Sept. 11--The prep cross country season has barely begun, but Menlo-Atherton is one team that doesn't have to wait long to be inspired. The Bears have the privilege of hosting "Running for Jim," on Thursday at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center at 7:15 p.m.
The documentary film is about University High School-San Francisco cross country coach Jim Tracy, who contracted ALS more than three years ago, but has continued to coach from a wheelchair. The Red Devils won the Div. V state title last season, their fourth in a row. The title was Tracy's 10th, a record for the most cross country state crowns by any school.
The Bears, who took part in the Earlybird Invitational at Toro Park in Salinas on Saturday, plan to show up Thursday night in full force.
"This is a rare opportunity to have the film showed at our school, right in our backyard, all about cross country," Bears coach Eric Wilmurt said. "Maybe we'll learn something and get inspired for the season. This seems like a good cause. We have 75 kids on the team and about 80 percent are going to see the film."
"It's really cool that the film will be accessible to the students," said Taylor Fortnam, a senior on M-A's girls cross country team. "A lot of people are planning to go."
The film focuses on the 2010 state meet and Holland Reynolds, a then-junior runner for University who wills herself over the finish line. Reynolds' mother, Robin Hauser Reynolds, had a video camera in her hand
at the time. The video of Holland's courageous effort went viral on the Internet. Robin struck while the iron was hot.
"Everything was unsolicited," Robin said. "We wanted to use it to our advantage. It wasn't about my daughter. I redirected the attention of the legendary coach who had ALS."
The California Interscholastic Federation had hired Nike Hub to film the races. So, Robin got the rights from CIF and Nike to use their race footage in her film, of which she was one of the directors.
Released in January, the 78-minute documentary has won seven film festival awards around the globe. They include Best Feature Film at the Los Angeles Independent Film Festival, Best Film Character at International Festival of Sports Films Krasnogorsky in Moscow, Best Feature Film at the Tiger Paw International Sports Film Festival and the Audience Choice Award at the San Francisco Independent DocFest, to name four.
"Both my coaches have been raving about the film," said Zach Plante, a senior. "I saw the trailer. It looks really compelling."
The film is personal for senior runner Adam Scandlyn.
"My English teacher in sixth grade, her husband had contracted ALS," Scandlyn said. "We experienced that as she went through it. I heard it's a pretty inspirational movie."
Admission price is $10 for adults, $8 for students.
"The performing arts center is state-of-the-art," Wilmurt said. "They put a lot of money into it. It's a nice place to sit and watch something. It's just as nice as any movie theater in the area."
Net proceeds benefit the ALS Association and the Jim Tracy Special Needs Trust.
Email John Reid at firstname.lastname@example.org; follow him at twitter.com/dailynewsjohn.
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