The unremitting road stretches on endlessly into the scorched and blurred horizon. A sweltering heat pulsates all around as tattered shoes, seasoned by hundreds of miles, pound into the dirt one blistering stride after another. You feel each excruciating muscle taxed of all energy and effort. Every breath screams desperate for another ounce of oxygen. Every continued heart beat is a miracle as the rhythm in your chest echoes with the thuds of your feet hitting the ground. And then, just as your about to give in to despair, you hear the words whispering into your thirsty soul: “But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31).
Running the Good Race
Following an open-heart surgery and irreparable damage to the knees would have most people hang up their running shoes. Dr. David Horton is not most people. Instead, Horton decided to set off on a nearly 3,000-mile trek across America in a race from California to New York.
The upcoming film “Extraordinary” tells the inspiring true story of the Horton family as they seek to run the race of life well amid having to make difficult sacrifices. For years, David’s family continuously paid a price for his passion for competitive running. Now he must wrestle with the choice to be separated from his family again for two months as he feels the call of God to race one last time in hopes of inspiring others.
At first, this film may seem like just another motivational sports movie where hard work helps our hero to win in the end. But the movie is not really about Horton’s journey across America. It is about his wife Nancy and his journey in marriage during a strenuous season. Just like finishing the Trans-America race, David and Nancy must run to finish their marriage race well.
Audiences will see the themes of sacrifice and commitment play out as David and Nancy struggle to understand the fine line between where pursuing one’s passion begins and treasuring your loved ones ends.
“‘Extraordinary’ will encourage couples to go the distance in their marriages and is a wonderful opportunity to start a dialogue about honoring your family, persevering, and finishing well,” said Liberty University President Jerry Falwell. “Daily, we challenge our students and faculty to engage the world through Christian media and Extraordinary does that in a big way. This movie truly is a labor of love for Liberty University’s film school” (extraordinarymovie.com/endorsements).
Overall, I recommend checking this film out. Aside from some of the minor subplots not being as strongly executed, “Extraordinary” is a well-made film. What is most extraordinary is that the full-length feature film was crafted, not by highly-paid professionals in the industry, but by a group of university students. The movie features a good soundtrack, respectable acting, and some gorgeous location and establishing shots. Viewers can really get a sense that they are traveling alongside Horton as he runs past numerous iconic national landmarks such as the Hoover Dam and Mount Rushmore.
Also, I really liked the introductory and closing shots, as the camera first pans down from space and gradually zooms in to where our lead character is running, and then at end, zooms back out to space again. This type of shot has been done before, but here, it intentionally evokes the idea that God is playing an active role in His creation as He chooses to focus in on one man and his family—reminiscent of Abraham and his family’s journey.
“Extraordinary” is a story about pushing past limits and finishing what one starts. It is a story about perseverance and commitment. It is a story about love and marriage. And it is truly an extraordinary story that will inspire those who see it.
An ultra-marathon is any race that exceeds the 26.2-mile marathon standard. Dr. David Horton is what you may call an extreme ultra-marathon runner. Since 1977, Horton has clocked in well over 100,000 miles, running in over 150 ultra-marathons, and at the time, setting records for running both the Appalachian Trail (1991) and the Pacific Crest Trail (2005).
For over three decades now, Horton has been a professor of health sciences at Liberty University. Originally, Horton was inspired by one of his professors to begin running. “The teacher was a marathon runner,” Horton said, “and he made fun of us students. He said, ‘How can you promote others to get into running and exercise if you don’t? A lot of you are out of shape and overweight.’ I thought, ‘He’s got a point there.’ Basically, I got into running to be an example for others” (liberty.edu/champion/2012/04/david-horton-inspires-student-runners/).
Dr. Horton was also featured in the 2006 documentary “The Runner: Extreme UltraRunner David Horton,” and he is author of the book A Quest for Adventure: David Horton’s Conquest of the Appalachian Trail and the Trans-America Footrace (1997).
About the Event
“Extraordinary” will premiere in select theaters across the U.S. as a one-night Fathom Event on Thursday, September 7. The film was created and produced by students from the department of Cinematic Arts at Liberty University. The movie was directed by Scotty Curlee and features Leland Klassen (Alter Egos), Shari Rigby (October Baby), Karen Abercrombie (War Room), and Kirk Cameron (Fireproof).
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us” (Hebrews 12:1, NLT).
Finley is a doctoral student researching Organizational Leadership. He can be reached at: [email protected]