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Showdown DVD Review: Thumbs Up for the Battle in Boulder DVD
by: Weldon Johnson
August 13, 2007

The DVD chronicles the 2007 USATF Cross Country Championships in Boulder, Colorado where for the first time in 10 years, a true national cross country champion was crowned.

Before I watched the DVD, I wasn't sure what to expect. Long distance running in high definition is obviously pretty cool, but unless the story is put together and told well, it is not enough to make a DVD (I take that back, I could watch Haile Gebrselassie running through the fields in the Endurance movie forever, hopefully that will come out on DVD soon). I had been to Boulder; I had seen the race; I knew the results; I'm even in the video giving some commentary; would it be able to entertain or inspire me?


The first thing I wanted to do after watching the DVD was compete again. I haven't finished a competitive race in almost exactly 4 years, yet the race made me think I want to give it one more chance. The video does a good job of capturing the essence of competitive running - young men (or women but the DVD only focuses on men) in the physical prime of their lives, dedicating themselves 100% both physically and perhaps more so mentally to one thing, running fast.

The video chronicles Abdi Abdirahman, Dathan Ritzenhein, Jorge Torres, Alan Culpepper, and Meb Keflezighi (who didn't run the race) in their preparation for the Boulder 2007 USATF XC champs. You see shots of them training, but mostly you get to learn a little more about them. I already knew more than most about these guys, but I definitely gained some insights into their lives.

First and foremost, the video captures the essence of why so many of us compete and why we enjoy it so much. Oftentimes in life we are afraid to really dedicate ourselves to something. But there is something to be said about dedicating yourself 100% to any task.

And in running, many of us, and especially the top stars of the sport, are willing to totally dedicate ourselves completely to a task, and then have success or failure measured in very concrete terms where just a few seconds separates the two. There is something uplifting and inspiring to see some of America's top athletes talk about their goals, dreams, and motivations and to expose themselves to "success" or "failure" for all to see.

David Monti the elite athlete coordinator for the ING NYC Marathon has some great quotes in the video, "They are just like regular people but they were given one extraordinary gift, so you've probably met people when you were a kid who were great in math in school but he didn't do his homework he probably didn't get as far as the guy who did his homework. It's the same thing in distance running."

By going behind the scenes with the athletes you see that while they may have enormous physical talents, succeeding at the top takes a tremendous mental will and determination as well.

Boulder 2007 Champ, Alan Culpepper says, "You have to be so focused (to be great), (laughs) it's borderline ADD... I know once running's done and I know its' done... I'm going to put a lot of effort into something else and do it well."

In the DVD, you see random parts of the athletes lives you likely knew nothing about. You see Alan Culpepper running with a ponytail in high school, Jorge Torres talking about throwing elbows in basketball games, and hear Abdi talking about running in jeans. An added benefit was the BBC race footage of Dathan Ritzenhein's XC run in Scotland and his half marathon debut. It's great to hear the professional British commentators be full of praise for Dathan.

In conclusion, the DVD is definitely worth viewing. It certainly inspired me.

I do have one criticism of the DVD related to a  production decision that results in the DVD inauthentically covering the actual Boulder race (even if it is months after the contest and we all know the results). Basically the DVD ignored Adam Goucher even though he finished 2nd in the race. When they show footage from the race, they only chronicle the athletes featured in the DVD (Culpepper, Ritz, Torres, and Abdi). I know that Goucher wasn't one of the athletes they featured, and I can live with them not choosing to try and interview him afterwards and work that in there. But to me at least in terms of the actual race, Goucher was a huge part of it, so to almost pretend he wasn't in it, seems a bit strange.

My only other criticism is a very minor one dealing with a split listed in the middle of the race coverage. It shows Jorge Torres ahead of Culpepper but that was not the case. But considering my website is full of typos maybe I shouldn't be saying anything.

All in all, I thought it was a very inspiring DVD. The national championships in Boulder were a truly amazing race and the DVD captures its essence beautifully. David Monti says in the video, "It was the greatest cross country meet I've ever been to". That is high praise from a guy who has been to a lot of World XC meets. And after the race I agreed with him (although in my opinion the madness at World Cross Country in Mombassa has since surpassed it, but I'm not sure Mombassa qualifies as a traditional XC meet, perhaps it should be called a death march).

Other vignettes from the DVD that I liked:

1) When you hear Culpepper's dad talk about how a coach told Alan he had the choice between being good at the sport or great and the choice was his.

2) Jorge Torres talking about how after his first race, he said, "this sport sucks", but then he was so competitive he vowed to do it again and beat the five guys who beat him.

3) Dathan Ritzenhein with this quote: "To achieve greatness in this sport you have to take risks you can't just go into anything half hearted to tell you the truth no one remembers second place, if it wasn't worth remembering."

*The Showdown DVD is $26.99 and can be purchased here  (Disclaimer, we get a small commission on every DVD sale generated from LetsRun.com but we wouldn't be linking to it or praising it if we didn't like the product)

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