North/ posted in: Book Review, Reading North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail by Scott Jurek, Jenny Jurek
on April 10, 2018
Genres: Nonfiction, Personal Memoirs
From the author of the bestseller Eat and Run, a thrilling new memoir about his grueling, exhilarating, and immensely inspiring 46-day run to break the speed record for the Appalachian Trail.
Scott Jurek is one of the world's best known and most beloved ultrarunners. Renowned for his remarkable endurance and speed, accomplished on a vegan diet, he's finished first in nearly all of ultrarunning's elite events over the course of his career. But after two decades of racing, training, speaking, and touring, Jurek felt an urgent need to discover something new about himself. He embarked on a wholly unique challenge, one that would force him to grow as a person and as an athlete: breaking the speed record for the Appalachian Trail. North is the story of the 2,189-mile journey that nearly shattered him.
When he set out in the spring of 2015, Jurek anticipated punishing terrain, forbidding weather, and inevitable injuries. He would have to run nearly 50 miles a day, every day, for almost seven weeks. He knew he would be pushing himself to the limit, that comfort and rest would be in short supply -- but he couldn't have imagined the physical and emotional toll the trip would exact, nor the rewards it would offer.
With his wife, Jenny, friends, and the kindness of strangers supporting him, Jurek ran, hiked, and stumbled his way north, one white blaze at a time. A stunning narrative of perseverance and personal transformation, North is a portrait of a man stripped bare on the most demanding and transcendent effort of his life. It will inspire runners and non-runners alike to keep striving for their personal best.
I’ve been interested in Scott Jurek’s career because he is known for doing ultraendurance events as a vegan. A lot of people were of the opinion that it couldn’t be done when he started. I’ve read his other book and enjoyed it so when I saw this one I was excited to read it.
The story is told in alternating viewpoints – Scott’s experience on the trail and Jenny’s experience heading up the support crew. They were at a crossroads in their lives and envisioned the run as a personal adventure. They underestimated the amount of help that they would require for it to happen.
People show up to run sections with Scott. Friends come from all over to coach Scott through hard sections. Some of them have held the record previously. Others are planning their own attempts to break the record.
The run is brutal. I don’t know why anyone would want to run 30-50 miles a day or more for 46 days in a row. I really don’t know why they’d want to keep doing it when they are injured or when it won’t stop raining or when they are too far behind pace to be able to stop and sleep. Ultrarunning is definitely not for me but I do enjoy reading about it.
The epilogue talks about the next year when Scott goes back to the trail to be on the support crew for one of his friends who crewed for him. There is a documentary on U.S. Netflix now called Broken. It is about that attempt to break Scott’s speed record. The film isn’t that great on its own but a lot of the same people crew (expect for Jenny Jurek) so you get to see the people you read about in the Jureks’ book. You can also see sections of the trail to understand exactly how challenging it is.
I am linking this review up with the Year of the Asian reading challenge.