The Enduring Power of Rocky

Back in September a fellow running enthusiast and writer composed an article that asked the question, how far did Rocky go during his training run in Rocky 2?  His research showed that Rocky’s training run through Philadelphia would have been 30.61 miles! Rocky wasn’t just a marathoner, he was an ultra marathoner! Of course, it was only a matter of time before some runner was going see this article as an opportunity to hold a 30.61 mile race that retraced the Italian Stallion’s steps. Just two and a half months later, the race became a reality. On Saturday, December 7th, 150 runners dressed in grey sweats and red headbands hit the streets of Philadelphia to run Rocky’s ultra marathon training run. The event was non-competitive, it wasn’t even timed. It was simply an excuse for a group of runners to test their endurance and to follow in the footsteps of one of their favorite movie heroes.

Rocky Training

What is it about Rocky that still inspires people nearly 40 years after the first film in the series was released? Just this morning, a few minutes of my run were spent listening to a couple of songs from the Rocky 4 soundtrack that is nearly 30 years old. I think Rocky’s story endures because he was an underdog (that and some stellar instrumentals and songs on the soundtracks). Rocky knew going into his first fight with Apollo that he likely could not win. He knew he was going to take the worst beating of his life. His only goal was to still be on his feet at the end of the fight. Even though Rocky lost the fight, he didn’t care because he had achieved his goal of not giving up and proving that he “wasn’t just another bum from the neighborhood.”

rockyMost runners, like Rocky going into his fight with Apollo, know that they likely are not going to win the race that they have entered. Whether it be a 5k, 10k, half marathon, or a marathon, they know that they are going to go through some pain, but no matter what they are going to cross the finish line. It doesn’t matter if they are the last person to finish as long as they finish. In fact, I am more inspired when I see final finisher cross the finish line at a race than I am when I see the winner finish. I love seeing the hard work and dedication pay off and the smile that comes across the runner’s face even though they had no chance of winning the race. Their reward, like Rocky’s, was simply to still be on their feet at the end of the race.

Do you have a favorite Rocky moment that inspires you? All comments are acceptable, unless you reference anything from Rocky 5. 🙂 If the Rocky ultra marathon that took place on December 7th becomes a yearly event, will it make it on your racing bucket list for the future?



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