Alternative Running Role Models #3 – Dorothy out of Gregory’s Girl

imageMy research for this post has been more frustrating than my attempts to do a 5K in less than 24 minutes. You see I’m 90% certain that I own the DVD of this film but every time I have another search for it around the house, I always come back empty handed.

It only recently occurred to me that although Dorothy (played by Dee Hepburn) is best remembered for her football skills, in the opening shot of Gregory’s Girl, she’s out running. Not fast, not plodding, but “in the zone”, running around a country park on the edge of a Scottish new town. This key aspect of her life appears to have been wiped from history, all those searches on Google Images for “Gregory’s Girl running” or “Dee Hepburn jogging” haven’t unearthed anything apart from a blurred still from the opening credits.

This was the first ever film I saw at the cinema which featured a runner. Coincidentally, when I saw it, Gregory’s Girl was the first of a double bill, followed by a movie jam packed with runners: Chariots of Fire. So maybe this was where the running bug scuttled into me and lay dormant for 30 years (although I’d never admit to being inspired to start running by Chariots of Fire).

Gregory suspects Dorothy might have the early symptoms of runner's knee

Gregory suspects Dorothy might have the early symptoms of runner’s knee

What I do remember about Dorothy, running around the park at sunset, was that she made it look fun and effortless. No asthmatic wheezing, no hint of shin splints, no pompous Vangelis soundtrack. What was she thinking about when she ran? Maybe she was plotting how to sensitively let Gregory know she wasn’t interested in his advances. However, rather than just telling him to sling his hook, perhaps she used her workout as an opportunity to plan how to lead him to a dream date with Susan (played by Clare Grogan, sigh). The date might culminate with Susan and Gregory sitting on top of a hill, Gregory wearing a white jacket that could only have been worn in the 1980s, Susan wearing a particularly fetching beret. Perhaps they might see who could come up with the best numbers and practise dancing on their backs as they gazed at the stars? So much easier to keep fit and plan things in detail when there was no such thing as a Garmin to distract you every 30 seconds.

Dorothy from Gregory’s Girl, original Scottish Parkrunner, we salute you.


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