In the wake of the London Marathon comes the aptly-timed release of award-winning US documentary ‘Skid Row Marathon’, chronicling one man’s mission to transform lives through the pursuit of running. In his day job, Superior Court Judge Craig Mitchell doles out life sentences to criminals guilty of dire crimes. In his spare time, he trains an unlikely crew of recovering addicts and ex-convicts to run marathons through the squalid streets of LA’s sprawling homeless district: Skid Row.
Following five of the Midnight Mission runners over a four-year period – Ben, Rebecca, David, Raphael and Mody – we discover how the discipline, camaraderie and mentorship provided by the club empower these individuals forgotten by society a fresh chance to redefine who they are. Director Mark Hayes expertly crafts a moving tale of recovery and redemption, capturing dawn-lit shots of feet hitting Tarmac, creating a studied, three-dimensional view of his troubled subjects, as well as bone-chilling scenes of deprivation in the First World shanty town. The pricey trips to run international marathons in Ghana and Italy may spark scepticism in some but the sentiment of the overall project is undoubtedly convincing and Hayes’s film overwhelmingly compelling. It’s a story of achievement against all odds, of community and kindness in the darkest places, and of the simple power of putting one foot in front of the other to reclaim a life. I challenge even the coldest of heart to not be touched by its message.