NOVA and the Team Marathon Challenge Will Be Coming Soon On Video and DVD
This unique NOVA program tracks twelve diverse novice runners in training with Uta Pippig and Don Megerle to run the Boston Marathon. You can order the DVD/video and enjoy viewing their preparation, coaching, and amazing improvement over 10 months of training.
Posted Wednesday, 16 January, 2008
The award winning program NOVA the Marathon Challenge, a production of WGBH Boston, was broadcast on Tuesday, October 30, to the acclaim of experinced distance runners as well as beginning runners. Their fascinating look at marathon running and training through the efforts of twelve diverse volunteers who took the challenge, novices all, is remarkable. This was a “must see" program for anyone who has ever run long distance, considered running a marathon, or indeed anyone who can appreciate setting a goal, accepting a challenge, and working to fulfill a dream. If you missed the original braodcast, or if you saw it but want to see it again to relate to your own marathon or distance training, you are in luck. WGBH Boston, where the program was produced, will be making this award-winning program available on standard video format and on DVD. You can purchase it online at the Public Video Store.
Then you can decide if the Boston Marathon was the end--or the beginning--of the quest for this representative group of runners and seekers. All who saw the program--especially those new to running--saw somthing of themselves in the long months of training. Most have concluded that if they can do it, so can I.
This intriguing program follows the progress, and sometimes the setbacks, of these beginning runners, six women and six men, who developed into a true team in taking on the formidable challenge of the marathon. They pushed themselves and each other to prepare for the world’s most famous road race, the 26.2 miles of the BAA Boston Marathon.
Some in this diverse group could not run a mile when they began. They trained under the watchful eye of Don Megerle, coach at Tufts for 33 years, along with famous marathon champion and Olympian Uta Pippig; she was a constant source of inspiration and a guiding light for the team. She brought knowledge, energy, encouragement, wisdom, enthusiasm, and love for the sport to each person. Megerle provided planning, humor, guidance, consistency, and motivation. Their interactions with team members are captured in artful detail during this very special program.
The twelve would-be marathoners were mostly new to running. Several had serious medical issues, and some were trying to overcome personal or emotional setbacks. A few were simply in a bottomless funk brought on by aging and a sedentary lifestyle. They range in age from 21 to 59, and represent a broad spectrum of backgrounds and professions. All embraced the challenge wholeheartedly. You will enjoy getting to know them.
After screening and medical testing, they began their “training” on July 9, 2006; the goal was to complete the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2007. This program chronicles their slow but steady progress in both physical and mental conditioning. The program also shows the bonds that developed as the group prepared and progressed through 10 months and four seasons of preparation.
The final group of 12 came from very different age and ethnic groups, represented a wide variety of occupations, and had varying degrees of athletic experience—from never participating in a sport to a retired professional athlete. Some led quiet although quite busy lives and some had fast-paced high profile careers. All showed determination and dedication. Four have recorded diaries during their training to share thoughts with coaches, teammates, and producers (and viewers) and to help in their mental preparation.
Steve DeOssie is likely the best known, having played linebacker for the New England Patriots, Super Bowl Champion Giants, and Dallas Cowboys. Now a radio host, divorced with three grown kids, he was taking on a very different kind of athletic challenge.
As a football player, “I trained to take short runs and hit somebody, to operate at high intensity for short bursts,” he said. Running for nearly five hours was a very different thing entirely. He outlines in his diary interesting contrasts in coaches Landry, Belichick, and Parcells, compared to Pippig and Megerle.
Xenia Johnson is a child psychiatrist, a self described “aging, sedentary physician” who turned 40 during her training. She needed more activity and knew she needed to get off the couch. Teammate Vera Yanovsky was only 21 during her preparation, but had been seriously overweight and lost 90 pounds. This Russian American never thought of herself as an athlete.
Larry Haydu, a psychotherapist, suffered a heart attack 14 years ago, and was out to prove to himself that he was capable of the marathon. He walked and ran as part of his rehabilitation, but was certainly apprehensive about such an increase in physical exertion. Mellissa White was another with medical issues. A 35-year-old mother of two, she was battling type I diabetes, used an insulin pump, and sought to balance the program with her professional fundraising and homemaking responsibilities. She eventually had to drop the quest because of injuries (replaced by DeOssie), but remained close to the team.
Sama ElBannan, a hotel sales manager of 28, lost her mother in an accident caused by a drunk driver. She wanted to run to honor her mother, an Egyptian immigrant who earned her masters degree at age 65, only to lose her life. Sama was a sedentary smoker, the second youngest on the team, and probably the unlikeliest team member. She also candidly shares her thoughts through her diary. She enjoyed the support of other members and coaches, and especially looked forward to the Sunday long runs with the group. We will find out if she is one of those most changed by her marathon experience.
Mic Guaring is native of the Philippines, and a physical therapist. It is unusual, however, that he was one of few PT’s not to engage previously in any sport. After 11 years in New England, and at age 37, he decided he needed the marathon challenge. Ray Rassi, on the other hand, is a computer technician. Depressed about turning 50, he decided running might help. After running a 10K with his brother, he decided to apply for the marathon team to break out of the haze.
Jane Viener is the oldest member at 59, and a breast cancer survivor. Running seemed the antidote for her recovery, and a way to ward off a family history of heart disease. She took on a new career as a preschool teacher as she prepared for the Boston Marathon challenge. Jonathan Bush was 37 when he ran the marathon, having joined the team after a divorce and during a hectic business career as the CEO of a healthcare company. He and Mic are the two youngest men on the team.
Carol Brayboy was the victim of an assault, and wanted to use running as part of her healing process. A single mom with three children, she decided that she needed a different and healthy kind of challenge. She was 44 on marathon day. Daniel Williams is 38, an openly gay college counselor; he set out to prove that a man with HIV could be generally very fit and active.
Betsey Powers-Sinclair is a 41-year-old hospital administrator and single mom who became seriously overweight while battling medical issues, including an operation to remove a tumor. She also shares her diary. See how she made tremendous strides in her conditioning during her 10 months of training.
Implied in this selection of wonderfully diverse people is that anyone can train to run a marathon; anyone can become fit, whether the ultimate goal is a marathon, weight loss, improved outlook, or wholesale lifestyle changes for the better. Running, and the attitude that goes with it, can work wonders for anyone willing to put in the time and effort.
That is why all beginners, or friends and relatives of beginning runners, should jump at the chance to buy this video/DVD.
Revisit Using the Website and the DVD of the Program
Go to the Website and check the detailed results for each individual on the team. There are updates on the companion Website. And soon we will have the chance to purchase the video or DVD for use as an inspiration and training guide.
The Coaching Team
Uta Pippig was born in what was then East Germany 42 years ago. A gifted athlete, she gave up her medical career to pursue running. And she became a world-famous champion and darling of Boston Marathon fans. Eventually she settled in the Boston area, and is now an accomplished master runner and inspiration to many.
Best known for her three consecutive triumphs in Boston, Uta Pippig, who became a US citizen in July, 2004, also won the New York and Berlin Marathons, and numerous other high profile events. Pippig, who lives part of the year in Concord, Massachusetts, won the Boston Marathon from 1994 through 1996, setting the course record in 1994; it stood until 2002. She trains in Boulder, Colorado. Tremendously personable, she remains one of the most popular and highly recognized distance athletes in the world. The NOVA Marathon program will highlight her love and enthusiasm for the sport, and her ebullient effect on other runners—indeed all others.
Don Megerle spent 33 years coaching at Tufts University. Known far and wide as a supreme motivator, he was just the person to coach and cajole those preparing for Boston. Never harsh, always encouraging, he was the perfect choice to work with such a diverse group as they prepared. His coaching is legendary, and his humor is refreshing.
Miriam Nelson, PhD., Director of the John Hancock Center for Physical Activity and Nutrition at Tufts University, offers her advice and tips. You may ask questions through the Website, and answers will be posted following the program. She will offer “Ask the Expert” advice on long distance running and nutrition, or on exercise generally. Nelson is the author of the international best selling “Strong Women” series.
The Website also lists the VO2 max testing of each member before and after. They provide information on the power of positive thinking, and tips for beginners.
The coaches have posted their Marathon Challenge training calendar on the Website for would-be marathoners. It begins with a long run of only one to two miles--and only 15 minutes of running or walking four times per week. From this inauspicious beginners’ schedule they increased mileage in preparation for the full marathon 10 months later.
Commitment and Preparation for All
Team NOVA, the Marathon Challenge, proves that anyone can do it. Running can bring tremendous positive changes to your life. With commitment and a reasonable, incremental approach to training, the marathon can be conquered by ordinary folks. You will want to reinforce this with your own DVD of the program. Or give it as a gift to that someone who dreams of running long.
These 12 individuals chose to make a difference in their lives. They committed to doing so, reinforced and supported each other, and learned to take good advice. Long after the lithe Lidya Grigoryeva and Robert Cheruiyot finished as Boston Marathon Champions, these 12 runners were still determined, still working toward Boylston Street and the BAA Boston Marathon finish line. Enjoy sharing their fascinating marathon journey and put this video/DVD into your personal library.