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wedding-rings-on-bible01-lgFor the first time, a student film from Liberty University appeared in theaters nationwide. The movie, “Extraordinary,” is based on the real life and real struggles of the ultra-marathon runner David Horton. The film centers on the toll Horton’s running took on both his body and his family before his final race in 1995.

Shortly before the 1995 Trans-America Footrace, David’s wife, Nancy, asked him what he would do if he were forced to pick between the race and her. According to Nancy, he never answered the question. “That told me all I needed to know at that point,” Nancy said.

For David, running was more than just a hobby. In 1979, he ran his first ultra-marathon, a classification awarded to any race longer than the traditional 26.219 miles marathon. He compared the experience to a drug addict getting their first fix. “It’s sort of like putting your finger on a hot stove. It burns,” David said. “But, you keep it there. If you want to do well, you keep it there. And, so, I learned to put my finger on the stove and keep it on the stove.”

Leland Klassen, who played David in “Extraordinary,” said that David is “driven. Even now, still so driven,” said Klassen. “It’s that elite athlete kind of mentality. That ‘I’ve got to be the best.’ It’s just a driven mentality that some folks just don’t have. [There’s] a select few that do, and David Horton is one of those guys.”

David’s running accomplishments certainly support Kassen’s comment. David’s ultra-marathon career lasted over 30 years. During that time, he ran more than 150 races and set the world speed records for the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. David also became one of only 14 runners to complete the Barkley Marathon in Tennessee and finished third in the 1995 Trans-American footrace. David has logged enough miles to circle the Earth more than four and a half times.

Nancy, however, said that the world is unaware of what those victories cost David and his family. “He’s not telling you that after those big, long events, like the Trans-Am, the Appalachian Trail, he has nightmares for weeks,” Nancy said. “It’s wear and tear on his body.” This wear and tear culminated in David wearing away the cartilage and meniscus in his right knee to the extent that he needed a full knee replacement.  It also damaged his marriage to the point that Nancy, who had been raised to stick with a marriage no matter what, considered walking away.

When Nancy read the script for “Extraordinary,” she told director Scotty Curlee not to shy away from the difficult chapters of her marriage. “At one point we were having so many problems, I was ready to walk out the door,” Nancy said. “But, God knew better and He changed my heart.” The couple has since celebrated their 45th anniversary.

“Extraordinary” will be available to own in January 2018 and will attempt to capture what makes the Horton’s marriage strong. According to Nancy, the secret is that “I guess we love each other.” David’s response? “There’s no guess.”

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