling endurance events in the world. Spanning more than 2 years, this captivating story captures Robbins’ journey to the impossible.The documentary follows Robbins’ preparation and training regime, while also delving into his inner thoughts and emotions as he struggles to mentally prepare for the challenge ahead. Learn about the rigorous demands of this daunting feat and see first-hand what it takes to make dreams possible.


5. Backyard Ultra Marathon Documentary

Lazarus Lake, the founder of the iconic Backyard Ultra Marathon, recently traveled to Riverhead in Auckland, New Zealand. While there, he shared his insights into what it takes to compete and thrive in this unique race. According to Lazarus,Backyard Ultra marathons are grueling events that test one’s mental fortitude and physical endurance. While the course is known for its twists and turns, participants must remain focused on their goals and be prepared to push beyond their comfort zones. The success of any participant depends on a combination of focus, dedication, and determination.


6. UltraMarathon Man

This is an inspirational film that follows celebrated endurance athlete and best-selling author Dean Karnazes on his daring mission to run 50 marathons in 50 states over the span of 50 days. He set out with a goal to raise awareness for youth obesity while motivating people from all ages and abilities to take “the next step”.


7. The Toughest Mountain Ultra Marathon Race in the World

Graham Cooper and James Barlow joined the 2022 Dragons Back Race, a prestigious marathon that traverses down the spine of Wales. Covering 380 kilometers from Conwy to Cardiff, competitors must bravely ascend over 17,000 meters of challenging elevation! This race is no easy feat: runners must traverse through some of the most rugged mountain ranges in all of Britain. But for Graham and James, the pride of victory is all worth it in the end.


8. Out There – A Journey to the Barkley Marathons

Out There – Experience the Barkley Marathons! This documentary follows an incredible journey of physical and mental strength. Athletes from all backgrounds come together to test their endurance on a course through treacherous terrain in Tennessee’s Frozen Head State Park. From sunrise to sunset, they face challenges like never before. The stories are inspiring, and offer viewers a glimpse into the world of ultra-distance running. Beyond the race itself, viewers will learn about the history of this event, and how its challenges have shaped runners for decades. With expert commentary from those who have completed the course, this powerful film reveals what it takes to run a marathon like no other.


Read On – Our Latest Top Documentaries Lists

David B