Screened as part of NZIFF 2016

Free to Run 2016

Directed by Pierre Morath

Rich with clips and lively interviews, this doco traces the running movement over the past 50 years – the struggle for the right to run, especially for women, then the explosion of grassroots road races and marathons.

Belgium / France / Switzerland In English and French with English subtitles
100 minutes DCP



Jean-Marc Fröhle
Fabrice Estève
Marie Besson


Thomas Queille


Nicolas Samarine


Kevin Queille


Bobbi Gibb
Kathrine Switzer
Noël Tamini
Fred Lebow
Steve Prefontaine
Franck Shorter


This illuminating, clip-laden account of the history of running over the last 50 years begins by detailing the long fight against antiquated athletic authorities to open up participation in competitive events, and to allow women to compete at all. After a single finish-line collapse at the 1928 Olympics, the sport had been deemed unsafe for women, who were banned until 1960 from events over 800 metres. In 1976, Kathrine Switzer was physically assaulted by officials as she challenged the gender barrier by competing gender-incognito in the Boston Marathon.

Inspirational figures, like Bobbi Gibb, Fred Lebow and the charismatic Steve Prefontaine, also defied the establishment’s closely guarded rules to professionalise the sport. Swiss documentarian Pierre Morath provides a telling exemplar for the sport’s popularisation in his fascinating account of the chequered fortunes of the New York City Marathon, suggesting that commercial pressure may be turning long-distance running into an exclusive pursuit once again.

Switzer and her husband, one-time NZ representative Roger Robinson, head up a lustrous line-up of commentators and interviewees.

Listen In: Kathrine Switzer and Roger Robinson spoke with Kathryn Ryan on RNZ Nine to Noon