By Mike Smith
Last week I wrote a short article about the new movie, “Runner”, by Bill Gallagher about Guor Maker, two time Olympic marathoner from South Sudan. I mentioned that I remember watching Maker, as a NH high school athlete run cross country as a sophomore in 2002. I also stated that I didn’t know much about his life before his time at Concord and only bits and pieces about what came after. But thanks to Gallagher I now know a lot more about his amazing story.
I’m not going to recap the movie in full, as having just watched it I’m not sure I have the perspective yet to nail it. What I can and will tell you is, if you’ve grown up in the NH running community, it’s worth the price of admission ($12 on virtual cinema gets you 72 hours of it from the time you first start watching, that’s 17 cents per hour!) There are cameos of Concord coach Rusty Cofrin and his wife, along with appearances of his HS teammates. Corey Imhels, currently of Boise State (where Kristie Schoffield currently competes) is in there as his coach at then Iowa State. Not to mention there’s some great footage from Derryfield Park back in the day (with the old finish line!)
Guor’s story is an incredible story, regardless of whether you’re into running or not. What he survived, what he went through once he made his way to the US, his struggle through the Olympic process are all compelling without the running as a backdrop and without the NH ties. The story is very personal, maybe even too personal at times, as Maker is still dealing with the the reality of his past. Reuniting with his family, his brother and uncle, and then his mother and father, is both beautiful and agonizing to watch on video.
It’s heartening to know Maker is trying to make his third Olympic team for the now 2021 Olympics, this time in the 10,000 meters. While the odds are stacked against him, he’s certainly faced tougher challenges. Hats off to the Concord community for embracing Guor and his family.
Without revealing anymore secrets, slap down your 12 bucks and spend an hour and a half looking back into one of NH’s top distance runners ever, and forward into the development of a beautiful human existence.