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Filmmaking in the Fast Lane

Former college runner Alexi Pappas stars in and co-creates movie exploring ‘Tracktown’

During filming, Alexi Pappas (center) and other runners re-create starting line intensity on location at historic Hayward Field in Eugene, Oregon. PHOTOS BY DREW ANDERSON

To be clear, Plumb Marigold is not Alexi Pappas. Plumb Marigold is a fictional character with her own personality, her own love story and her own athletics experience, all unique from Pappas, the runner and filmmaker who plays Marigold. Yet similarities between the two can’t be ignored: Both are college graduates submersed in the exclusive world of professional running – a world of long runs, Olympic competition, pain and commitment.

Through the lens of Marigold, Pappas and filmmaking partner Jeremy Teicher will share this world in the film “Tracktown.”

It is the second film for Pappas and Teicher, who both attended Dartmouth College. Pappas earned her undergraduate degree in creative writing just before competing in the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials in Eugene, Oregon. Later, she moved to Eugene, known among runners as “Tracktown, USA,” to compete as a fifth-year senior for the Ducks while earning her master’s degree. Pappas now runs professionally for Oregon Track Club Elite.

“A lot of people can tell the story of growing up in New York,” she said. “But few can tell the story of training for the Olympics in Tracktown.”

The pair describes “Tracktown” as a “wrinkle in time” centered on one day of the Olympic Trials. Marigold must sit the day before the finals due to an injury, and her preparation is impacted when she falls in love with a boy from the less sports-centric side of town. The crew shot the film last summer with a cast of well-known names: Rachel Dratch, a “Saturday Night Live” and Dartmouth alumna; Andy Buckley, a former actor on the TV show “The Office”; and a pack of elite runners including Olympians Nick Symmonds and Andrew Wheating. After the film was accepted to the Sundance Institute Creative Producing Fellowship, Teicher and Pappas spent the fall editing with advisers. They plan to submit the movie for consideration in 2016 film festivals.

While running remains her top priority, Pappas hopes to influence others beyond the track. “It’s important to me to run fast,” she said. “But I also want to make an impact in the running world as someone who has more than just times you can look at. Being that sort of personality and role model is a privilege and is something I’ve embraced.”

“Tracktown”

Producers/directors: Alexi Pappas and Jeremy Teicher

Where to see it: The film is in post-production, and the creators aim to release it at the end of 2015 in time for next year’s film festival circuit. Visit tracktownmovie.com for updates.

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Champion magazine goes behind the headlines and beyond the scoreboards to celebrate the unique connection between Americans and college sports. Champion is published by the NCAA.

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