Ultrarunner Scott Jurek came to town last night. I was so beside myself I could hardly stand it. I felt like a teenager again.
I may run ridiculous distances, toss back an occasional beer with the guys, and pee in the woods when I have to, but I am, first and foremost, a girl. All I wanted last night was to have my photo taken with Scott Jurek.
Of course I wanted to hear what he had to say, and was sad I didn’t make it home in time to change clothes to run with him and the group. But like the Celebrity Runner Groupie I have apparently become, the photo was paramount.
First things first: What a nice guy! The number one comment I heard from all my friends who met him that night was how nice and down-to-earth he is. He seems to have an inner happiness and enthusiasm for life that is infectious. He’s the kind of guy you would want to spend a lot of time with — like on a 100+ mile trail run, perhaps — and you can tell he genuinely likes being around people and having fun with them. He is unpretentious, humble, and willing to share what’s he’s learned about ultrarunning.
I am starstruck.
Some things I learned from Scott:
1. Favorite races: Hardrock 100 and Spartathalon. That’s 100 as in 100 miles long, and the Spartathlon as in 153 miles from Athens to Sparta. Hardrock is considered to be one of the toughest races in the country, with 33,000 feet of climb at an average elevation of over 11,000 feet (thank you, Wikipedia). I guess I’ve got some training to do. (Note: this question was personally asked by me — I was sitting on the front row with little hearts and angels floating around my head so I wasn’t hard to miss — and he looked into my eyes the entire time he spoke to me. I’m not even sure how I remember his answer. Read it and weep, ladies. And yes, I know he recently got married, so hush.)
2. He’s run Badwater twice and does not want to run it again. I cannot for the life of me imagine why. The Badwater Ultra is a 135 mile road race through Death Valley in mid-July, starting 282 feet below sea level and ending at an elevation of 8360 feet at Mount Whitney (thanks, again, Wikipedia). I ran a marathon in Death Valley one February. Just sayin.’ But it’s nothing compared to the Badwater Ultra.
3. Eat real food early in an ultra, and eat often. Save the GUs and energy gels for later in the race. Real food for him is tortillas filled with beans, or rice balls, for instance. Vegetarian dolmas work for me, if you’re wondering.
4. He looks forward to being a middle of the pack runner one day, but for the time being wants to remain competitive. He says winning is fun. I’ll take his word for it. I believe he said that Leadville is his next race.
5. He’s a humanitarian and will be taking a team of runners to Ethiopia to help fight blindness there. There are still a few places left if you’d like to accompany him. You can find more details on his blog. (And yes, you know I want to go.)
6. To train for a trail race with lots of hills or elevation, he recommends lots of strength training (2-3 times per week) and core work, squats, lunges, downhill repeats, and running down the stairs of tall buildings (if you live in a large city, of course).
7. He had just come from a memorial event for Caballo Blanco, aka Micah True, in Copper Canyon with the Tarahumara. He told us about searching for Micah when he went missing, expecting to see him come running out from somewhere at any moment, but knowing if he had to go it would be a perfect place and way for him to leave. He also said that doctors believe running may actually have extended his life an additional ten years or so, based on his family background. Nice to hear after my post last week about long distance running and damage to the heart.
8. The actor Peter Sarsgaard is working on a movie version of the book Born to Run. Scott says he doesn’t know who will play him in the movie, but that Sarsgaard, a runner himself, has said he wants real runners in the movie. He has hinted at Scott playing himself, but Scott’s not sure if he’s kidding or not. Cast him, Peter!
Scott spoke for almost an hour, and gave lots more information, but it was all just a little too much by the end. Remember, I was starstruck. And I was sitting on the front row.
If you haven’t read it yet, his book Eat and Run is fantastic. Read it. And then get out and run.
* Thank you, Luke’s Locker, for bringing Scott Jurek to Dallas, and thank you, Scott, for coming to visit! Please come back soon so I can run with you next time!