Scott Jurek has capped an amazing career with one of the most impressive records of all time. The 41 year old vegan has completed the Appalachian Trail which crosses 14 US states, covers 2189 miles and includes height gain of 160,000 metres.
The epic journey took Scott 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes, beating the existing record by three hours. He averaged over 50 miles per day. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy says 15,000 people have completed the trail, although only one in four hikers starting the course have finished it.
Scott has authored ‘Eat & Run’ which tells the story of his ultrarunning and vegan fuel. He was supported by a crew consisting of friends, other runners and his wife.
Plans did not run smoothly and as Scott says “everything that could go wrong, went wrong.” Original plans to complete the trail four days earlier had to be shelved and five days before finishing, Scott felt that the opportunity had slipped. In the first week he picked up injuries to his knee and quad, and when in Vermont experienced one of the wettest months on record.
On day 43 Scott asked a fellow runner to help with the schedule. “They asked me, do you want the record or do you want to sleep?” said Scott. He believes he slept around ten hours in the last four days.
“I am way tougher than I think I am,” Jurek said. “Just when you think you have gone to the deepest darkest place, you have something more to give and you have deeper places to go.”
“I had been shredded to the core. I didn’t know how much more I could give,” Jurek said. “This trail has a way of doing that to you. You find strength that you never thought you had. That’s why I do this stuff. At the other end of that deepest darkest place, there’s an ease and joy on the other side."
“Somehow I made it through, and that’s something everybody can take home. Maybe they don’t have to go from Springer to Katahdin, maybe they don’t need to be crazy like me, but they can find that strength in other ways.”
The incredible run is considered one of the greatest in Scott’s career, which already included some world-class highlights. We was a regular competitor at the Western States 100 mile Endurance run, possibly the highest profile ultramarathon event in the world, recording seven consecutive wins. He won Badwater twice – a 135 mile race that starts below sea level and finishes on a mountain, crossing Death Valley – one of the hottest places on earth. He has set ten ultramarathon course records and won at least 24 ultramarathons.. In 2010 he set the American 24 hour record with a 165.7 mile run.
This could be his last great event.
"This is the summer before my wife and I want to have kids so I am pretty close to my retirement," Jurek told Runner's World in May. "I would say this is going to be my masterpiece."