The marathon is a unique beast. You’d think that after months of expending energy, money, resources, time, sweat and lactic acid, you’d run the risk of being faced with a familiar foe at the finish line: anticlimax. In other less literal walks of life, building yourself up towards a singular final goal can lead to a jarring sense of apathy or even disappointment, a sickening feeling of, “is this it?”
The marathon, though, very rarely runs the risk of being a non-event. If a short jog around the block can induce the runners’ high, then imagine what a marathon can do; a state of pure ecstasy washed down with a feeling of achieving exactly what you wanted to do. There’s no risk, either, of it feeling like a doddle; we’re talking about running 26.2 miles, more than the entire stretch of the Northern Line from Morden to Edgware (in a straight line, yes it’s not like that in reality, anoraks).
It’s why the fifth and final chapter of 26.2 Miles: The Runners’ Story, our film series with Swiss running brand On, feels so emotional. Directed by Jon E Price, it sees our two final runners – Hélène Selam Kleih and Corbin Shaw – line up to take on the London Marathon after nearly half a year of preparation, the last two standing after Novelist and Jordds were forced to pull out for health reasons.
155 days to go
We’ve followed them the entire way, from starting out at London fitness centre Barry’s to fitting intensive training into their everyday lives, heading to the running track for the first time and meeting mentors to discuss the best way to break through the wall. Along the journey, we’ve heard about their motivations and their insecurities, their mental wellbeing and their physical health, uncovering the invisible pathway that led them here. Now, Chapter Five starts at the starting line: but will it finish at the finishing line?
Tracking Hélène and Corbin throughout the race, we hear from the runners’ families and friends amid flashbacks of the duo’s own interviews, giving us a final reminder of why they made such a concrete commitment. “The only thing I can say that Corbin’s afraid of is failing. He’s also afraid of people not loving or liking him,” Corbin’s mum reveals. His dad, meanwhile, remembers his relentless ambition: “As a child, if Corbin enjoyed something he was always very driven … he’d do certain things like his skateboarding until he perfected it.” He’s equally confident about Corbin’s outcome: “When I see Corbin at the finish line,” he says, “the first thing I’ll say is, ‘well done, son.’”
For Hélène’s loved ones, it’s a reminder of her physical and mental strength. “I think she is showing herself that she deserves a really comfortable and loving and safe relationship with her body and with exercise,” one of her friends says. “I think she wants to do it for people like her who are struggling with their inner demons from day to day,” another puts it poignantly.
As for what happens? There are waves of tears, mid-race limps with strangers and seized-up legs; but you’ll have to watch above to find out more. A final stanza in an absolute epic, it shows the power of setting yourself an extreme challenge: and the heart it takes to finally reach the home straight.
DIRECTOR Jon E Price CREATIVE DIRECTORS Kieren Birtchnall EXEC PRODUCERS Rosanna Gouldman & Rose Darkins SENIOR PROJECT MANAGER Victoria De Zanche PRODUCER Charlie Scannell DOPs Joel Honeywell & Thom Neal & Ebba Hult STYLIST Hollie Williamson STORY EDITOR Ellen Evans EDITOR Kit Wells SOCIALS EDITOR Millie Gray MUSIC COMPOSITION Father GRADE ETC PRODUCTION COMPANY Riffraff