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Professor Still Can’t Believe His ‘Extraordinary’ Story Made It To the Big Screen

By Drew Menard, October 11, 2017

It was another step on a life journey for someone who has literally racked up enough miles to circle the globe four-and-a-half times. On Sept. 7, ultra-running legend and Liberty University professor Dr. David Horton stepped onto the red carpet and joined over 400 audiences nationwide to watch his life play out on the silver screen. The event was a one night only showing of “Extraordinary,” a film from Liberty’s Cinematic Arts, Zaki Gordon Center and Working Title Agency. It was the first major film school project in the country to have a national theatrical release.

Horton has raced from Mexico to Canada and Huntington Beach, Calif., to Central Park in New York City. At one point, Horton held the speed records for the Appalachian Trail, the longest hiking-only footpath in the world, as well as the Pacific Crest Trail. While “Extraordinary” depicts the physical toils of Horton’s ultra-running, the heart of the picture is his relationship with his wife, Nancy. The movie shows the sacrifices Nancy made for her family and the obstacles the couple faced as they tried to balance family life with David’s pursuit of his running goals.

Now entering his 39th year of teaching at Liberty, the exercise science professor said that he could not believe his story was being put to film, even as the production process unfolded. He saw the film for the first time at the showing, and it was not until the theater lights dimmed and he saw actors Leland Klassen and Shari Rigby (“October Baby”) portraying him and Nancy that the significance of the film hit home.

After the premiere, which required 13 screens in Lynchburg plus two encore showings, Horton still couldn’t believe that it was his story being told on the big screen.

“It seemed like (this happened to) somebody else,” he said. “I thought it was a good movie.”

“Our story seems so normal,” Nancy Horton added. “To make it into something this incredible, and to have so much of an impact on other people, who would have thought it?”

“Extraordinary” will release on Blu-ray and DVD via Universal Home Entertainment on Dec. 19. Click image to visit the film’s website.

The film was co-written and directed by Scotty Curlee, an assistant professor of cinematic arts at Liberty who was once one of Horton’s students.

“I know firsthand the impression David has left on his students,” Curlee said. “‘Extraordinary’ is really the tale of an amazing ultramarathon legend who impacted thousands of students for Christ because his wife was beside him every step of the way. I hope audiences left with a greater appreciation for the sacrifices spouses make and a desire to honor that sacrifice in return.”

“I’ve known Scotty Curlee for 25 or 30 years,” Horton added. “It has just been amazing. When he approached Nancy and me about making a movie, we thought, ‘You’ve got to be kidding.’ What Scotty has put together here is special.”

Curlee worked alongside 60 cinematic arts students behind the scenes. Liberty’s B.S. in Cinematic Arts is a two-year cohort program that emphasizes the “learn by doing” approach to higher education, placing students directly on movie sets in various jobs.

Horton’s tale is certainly worthy of the film’s title. But while his accomplishments are beyond what most people will achieve physically, he hopes that the uphill battles he faced and overcame — whether physical, spiritual, or relational — can serve as an inspiration to those who watch the film.

“I hope that this film will encourage many, many people to exercise or to move — to do something and to stick with it, not only physically, but also with respect to marriage and to working through problems,” Horton said. “I don’t encourage people to do the things that I do (physically) because they are extreme. My goal is to, hopefully, motivate people to pursue their dreams and their passions and to take care of their bodies.”

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