#37 | Jenny & Scott Jurek on the Appalachian Trail Speed Record, Parenting, and What's Next
Backpacker Radio
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Are there other forms of cheating found in the sport ? 00:00

Ultrarunning is pretty pure sport, but some competitors cut courses and cause issues.


How did the “Eat and Run” and “Born to Run” books change Scott’s life? 00:00

They brought a new spotlight to the forefront of ultrarunning and to his life and experience personally and professionally. It exposed his career to a lot of people who may have otherwise had no awareness of the sport.


What is Scott’s new book? 00:00

“North” is written by Scott and Jenny and details the AT endeavor from 2015. It gives both of their perspectives, which offers unique insight into the adventure.


What did Scott anticipate he would be doing career-wise? 00:00

Scott saw himself as a game warden and he studied hard. Education was important to his parents and they saw it as necessary for him to succeed. But, his goals and trajectories evolved.


What is attractive about the ultrarunning sport? 00:00

It is not only physical, but very mental. It levels the playing field. One can make up for lack of one of those with the other which makes the sport interesting.


What sports are the Jureks hoping their children will try? 00:00

They never want to push their kids into anything, but desire to provide them with opportunities to be exposed to sports, music, etc. and let them determine what they enjoy. Scott hopes they might not become as competitive as he is because of the grueling pace that is required.


Will Scott be back on the trail anytime soon? 00:00

He doesn’t anticipate being as competitive as he once was because of the natural process of getting older. At 45, he realizes that the younger athletes entering the sport are probably able to surpass his current abilities.


How was the book writing process for Scott and Jenny? 00:00

It was grueling and tough with so many revisions and edits. At times, they begged to just be back on the trail.


As a lifelong athlete and competitor, has Scott done anything on a high level, competitive degree since the AT FKT in 2015? 00:00

He has not. Having kids and writing a book became his primary focuses.


What advice do Scott and Jenny have regarding their lifestyle and entering parenthood? 00:00

Relationships cannot be one-sided and parenting requires a balance between partners. They have learned much about each other and demands ebb and flow as Scott and Jenny train for different races. Sacrifice is necessary and things cannot be all about one person.


What does Scott and Jenny's active lifestyle look like with balancing parenthood ? 00:00

Scott and Jenny’s kids love the outdoors and being active. The couple has been able to figure out a way to still infuse their lifestyle into their lives. But, changes have had to be made and they are more restricted on what they can do.


What are some other trails that have peaked Scott's interest that he hasn't had the opportunity to hike yet ? 00:00

The GR trail that goes across Europe as well as the Camino and trails in the Himalayas. He would also like to explore the Colorado and Arizona trails in the United States.


Do women participate in ultrarunning as well ? 00:00

The number of women in ultrarunning has always been high compared to marathoning, but even more so now. Sometimes races will be 50/50 which makes races fun and interesting.


Are there other forms of cheating found in the sport ? 00:00

Ultrarunning is pretty pure sport, but some competitors cut courses and cause issues.


Who is Scott Jurek? 06:00

Scott Jurek was arguably the most talked about person on the Appalachian Trail in 2015 as he was a very popular ultra runner who took his abilities to the trail. Scott ran his first 50 miler in his home state of Minnesota and has not stopped ever since, winning some of the biggest ultramarathon races. In 2015 Jurek set the fastest known time (FKT) for completing the Appalachian Trail.


Do you lose your mind during long ultra races? 07:58

You do, and in fact Jurek tries to lose his mind on purpose by relaxing and not thinking too much of the race. There are times when you gotta do the basics mental load, but for the rest of the time you have to find a way to get your mind off things.


When did ultra running turn into a feasible career? 12:41

Scott was in debt from ultra running for longer than he was making money. For a long time he would only getting some sponsorship money to cover his training expenses, but not actual paychecks. It's only started to change about 10 years into his running career.


What are ultra running prize packages like today? 13:43

On the high end, a $5,000 prize might be available. Often, there are $1,000 prizes. Occasionally, there are $10,000 races. Some of the very elite races have no prize money as they try to keep the tradition of the sport intact.


How do athletes make money if they are not paid for races? 14:59

Endorsement and sponsorship dollars are where the bulk of someone’s income from races would come from.


What does Scott think about the Eastern States 100 race? 15:49

It is a new race that includes 30,000 vertical feet in a 100 mile race. Pennsylvania, and specifically the race area is supposed to be pretty rocky and filled with rattlesnakes.


How did Jenny and Scott Jurek first meet? 17:37

Jenny was working for a shoe company. Scott was one of their athletes. The rest, as they say, is history.


Has the ultra running world changed in the last decades? 19:09

It has gotten a lot bigger and is more on the map. There are a lot of popular races that people want to get into. The number of participants and the number of women has steadily increased. It’s fun and interesting.


Is there any drug testing in the ultra running sport ? 20:30

With the increase in popularity and potential prize money associated with ultrarunning, testing is now done more frequently. Ultrarunning is pretty pure as a sport, but some competitors do cut courses and cause issues. The culture of the community also doesn’t lend itself to this since so many ultra runners are friends.


What injuries did Scott endure on his Appalachian Trail hike ? 25:18

He tore his quadriceps muscle very early on and endured kneecap issues on the other leg. Two bad injuries at the same time meant he had to use his hiking poles as crutches.


What is the normal amount of time needed to recover from the issues he was dealing with ? 30:36

It is usually 4-6 weeks, which was the entire time slated for his trail adventure. Scott's wife Jenny thought he was certainly done and would not be able to finish.


Regarding marriage, what was the expectation for what this time on the trail would look like as Jenny followed along in a vehicle ? 36:03

There wasn't much space for alone time. Fans appeared on and around the trail and increasing crowds meant that Scott's adventure was a bit overwhelming for her. Scott and Jenny found energy through the fans, but Scott also needed space.


What is Scott's personality and how did that translate into the hike ? 41:04

He considers himself an introvert who enjoys people. He took time to enjoy the fans that would find him on on the trail, but he also had to keep in mind his goal of hiking 50 miles per day.


What was the experience like for Scott as an inspirational figure for others? 43:36

Scott found it crazy, cool, and fun. Energy was shared amongst everyone which makes the world a better place.


Scott went northbound on the trail instead of southbound, which is what the FKT is built for. In hindsight, would he have still gone backwards ? 55:31

Scott would have potentially switched his course, but did it for aesthetic reasons. The previous records were set going northbound, which was motivating for him. The weather was brutal, though.


What advice would Scott offer to someone who wants to go after an FKT trail? 58:20

Know why you are out there. When things get difficult on the trail and you feel you cannot go on, Scott says that one must know your original motivations.


How much weight did Scott lose on the trail ? 01:08:18

19 pounds.

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