Friday, July 30, 2010

Saint Ralph - a pleasant surprise!

The other night Jenny and I were having a quiet night at her place. It was after dinner and getting late, but neither of us were ready for bed (and no this is not a dirty story for those of you with dirty minds!). So we settled into the couch with a bowl of popcorn and started browsing the instant queue on Netflix. Some time ago we searched any and all movies that have anything to do with the subject of running and tossed them all into the queue. We've watched some great and not-so-great documentaries, comedies and dramas all dealing with running.

There was this movie that I've personally been skipping over again and again called Saint Ralph. For the record, I'm not Catholic, but Jenny did grow up going to a Catholic church. The picture and summary of Saint Ralph did not excite me. Basically, it's about a 14-year-old in the 1950s that wants to win the Boston Marathon to create a miracle in the hopes it cure his ill mother. Come on! Really? I'm not buying it!

But this night we're both tired, but not yet sleepy and figure we'll watch an hour or so and then go to bed at a respectable time. So I click "play." The next thing I know the credits are rolling and it's after midnight on a week night. Both Jenny and I were glued to the story and couldn't turn it off. We had to finish it. If you're a runner you can't help but like this movie.

(Here's my crazy summary): Ralph (the main character) is a 9th grader at a Catholic school somewhere in Canada. He's the classical rogue kid in the 1950s always getting into trouble, mostly because he's very mature for his age and with good reason; his father is passed away and his mother is in a hospital with an undisclosed illness. He's really living at home alone, but has everyone believing he is living with his grandparents, whom are both dead. He's even pawning every item in the house for money. It's not long before a power-tripping Catholic priest (the head-priest-in-charge-guy at the school) gets on Ralph's case and figures out the dilemma. Ralph and the HPIC guy don't see eye-to-eye on anything. One of the younger priests at the school is teaching a religion class and when they come to the subject of Saint-hood Ralph discovers that anyone can become a saint by meeting several conditions. He then gets it in his head that if he can pray, believe and do the impossible (a miracle) that it will some how awaken his ill mother from a coma. He sets out to win the Boston Marathon in 1954. It's not long before the younger priest starts coaching Ralph despite the HPIC guy's orders against it.

You'll have to watch the movie to find out if Ralph succeeds, but if you're a runner you will be caught up in this drama for sure. It's got hints of humor that only runners can relate and bits of drama for everyone. Historically, it's fiction of course. Veikko Karronen, of Finland, really won the 1954 Boston Marathon with a time of 2:20:39 and world record holder at the time, Jim Peters finished second. I searched Google and tried to find out if any kids under 18 have ever finished the full race, but my results were inconclusive. Today, the qualifying times are for 18-year-olds and up.

But if you have a little "Faith" and "Believe" then you'll be hooked on Saint Ralph!


  1. This sounds cute! Although I always steer away from movies I think will make me cry and I have a strong inkling that this will!

  2. This is a very inspiring story to read, thanks for sharing more good thoughts. Nice blog too.