How do you run 26.2 miles if you have trouble making it around the block? With good coaching, discipline, and lots of group support, as NOVA shows when it follows 13 generally sedentary people through a training regimen designed to prepare them for an ultimate test of stamina and endurance. Created in cooperation with the Boston Athletic Association®, which granted NOVA unprecedented access to the 111th Boston Marathon®, and Tufts University, “Marathon Challenge” takes viewers on a unique adventure inside the human body, tracking the physiological changes that exercise can bring about.
Former Olympian and three-time Boston Marathon winner Uta Pippig offers advice and inspiration to NOVA’s runners throughout their training. And veteran Tufts University coach Donald Megerle guides them week-by-week through an onslaught of physical and psychological challenges. NOVA’s runners range in age from 22 to 60, and they come to the endeavor with a wide range of medical histories and backgrounds. They share one thing in common: none has ever run a marathon before.
Team NOVA includes Betsey, a hospital administrator who became substantially overweight while recovering from surgery; Jonathan, a hard-charging CEO and father of five whose marriage is breaking apart; Sama, a reformed smoker mourning the recent death of her mother to a hit-and-run driver; Larry, a social worker and 14-year survivor of a serious heart attack; Xenia, a woman turning 40 and struggling with being an “aging sedentary physician”; and Steve, a Harley-riding former NFL linebacker who sees the marathon as a novel challenge for someone used to running only a few yards before tackling an opponent.