It being a Friday and my being a runner in much need of some inspiration I headed down to the local theater to see McFarland, USA.
I was expecting a Disney style sports movie with all the ups and the downs, the based on a true story, but with a few white lies here and there to make a movie interesting and reach a wider audience etc and I got what I expected.
What I did not expect was the movie resonated with me as a mid packer in addition to being a runner. Those familiar with Disney sports movies know the outcome of the underdogs triumphing either tangibly or through personal growth is a forgone conclusion based on a combination of grit and unrealized natural ability.
But in McFarland it was the character Danny Diaz that hit home with me. He was large, kinda chubby, liked to eat the delicious food his mom made him and was originally put on the team (and told as much) to make a headcount and to secure the roster of his faster brothers on the team.
“It was Danny that had the most room to improve himself and therefore his team through the hard work of training and his personal determination.”
For me Danny Diaz became a point of focus in the movie. There were lots of other things going on in a great way in this movie from social and cultural divides, community pride, the realities and sacrifices of marriage even a sub plot where one of the runners clearly has an eye for the coaches daughter.
But for me it was Danny Diaz, that lured me in. To me he represented the everyman, the mid packer, the person with no natural athletic gifts, that would never “make the cut” normally, that knew he might look a little silly, and knew he would not know the glory of bring the first person to cross the finish in any practice or race.
But it was Danny that was the heart of the team. It was Danny that ran slower, therefore longer in the hot sun then his faster teammates and family. It was Danny that had the most room to improve himself and therefore his team through the hard work of training and his personal determination.
McFarland, USA is a lot of things, and they are predictable things. But it was still an inspiring movie in my opinion for all levels of runners and non runners alike, and I recommend you see it.
You might even like me find yourself on #TeamDanny, As he inspires you to push on in training regardless of the odds that are stacked against him, to show himself what is really possible when you push through the pain and stick with your goals.