This past Sunday afternoon, Scott Jurek broke Jennifer Pharr Davis’ Appalachian Trail speed record. Both were supported, but she went North to South. He went the harder, but more romantic way, South to North. I wrote about the attempt two weeks ago when Debbie and our kids found him on the trail in Massachusetts. A lot has been written about the attempt and success. Just Google it.
This video interview is candid and entertaining. It also touches on the important reasons why endurance athletes take on challenges like the AT speed record. I get it. I’m inspired by it. Jurek mentions his connection to the land and the importance of trails. Enough said.
The social media craze around this attempt was amazing. Jurek is a well-known name. Jennifer Pharr Davis’ attempt was much lower key. As was Karl Meltzer’s first attempt in 2007. Karl is planning an attempt on the record (though North to South) in 2016. I wrote about Karl’s 2007 attempt back then, and followed up with a post when he finished the trail, but missed the record several weeks later.
I’m thrilled that the AT got this much attention but concerned about overuse. I’m also thrilled that east coast trails were tested by a west coast trail runner/ultrarunner/super-hiker who admitted that he didn’t do any reconnaissance in advance of the attempt. He suffered dearly for that decision and nearly missed the record as a result. The White Mountains are not to be taken lightly! And Maine, it just gets harder when you get there. I’ve railed against a west coast bias for years. The running media just doesn’t give east coast trails and east coast runners nearly the respect that they deserve. Scott Jurek, a man with Seattle and Boulder roots, who came out of the mid-west, but made a name for himself by winning a major race in California a record seven times in a row, suffered for 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes. That proves that our trails, east coast trails, and especially New England trails, are incredibly challenging.