Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek Attempted a New Speed Record. He Faced a Reckoning.

There are nonetheless 4 months to go in 2021, however it’s secure to say that it will go down because the yr when many supposedly superhuman sports activities stars lastly determined it was OK to confess they’re human in spite of everything.

Simone Biles withdrew from the Olympic gymnastics staff ultimate as a result of the strain had brought about her to lose the flexibility to trace her physique as she tumbled via the air. Naomi Osaka pulled out of Grand Slam tennis tournaments to handle her personal psychological well being struggles. The runner Noah Lyles talked about taking antidepressant medicine.

Last month, a star ultramarathoner had his personal actuality verify.

Scott Jurek, the seven-time winner of the 100-mile Western States race, got down to attempt to reclaim the supported pace document for the roughly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. Jurek’s Appalachian Trail document, set in 2015, stood for 3 years earlier than Karl Meltzer broke it in 2018.

The aim was formidable however doable: Jurek has a prolonged listing of path operating achievements, together with successful the 100-mile Western States race seven occasions. But he swears that getting the document again was not the first motivation.

“It’s that drive of knowing I can do things better, and there was this pull to go back and explore everything that I went through again, the effort, the discomfort and the challenges,” Jurek stated. “It’s this spiritual place you have to go to to perform.”

Jurek was 41 years outdated when he broke the document and is 47 now. He skilled for months for this quest, on the paths close to his residence in Boulder, Colo., and on the monitor doing exercises that included power coaching between intervals — plyometrics, field jumps, extra push-ups and situps than he cares to consider — all in preparation for the rugged challenges of the Appalachian Trail — scaling boulders, hopping over downed bushes and tree roots.

On Aug. four, he was at Mount Katahdin in Maine able to embark on his trek, with a help crew of two, plus his spouse and two younger youngsters. Achieving his aim would demand roughly 40 consecutive days of about 50 miles, translating to someplace between 16 and 20 hours a day on his ft.

Everything began out effective, however on the fifth day, coming off the Bigelow mountains in Southern Maine, on a part of the path crammed with rocks and roots and little alternative to truly run, Jurek began to really feel tightness in his left quadriceps muscle. He tried to favor his proper leg, which helped till the following day, when he felt the tightness in his proper quad.

He tried to work via the ache, stretching and massaging out the tightness, however his tempo was quickly all the way down to lower than two miles an hour. The subsequent two days he dialed again his mileage considerably, placing his try on the document in severe jeopardy, however earlier than too lengthy, his leg felt like there was sandpaper between the muscle and the bone. This was one thing he knew he couldn’t come again from. A couple of days of relaxation might need helped, however any hope for the document can be passed by then.

Eight days in, his quest was over.

Jurek has dropped out of races earlier than, however this was one thing totally different, he stated. So a lot time and funding had gone into the planning. His family and friends had upended their lives planning for a six-week enterprise.

And but, he needed to settle for that typically there are limits to what even he can put himself via.

“I’m a big believer in finishing what you start, but sometimes it’s got to be OK to not put myself through the struggle to finish,” he stated. “There are times when I don’t need to suffer that much to just get a finish.”

Since returning residence, Jurek has been making an attempt to determine what he might need performed in another way. He determined to run from north to south this time, the wrong way of his record-setting run in 2015, basically buying and selling oppressive warmth for among the most rigorous terrain at first. Maybe that was a mistake, he thought. But there’s no simple manner to try this many 50-mile days in a row.

Will Jurek try to set a new Appalachian Trail document once more? It’s too quickly to ask. He’s simply now getting again to biking across the neighborhood along with his youngsters. When he was unpacking the opposite day, he pulled a map of the path out of his bag. He gazed at a spot roughly halfway down and thought, “I should have been here at this point.” That was uncooked.

Part of him doesn’t need to topic himself to this ordeal once more, however his spouse, Jenny, has already talked about that he’s doubtless going to need to return to “clean up my mess,” Jurek stated.

“It’s good to be humbled,” he stated. “Humans need to be humbled, to have those experiences where we need to adapt to things, because that is where the magic happens. How do we adapt to a struggle? There’s beauty in the struggle. The reality is you don’t always win. You can be defeated.”