Homage to Marathon Mom

A mother runs, a daughter films – it all comes together in a powerful, prize-winning documentary.

JUDY AND ERIN FLANNERY had set aside the summer of 1997 for a mother-daughter road trip and film project. A world-class triathlete, Judy was to captain the only all-woman cycling team in the 3,200-mile Race Across America. Meanwhile Erin, a graduate student in USC’s School of Cinema-Television, was to videotape her mom’s ride.
But fate intervened when the 57-year-old cyclist, while training on a rural road in Maryland, was struck and killed by an out-of-control car. Undaunted, her teammates pushed ahead with the race under the name “Team Judy Flannery,” and Erin came along to shoot footage for what was to become Judy’s Time.
In March, the 40-minute film took first prize in the documentary category at the 21st annual College Television Awards, a major national competition recognizing excellence in student films and videos. Flannery also won the Bricker Family Award for Best Presentation of a Humanitarian Concern.
Erin Flannery was one of eight USC student filmmakers to receive awards in the competition, which is sponsored by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Foundation. More than 150 Academy members judged this year’s 281 entries in seven categories. Winners were feted at a gala awards ceremony, attended by more than 400 industry people, academy members and others, where they received cash prizes and grants for Kodak film stock.
THE FILMMAKER'S TRIBUTE to her exceptional mom could have easily lapsed into sentimentality. Instead, Flannery, who received her MFA in May, artfully weaves to-gether Judy’s achievements as a triathlete – she started running at 38, and went on to complete three Hawaii Ironman competitions, becoming a four-time world and six-time national age-group triathlon champion – with her roles as stay-at-home wife and mother of five, a volunteer at a Washington, D.C. soup kitchen and a devoted neighbor.
Making her documentary was a very personal journey for Flannery, who composed it from family movies, interviews, still shots, competition coverage and news footage from the fatal accident.
“I’m just really happy that an audience wider than my friends and family responded so well to the movie and got to know my mother,” she says. Someday, Flannery plans to show the film to her daughter, Judy, now 10 months old.

– Christine E. Shade

Knowing Write from Wrong

don’t expect to be busted for plagiarism before they even get to college, but that’s just what happens to those foolish enough to lift an application essay from the Internet and submit it to USC. Dean of admissions Joseph Allen has read ’em all, including the book The 50 Essays That Work. A 30-year veteran essay-reader, Allen recently told the Omaha World-Herald what he and his staff look for as they wade through 26,000 applications to fill just 2,700 slots: an authentic voice. “Students should write about things they know, things that are real,” he said.

Judy Flannery

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Illustration by Matthew Martin / Photo by Lucian Perkins, © 1996 The WashingtoN Post

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