In The time of our lives Rutger van Castricum (presenter) and Chatilla van Grinsven (former basketball player) are training for the World Time Trial Championship in Australia. A few months to get as fit as a pro. A former sports director warns them in advance. For the physical pain and suffering during long hours of training. But especially against the fight they will fight with themselves. “You are fighting against something that is not there. Something you don’t see.” Training, he says, requires surrender.
On Monday night I watched the documentary Surrender which Marijn Frank made for her best friend Annemarie who had no time left to live. She died of cancer at the age of 37, leaving behind a husband and a 7-year-old daughter. She leaves Marijn Frank with her necklace and her running outfit. Red shirt, black pants. A year or two before it became clear she had a tumor in her tongue, she had started running. Running was good for her, says Frank in the film she made about her. “It helped her through dark times.” For her, the months after her friend’s death are so dark that she decides to take up running too, even though she hates it. Her friend ran the half marathon in Egmond, she runs the whole marathon in Berlin. Her coach warns her in advance. You can’t run from sadness. “When you get home, it’s just waiting for you.”
Is it fun to watch people try really hard to get themselves ready for a big performance? Not necessarily. On Friday evening, Rutger and Chatilla do not attract many viewers. Surrender is something completely different. Sure, we see Marijn Frank running as if her life depended on it, crying and looking at her watch to see how long the suffering will last. Throughout the training images she addresses her friend in voice over and we see images she made with her when she was sick. Intimate and deeply sad. Dying is bad, dying and leaving a young child is not possible.
It just so happens that I live in a house along the route of the Amsterdam marathon. I saw them again last Sunday. First the sprinters, then the strings of joggers, the jumpers and the people who visibly have something to prove to this or that person or themselves. Next year I will pay more attention to see if I see Marijn Frank passing by, now that she has learned to reflect on her lack by running.
To the broadcast of without a trace Monday evening I was curious. The pre-announcement revealed that Derk Bolt would reunite two participants with their biological families in Colombia. Just as commotion had erupted last week over past mismatches. An intermediary hired by without a trace would have linked adoptees to the wrong families. Especially in Colombia.
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The broadcast continued with an inserted introduction. Bolt made no apologies or blamed anyone. He did acknowledge the sadness and disappointment of the “few participants” in whom the match went wrong. He announced “thorough research” that would take “a lot of time.” There was no doubt about recent matches, he emphasized. Nowadays a DNA test is always taken. So do we see 36-year-old Joedi’s father reading a document confirming his paternity? For the blazon of Bolt, Joedi, by the way, was a dream participant. She said that she always knew that if she would ever look for her family, she would report to Spoorloos, and ‘Derk’ would help her. But then Bolt was kidnapped in Colombia (in 2017). That would have been “traumatic and intense” for him, she says. Her “dream” shattered, Bolt would probably never dare to go to Colombia for her again. He went anyway and found her father, but also her half-sisters, half-brother and mother.