Celebrating Scott Jurek's World Record Run on the Appalachian Trail
Humans can do amazing things.
We think about that a lot at Brooks, where we get to see runners achieve some pretty extraordinary feats. Scott Jurek’s 2015 speed record on the Appalachian Trail certainly counts, but there’s more to the story than superhuman speed.
In July 2015, Scott set the world-record for traversing the Appalachian National Scenic Trail faster than any other runner in history. He completed the 2,189-mile route from Georgia to Maine in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes, starting at Springer Mountain and ending by climbing Mt. Katahdin.
In just under 7 weeks, he ran what takes most other hikers about 6 months. Scott crossed 14 different states, and gained and lost elevation equivalent to climbing Mt. Everest an astonishing 16 times.
No newcomer to extraordinary endurance challenges, Scott holds numerous titles in distances ranging from 50 kilometers to 153 miles from races like the Badwater Ultramarathon, Western States Endurance Challenge and Spartathlon.
But before all that, he wasn't a runner at all.
Scott has never been shy about the nontraditional start to his career: a nordic skier who reluctantly ran as cross-training. Over several years, running gradually began to take priority as Scott discovered the power of running to transform how he experienced the world, as well as the power he held to turn running from an obligation to an incredible gift.
As he worked harder, ran more, and discovered how sheer determination could carry him through the tough miles, he fell more in love with the sport. Many years and countless races later, he found himself in Georgia, about to embark on an attempt to run 2,189 miles faster than anyone else in history.
It’s easy to think that elite runners draw on their winning resumes, record-setting speed, or medals when they struggle mid-run or hit a wall during a race. That might be true for some, but Scott continues to draw on the same elements he did early in his career, before building an illustrious running resume: the will to persevere, a willingness to embrace discomfort, and an undiminished love for running, no matter what obstacles emerge.
During his time on the Appalachian Trail, Scott ran through dark nights and under hot sun. Driving rain dropped temperatures until it felt more like winter than summer. Gale force winds often made flat sections of the trail as challenging as the climbs. The weather and the trail presented countless challenges, especially as the weeks passed and fatigue set in.
But he continued to run, with passion and a quiet yet irrepressible optimism. For 46 days, he moved relentlessly toward his goal, buoyed by friends, loved ones, and other runners who followed his journey.
Reaching the summit of Mt. Katahdin, Scott's accomplishment was more than just the culmination of an elite running career. It celebrated a basic human characteristic shared by all of us: the ability to choose to do seemingly impossible things, and the euphoric feeling that comes after fighting to finish goals we set for ourselves—no matter if it’s running 2 or 2,000 miles.
In his own words, Scott calls running "the vehicle I have used to explore my potential and a tool I use to better understand the world around me."
Scott's only human. But his story shows us that being human is more than enough to do extraordinary things.