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Documentaries every runner should watch

Add these titles to your must watch list


If you’re tired of wasting time scrolling through Netflix searching for the right movie or show to watch, we’ve got you covered. There are plenty of movies out there on running, but we’ve selected five of the best documentaries for you to watch. Before you get started on these films, though, be warned: sudden bursts of inspiration are highly likely while watching these flicks, so be ready to feel the need to go for a run after viewing.

Barkley Marathons Netflix
Photo: The Barkley Marathons.

The Barkley Marathons: The Race That Eats Its Young

This film was released in 2014, and it tells the story of the Barkley Marathons, race founder Laz Lake and the runners who dream of finishing the event. Producers followed the 2012 event, before which only 10 people had completed the Barkley Marathons, but that number is up to 15 today. This documentary brought this crazy race into the mainstream, and although viewership was likely primarily runners, it captivated non-running audiences as well. The film is available to watch on Amazon Prime Video.

RELATED: Q and A: Barkley Marathons documentary directors

If you like The Race That Eats Its Young and want more Barkley Marathons content, check out Where Dreams Go To Die, a documentary available on Youtube that follows Gary Robbins in two of his attempts at the event.

Boston: The Documentary

This 2017 documentary covers the history of the Boston Marathon, from its humble beginnings in 1897 right up to modern times. The film, which is narrated by Boston native Matt Damon, follows legends of the race (like the event’s first official female participant, Kathrine Switzer), 2014 winner Meb Keflezighi and four-time winner Bill Rodgers as well as other past champions and present-day athletes. In addition to the race’s history, the documentary looks to the future as organizers work past the tragic events of 2013 and towards the 118th running of the race in 2014. Boston is also available on Amazon Prime Video.

Paul Tierney: Running the Wainwrights

Earlier this year, the trail running and hiking gear company inov-8 released a documentary that followed fell runner Paul Tierney on his ultimately successful attempt at breaking the record for fastest running of the 214 Wainwright peaks in Britain’s Lake District. Tierney ran the over-500K route in six days and six hours. The full documentary is on Youtube.

RELATED: ‘Paul Tierney: Running The Wainwrights’ film released


This documentary was produced by National Geographic and Nike, and it followed the build-up to the first-ever sub-two-hour marathon attempt, Nike’s Breaking2 project, in Italy in 2017. The film dives into the lives of the three Breaking2 athletes (Eliud Kipchoge, Zersenay Tadese and Lelisa Desisa), the months of planning that went into the attempt and the run itself. Although it ended up being unsuccessful (Kipchoge ran 2:00:25), it was still thrilling to watch, and the documentary is just as exciting. This documentary is available to purchase digitally on Amazon.

Nike Breaking2
Eliud Kipchoge crosses the Breaking2 finish line. Photo: Nike.


Although this Oscar-winning documentary is not a running-specific film, it should still be at the top of every runner’s must-watch list. The Netflix film intended to focus on doping and how difficult (or easy) it is to get away with cheating in elite sports, but it quickly turned into a story about doping in Russia, which ultimately led to the downfall of a years-long program that involved countless Russian athletes and sports officials.