September 30, 2015

Featured Runner of the Week – Scott Jurek

By Marek

Scott Jurek!

When the name of Scott Jurek comes up in the running community, the following come to mind: Born To Run, Western States 100 and possibly the best ultra runner of our time. Jurek made his name in the ultra running community long before Christopher McDougall made him a household name in his bestselling book.

Scott Jurek

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Winning the Western States 100 seven years in a row really exemplifies what Scott Jurek is all about. Yet, there is more to him than just running.

A Little Bio

Scott Jurek was born in a small town in northern Minnesota. Before running, Scott was involved in Nordic skiing which build his endurance. During the off season, Jurek started running to stay in shape. It was only when his Nordic skiing friend, Dusty Olson, brought him along to a 50 mile ultra marathon that Jurek discovered his true talent. It did not take long for Scott to reach new heights and start winning long distance races.
Growing up, Jurek did not have it easy. He had to look after his mom, who had MS as well as after his younger siblings. All this before he was even a teen. Running proved to be a great escape, a time to reflect, a time to be alone with his thoughts.
As his running improved and Jurek started winning, he started becoming a full package.

Scott Jurek experimented with different diets and supplements, including a raw food diet (which he has high regard for, except for the fact that it requires a lot of chewing). Eventually, early on in his career, Jurek turned to a vegan diet and has not looked back since. In his book “Eat and Run”, Jurek provides many recipes which are easy to make and have helped him in his running. The reasons for his plant based diet are simple. It works in terms of delivering necessary nutrition and helps speed up post run recovery.
Currently, Scott Jurek does not compete in many races, however, he takes on new ultra challenges. The most recent being the Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike, which he completed in a record time of 46 days 8 hours and 7 minutes, a distance of 2189 miles.

The Outstanding Bits

Where to start? The list of Scott Jurek’s achievements is a long one. However, there are those races that really stand out.
Western States 100 – a total domination! Jurek won his first Western States in 1999. For seven consecutive years, he was the top runner at this event. Now that is how you make your mark in ultra running history books – dominating the oldest ultra marathon. Not to mention, it was started as a horse race back in 1955. It turned into a human race in mid 1970’s when one man decided to see if he could complete the distance in under 24 hours.
Badwater – again, two consecutive wins of one of toughest races on the planet, running in the summer heat through Death Valley. Here, Jurek showed what fighting through the pain is all about! Read his book to get all the insights of the inner struggle and the physical strain such a race has on the body.
Spartathlon – three consecutive victories at this event showed that Scott Jurek is a world class ultra runner and can win races on other continents. His speed at this prestigious event is second only to the great Yiannis Kouros who has not been matched to this day.
I could go on listing many individual races which Jurek participated in and won and I am sure there are many more that he will win in the future. However, the 3 events listed above show what consistent runner Scott Jurek really is and how well he is able to focus on a goal.

A Little More

You knew it was coming. The story of Scott Jurek would not be complete without the mention of running in the now cult race, the Copper Canyon Ultra, known as the Ultra Caballo Blanco.

The race was the dream baby of Micah True, know as Caballo Blanco, who wanted to introduce modern runners to the ancient running tribe, the Tarahumara. Scott Jurek took part in the original race, which was the beautifully described in Christopher McDougall’s book, “Born to Run”. Jurek was defeated by the local runner in the initial race but came back the following year and won!
However, it is not just about the great victories! What makes Scott Jurek great is how he gives back to the running community. McDougall made sure to highlight in his book, how Jurek would spend many hours after finishing his race, cheering on other competitors, as they reached the finish line. He gives running a deeper meaning and shows that it is not only a physical act but a spiritual one as well.

Where To Look

Scott Jurek has been in the spotlight for nearly two decades now and there have been many books written which mention him, dozens of articles, fan pages and videos. Below are a few links to these resources which I encourage you visit: – Scott Jurek’s official website Runner’s World article entitled “King of Pain”
A selection of YouTube videos featuring Scott Jurek: