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Runner stories

New pathways with Jenny and Scott Jurek

Jenny and Scott Jurek
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The ultramarathon running couple share how they’ve evolved in the sport together, their tips for getting kids outdoors, and why the Cascadia 16 is the ultimate trail shoe.

Meet the Jureks

If you’re into trail running, you’ve likely heard of Scott Jurek — he’s one of the most dominant and prolific ultramarathoners to ever run in the sport. Scott won the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run seven years in a row and finished first with mind-boggling times in some of the most challenging races in the world, including the Badwater Ultramarathon, The Spartathlon, and many more. In 2015, he set a record for completing the Appalachian Trail, running 2,200 miles in 46 days.

When he’s not racking up miles and vert, Scott is a speaker, author, and one half of a strong parenting team to his two young children. The other half of that team is his wife, Jenny, who also is a trail runner and ultramarathoner. When she’s not on a trail or being a mom, Jenny designs outdoor apparel and gear, and is pursuing her own line of active wear for young families.

We caught up with the Jureks to chat about running, parenting, and the importance of a good trail shoe.

On why they run

Jenny: I don't want to speak for Scott, but for me it's the joy, the health benefits, and a dose of sanity. It can be an escape from the craziness. It really grounds me.

Scott: We are on the same page. What's cool about running is that the reason you do it can change. For me, sometimes it can be really hard and I like to go to deep, dark, difficult places. And other times I'm just out there enjoying it. Sometimes it's an art form. Sometimes it's full-on grit and guts and good suffering. I think for both of us, running is where we really come alive and can be our best selves.

A woman running
A man running

On running together

It's not about all the races and the age group wins or the course records or any of that. It's really about those moments when you just soak in what's happening on the trail. When you get to share that with somebody you love that's your partner, you're going to have fun. It's a great way to connect.

Scott Jurek

Jenny: It's amazing. We feel young again. When we first started dating, I would always feel nervous running with him, but he's actually easy breezy. People love running with him because it's so comfortable.

Scott: I think so many people think being a serious runner like me means that you have to be running hard all the time. For me, I love to take a moment, go a little slower, or stop and check things out. So when I'm running with Jenny, it doesn't feel like I have an agenda or I have to be at a certain pace.

A woman and a man running on trail

On getting the kids outside

Scott: With kids, snacks are key because when the energy level goes down, things can start to unravel. Other than that you don't really need to have much to get your kids outside. Let them find things to play with, whether it's sticks and rocks or have them do a scavenger hunt. That's the beauty of being outside — you don't need much.

If you want your kids to do something, I think it's best to model it for them. They've been on the trail with us in the dark. They've seen us running and biking and doing races and events, so they want to run and ride their bikes, too. While they're still young and impressionable, we just try to get them to do the things that we love to do.

Jenny Jurek
Stretching together
A man and a woman running on trail with two kids

On changes in trail running over the years

Scott: The sport has obviously grown in popularity but trail running itself remains the same simple joy of moving your body through the woods. That is what makes it so special and more accessible.

Jenny: When I first started trail running over fifteen years ago, it was mostly older men, but there were several women in the community who I looked up to. It was awesome having these female role models and mentors to learn from. Now, there are so many more female trail runners who can win races outright while balancing careers and family life. It’s inspiring! I’d love to see more female athletes being profiled in the media and getting more coverage. The more women talk about the challenges we face, the better. I think women-only group runs, clinics, and retreats are great for creating community and support systems for female trail runners.

Side view of a man and a woman running in the woods

On trail running for newbies

Scott: Don’t focus on mileage, focus on time. Trail miles tend to be slower than road miles so try to set goals that don’t emphasize progress in terms of minutes per mile. Don’t be afraid to power walk and do a mixture of run-walking. The surface of the trail and the terrain will naturally mix up running and walking until running more is possible with fitness and experience.

On gear for moms and families

Jenny: Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to design products for a living that I actually use outdoors. When I was pregnant, I designed things that I needed but couldn’t find available. I believe that staying active through pregnancy helps with your physical and mental health, so I want to design gear for parents to keep doing what they love.

A man sitting at a picnic table with two kids while a woman standing next to a van

On the Cascadia

Footwear is really the closest link to the human that's running and the trail or road. It's the connecting point where everything happens. When I first started working with Brooks in 2004, they got me intrigued with the idea of building the ultimate trail shoe. The Cascadia was a new way of thinking about trail shoes — it was more neutral, it brought the center of gravity lower, and it wasn’t a road shoe that was built up from the heel like everyone else was doing at the time. It made the experience easier for the trail runner, whether you were a beginner or someone like me who was trying to perform at a high level. What’s cool about the Cascadia 16 is that it pays homage to the original version.

Scott Jurek

Jenny: The Cascadia feels just right to me: not too stiff, yet not too soft. It’s the perfect amount of flex and cushion while still protecting my feet on rocky terrain. I have wide feet and tend to get a lot of blisters but the toe box feels nice and roomy. Also the outsole tread is so good! I just fastpacked 40 miles on the Colorado trail in them and even with a backpack, I felt confident moving on all surfaces.

Running in the Cascadia 16
The Cascadia 16

On injury

Editor’s note: Scott Jurek began a quest for a new speed record on the Appalachian Trail in August 2021, but had to bow out of his attempt on day seven due to a severe tear in his quadriceps muscle.

“Even with all of my training and preparation, an injury of this magnitude did not allow me to actively recover on the rugged terrain of southern Maine. It’s devastating to be halted so early in my journey, but the risk of failure comes with the territory.”

Is the Cascadia 16 right for you?

The Cascadia 16 is for trail runners who want to explore and feel protected on changing terrain. The shoe is made to adapt quickly, so runners stay comfortable and stable. New features include DNA LOFT v2 technology for softer and lighter cushioning, an extra 2mm of foam in the midsole for added comfort, release grooves in the midsole allow for enhanced adaptability on rough terrain, and vertical grooves in the Ballistic Rock Shield to provide side-to-side adaptability.

Are you ready run on the trail? Read more about how to get started trail running with these beginner tips.

The Cascadia 16