Behind The Numbers

"Boston, An American Running Story"

By Harry Hall

The first feature-length film on the Boston Marathon is nearly complete.

"Boston, An American Running Story," is going through final edits.

The project took shape in 2006, when documentary filmmaker/director Jon Dunham, then working on, "The Spirit of the Marathon," which focused on six runners training for the 2005 Chicago Marathon. Dunham interviewed Tom Derderian, a 14-time Boston finisher and author of several books on the legendary race. Derderian is also coach of the Greater Boston Track Club.

Derderian asked why Dunham was making a documentary on Chicago and not Boston.

The wheels were in motion.

Boston Crew

Roni Wayne, sound crew (w/boom mike), Tom Derderian, Exec. Producer, Jon Dunham, Producer/Director

Dunham traveled to every continent except South America and Antarctica, interviewing past winners and significant Boston Marathon players, and sorted through 1,000 hours of marathon race footage.

Dunham's team elevated their game as well, combining resources and hiring the best available for both music and narration.

The musical score is provided by the Boston Symphony, which has only done that for three other movies, none of them documentaries.

Securing the symphony was the work of Jeff Beal, who has worked with Dunham on four projects, including, "Spirit of the Marathon."

"Jeff was one of the first people involved in this documentary," says Dunham, "he went above and beyond what composers do."

The group got Cambridge, MA native Matt Damon for the narration. Damon's dad ran Boston.

"It was years in the making," said Dunham, "but he was at the top of the list."

Landing Damon was largely due to the work of Frank Marshall, of the Kennedy/Marshall Company. (Kennedy is Kathleen Kennedy, who's been involved in, among other projects, Lucas films.)

Marshall was the producer of the Jason Bourne movie franchise, which of course starred Damon.

"Frank's passionate about the Boston Marathon," says Dunham, "he ran the race in 1980."

The film will make its debut April 15 at the Boch Center Wang Theatre in Boston.

"It holds 3,500 people," says Dunham, "it's beautiful."

After that, it goes national for one night only, April 19, and will be shown in 700 theaters throughout America, including a handful in North Texas.

For the complete list of theaters broadcasting, "Boston, An American Running Story," go here.

Harry Hall's bio

Harry Hall

Harry Hall grew up with the North Texas running community. While running for Irving MacArthur High School in the mid-'70s, he set several school and meet records, and ran in the Texas state cross-country championships. He continued running after college, completed a total of 18 marathons, including two Bostons. At the 1982 White Rock Marathon, he clocked his PR of 2:27.

Harry spent several years coaching collegiate track and cross-country and working as a personal trainer. In the late '80s he entered the professional writing world, covering athletic events from local races to the Olympic Trials and other national sporting events. His work appeared in several publications, most notably Runner-Triathlete News, Health and Fitness Sport, and the Dallas Morning News.

He continued moving from athletics to communications, and even wrote two books.

The first, released in 2011, is based on his experiences in radio, Toastmasters International, and teaching public speaking. It's titled, Help! Everyone is Staring at Me.

In late 2014, Harry completed a 12 year project when he released, The Pedestriennes, America's Forgotten Superstars, the first book ever written about the professional female endurance walkers who from 1876-1881, dazzled America with their on and off track exploits. It's won three national writing awards and included it on its list of, "Greatest Running Books." It's also been turned into a screenplay.

Both books are available at and

Harry lives in Grand Prairie with his wife Susie, their teen son Zane and Zane's best friend, Scamp (Pooch) Hall.