Ultramarathoner Scott Jurek Sets A New Speed ​​Record. came face to face

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There are four more months to 2021, but this could be considered the year that many so-called superhuman sports stars finally decided it was okay to admit they were human.

Simone Biles He withdrew from the Olympic gymnastics team final because the pressure caused him to lose the ability to follow his body as he rolled through the air. Naomi Osaka He withdrew from Grand Slam tennis tournaments to address his own mental health struggles. Runner Noah Lyles He talked about taking antidepressants.

Last month, a star ultramarathoner did his own reality check.

Scott JurekThe seven-time winner of the 100-mile Western States race set out to try to reclaim the backed speed record for the nearly 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail. The Appalachian Trail record Jurek set in 2015 was three years before Karl Meltzer set it in 2018.

The goal was ambitious but doable: Jurek has a long list of track running achievements, including winning the 100-mile Western States race seven times. But he swears that getting the record back wasn’t the primary motivation.

“There was this urge to know that I could do things better and a desire to go back and rediscover everything I’ve been through, the effort, the discomfort and the challenges,” Jurek said. “This is the spiritual place where you have to go for performance.”

Jurek was 41 when he set the record and is now 47. For months, he trained more for this task on the trails and track near his home in Boulder, Colo., doing exercises that included strength training between intervals—plyometrics, box jumping, push-ups, and sit-ups. — all in preparation for the grueling challenges of the Appalachian Trail – scaling rocks, jumping over fallen trees and tree roots.

On August 4, at Katahdin Mountain in Maine, a support team of two was ready to go hiking with his wife and two young children. Reaching his destination was roughly 50 miles for 40 consecutive days, which required him to convert somewhere between 16 and 20 hours a day.

It all started well, but on day five, descending from the Bigelow mountains in Southern Maine, on a section of trail full of rocks and roots and with little opportunity to really run, Jurek began to feel tension in his left quadriceps muscle. He tried to prefer his right leg, which helped until the next day he felt the strain in his right foot.

He tried to relieve the pain by stretching and massaging, but his speed soon dropped to less than two miles per hour. The next two days he significantly reversed his mileage, putting his record attempt in serious jeopardy, but before long his leg felt like there was sandpaper between muscle and bone. It was something he knew could not come back. A few days of rest might have helped, but by then all hope for the record would be gone.

Eight days later, his search was over.

Jurek has withdrawn from races before, but this was something different, he said. A lot of time and investment was spent on planning. His friends and family had their lives turned upside down by planning for a six-week venture.

Still, he had to admit that sometimes even he himself had a limit to what he could endure.

“I have great faith in finishing what you start, but sometimes it’s okay if I struggle to finish it,” he said. “There are times when I don’t have to suffer so much to finish.”

Ever since returning home, Jurek has been trying to figure out what he might have done differently. This time he decided to run from north to south, the exact opposite of his record-breaking run in 2015, trading essentially oppressive heat for some of the toughest terrain to begin with. Maybe it was a mistake, he thought. But there’s no easy way to do that many 50-mile days in a row.

Will Jurek try to set a new Appalachian Trail record again? It’s too early to ask. Now he’s back to cycling around the neighborhood with his kids. Opening his suitcase the other day, he pulled out a map of the road from his bag. He looked at a point roughly halfway through and thought, “I should have been here at this point.” This was raw.

Part of him doesn’t want to subject himself to this ordeal again, but his wife, Jenny, has stated that he’ll probably want to go back to “clean up the mess,” Jurek said.

“It’s good to be humble,” he said. “People need to be humble to have experiences that we need to adapt to, because that’s where the magic happens. How do we fit in a challenge? There is beauty in the struggle. The truth is, you don’t always win. You can be defeated.”

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