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Bruce Kidd film ‘Runner’ still cool after 59 years

This little-known short by Canada's National Film Board features the 19-year-old Kidd and poetry by W. H. Auden

If you’ve never seen the 1962 NFB film Runner, featuring the 19-year-old future Olympian Bruce Kidd, the Canadian running phenom with the odd arm movement who dominated the world of distance track running in the early 1960s, watch it now and be awed–by the film as a piece of art, by Kidd at 19, and by the knowledge of the success that lay ahead for him, not just as a runner but also as an academic, activist and influencer. (Kidd recently retired after a long career as professor at the University of Toronto and principal of its Scarborough campus.)

The film, directed by Don Owen, features poetry by W. H. Auden (recited by Canadian actor Don Francks) and some cool jazz beats. Everyone in and associated with the film has passed away, except for Kidd, who remains as passionate as ever about social issues in and outside of sport. (He has been very vocal on the subject of the IAAF’s testosterone rule, decrying it as unjust and unnecessary.)

Kidd receiving the Order of Canada from then-Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in 2004

Kidd has been called Canada’s greatest-ever long-distance track runner. Besides setting 15 Canadian records (and a few American records) and winning 18 national senior championships in Canada, the US and Britain, he remains the only Canadian ever to win gold in the Commonwealth Games 5,000m or 10,000m (he also won bronze). He retired shortly after the 1964 Olympics.

RELATED: Bruce Kidd: Agitator. Intellectual. Runner

Those familiar with Toronto’s East York neighbourhood will recognize the high school track where Owen and cinematographer John Spotton filmed Kidd training and racing.