Terry Hitchcock: Minnesota’s own Forrest Gump

Running a marathon every day for 75 days, his cinematic story “My Run,” shows at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival.

To prove he can do anything, Hitchcock tested his body to its limits.

To prove he can do anything, Hitchcock tested his body to its limits. PHOTO COURTESY INDIEWOOD PICTURES

by Tony Libera

âÄúMy RunâÄù DIRECTED BY: Tim VandeSteeg STARRING: Terry Hitchcock RATED: Not Rated SHOWING AT: St. Anthony Main Theatres, 115 Main Street SE, Friday, Apr. 16 RECEPTION: Zahtar Minneapolis, 615 2nd Ave. S. The thought of running a marathon is a daunting task for most Americans, improbable at best. The thought of running a marathon a day for 75 straight days doesnâÄôt even register on the index of human possibility. But the apparent unfeasibility of the act didnâÄôt deter St. Paul widower and father Terry Hitchcock, who in 1996 set out to do just that. Now, almost 14 years later, his unbelievable story, âÄúMy Run,âÄù comes to the 28th Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Festival. Just to be clear, that number, 75, is not a typo. Following the death of his wife Sue, Hitchcock faced the difficulties of raising a family alone and felt he needed to raise awareness about the struggles of single parents across America and the effects on their children. He looked to his hero, Terry Fox, for inspiration. Terry Fox was a 21-year-old cancer patient who attempted to run across Canada with one leg and a prosthetic. He was forced to stop halfway through as the cancer spread to his lungs. Fox died shortly thereafter, but since his run, more than $500 million has been raised in his name for cancer research. The 56-year-old Hitchcock, having never run a single marathon in his life and possessing the facial hair and paunch of a tennis-shoed Santa Claus, decided heâÄôd run the equivalent of 75 marathons in 75 days, making his way from St. Paul to Atlanta for the opening ceremonies of the âÄô96 summer Olympics. âÄúIâÄôm kind of a dreamer, and I was raised by my grandparents who told me literally everyday there would be nothing in life I couldnâÄôt accomplish,âÄù Hitchcock said. âÄúIâÄôve always thought of myself as somebody that could probably do whatever everyone said you couldnâÄôt do. I just had to figure out how.âÄù Hitchcock sought out the advice of trainers, doctors and other marathoners, all of whom told him the run could not be done. Hitchcock admits âÄî as we can all imagine âÄî that the pain was excruciating, and that he thought about quitting every day. âÄúI got all these hugs from people and I just realized I was there for a purpose,âÄù Hitchcock said. âÄúI realized that everybody has a marathon that they run each day in their lives, and I was out there showing that if I can run a daily marathon, that you can also do what you want to do with that particular day.âÄù Against all imaginable odds, Hitchcock made it to Atlanta, two of his ankles and a patella fractured. One would think such a feat would have resulted in an immediate film deal, but Hitchcock was reluctant to make a movie with the Hollywood cadre that approached him. He instead waited for other options to arise, ultimately working with an independent director and Minnesota native named Tim VandeSteeg, who was drawn to HitchcockâÄôs run when contemplating his next film. âÄúI wanted something that had that âÄòRockyâÄô essence to it,âÄù VandeSteeg said. âÄúI like those stories where people get beat down and beat down, but they find hope and a reason to fight back. ThatâÄôs why when I heard about TerryâÄôs story, I had to meet him.âÄù Hitchcock felt VandeSteeg and his producing partners, Mark Castaldo and Christine Redlin , were the right fit for the job. Not only did they lack the greed that Hitchcock had come to associate with Hollywood, but they also had personal investments in the story. VandeSteeg was also the product of a single-parent household, and Castaldo was the son of a cancer victim. âÄúA lot of times we donâÄôt appreciate our family, and a lot of times when something tragic happens to you, you realize that there are a lot of things you should be appreciative of,âÄù said VandeSteeg. âÄúIâÄôve heard quite a few times that someone will see our film and will be really inspired and call someone up to tell them how much they mean to them. âÄúIâÄôve never had a project like that before.âÄù For VandeSteeg, the film is âÄîwithout sounding overly sentimental âÄî a story of love; for HitchcockâÄôs wife and his kids and for the millions of families fighting the same battle. He wants them to feel empowered by TerryâÄôs story and by the film. âÄúIâÄôve had people come up to me and say, âÄòI never thought I could do certain things in my life, but after seeing what youâÄôve done and how you did it, I can do more things in my life,âÄôâÄù said Hitchcock. âÄúEverybody is looking for a reason to continue, a reason to believe in themselves, and I just use [my run] as an example that, hey, if I can do this crazy thing, you can achieve your dream. âÄúNothing is impossible, and I think when people see the movie, theyâÄôll have that same feeling.âÄù