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The 10 Best Running Documentaries to Watch in 2023

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Runners and non-runners alike all enjoy a good, inspiring movie. If you have contemplated something you should do to kickstart your 2023 running that is not directly related to your physical fitness, settling in for some documentaries is a great option.

Here is a list of the best running documentaries out there.

Our 10 Top Choices

In no particular order, here are the top 10 documentaries about running.

The Barkley Marathon is an ultramarathon race of 100 miles. The course has a 60-hour time limit over terribly challenging terrain. A race limited to only 40 runners each year, people vie for the right to toe the line.

A random fee of $1.60 is charged, those who are accepted are also given a random item to bring on race day, and a surprisingly large number of people beg for this privilege every year.

The race is done on a course of approximately 20 miles. A successful finisher would do the loop 5 times on this practically unsupported course with an accumulated vertical climb of about 54,000 feet; it is likely the most difficult race and course out there. This documentary is a “must-see.”

2. Spirit of the Marathon II

This documentary has a first and second version. The first one follows the journeys of some elite and “everyday Joe” marathon runners as they train for a marathon.

In the first video, they are training for a Chicago marathon and the second for Rome.

3. Breaking2

Nike decided to support Eliud Kipchoge and a team of elite runners in the quest to break 2:00 hours in the marathon.

This riveting documentary covers their journey to go where no man has gone before.

4. Skid Row Marathon

When a Los Angeles judge starts a running group on Skid Row, he begins training addicts and criminals to run marathons.

The result is not just a great running movie, it truly illustrates exactly how much running can change a person’s life.

5. Unbreakable: The Western States 100

Four amazing mountain-running endurance athletes all toe the line at the Western States 100. This is a 100-mile foot race that takes the participants through extreme heat, into snow-covered mountains, and across challenging terrain.

All four athletes enter the race undefeated. Only one can win and remain unbreakable.

6. Boston the Documentary

This one is a must-watch for all runners. It chronicles 120 years of the Boston marathon, including the very humble beginnings, the tragedy of 2013, and everything in between.

It is a feature-length film narrated by Matt Damon that you are sure to get pulled into.

7. Karl Meltzer: Made To Be Broken

Red Bull sponsored this Katl Meltzer’s journey as he attempts to cross the Appalachian Trail in record time.

The journey is 2,188 miles, and this documentary film gives you a front and center view of what he experiences.

8. Finding Traction: The Ultra Marathon Documentary

The story of ultrarunner Nikki Kimball’s quest to run the 273 miles Long Trail faster than anyone had ever done it before is the inspiring story behind Finding Traction.

You get to follow her training in the Rocky Mountains and the actual attempt at trail running the Green Mountains to break the record.

9. Desert Runners

A film that tracks 4 athletes trying to complete the 4 part desert series of an ultramarathon. Dennis Harvey from Variety magazine said, “despite the sometimes excruciating, arguably foolhardy nature of these races…there’s an upbeat tenor to “Desert Runners” that develops real rooting value for the protags. 

The frequently spectacular surroundings don’t hurt, of course, and the pic is nicely turned in all tech departments.”

10. Runner

The story of Guor Mading Maker is chronicled in this movie. He escaped his native Sudan, an area torn apart by civil war. Eventually, he ended up in the United States, where he found himself running for his track team in high school and then college.

He went on to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. This documentary tracks his journey from refugee to athlete.

Our Choice

Sure, you have just been given a bunch of amazing documentaries about running. Whether you are looking for the best ultra running documentaries or just something super inspiring, no matter what the distance, there is something for you.

My top pick is either The Barkley Marathon or Breaking2.

Both are engaging and inspiring.

Having said that, can you really make a bad choice if you are watching something running-related? We think not.

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