SCOTT JUREK’S new book – Eat & Run; My Unlikely Journey To Ultramarathon Greatness was released on June 5. It immediately went to the #34 on the Amazon List and has remained in the Top 100. Scott is the best-known ultrarunner in the world, with 7 victories in a row at the Western States 100, and a 3-time winner at Greece’s 153 mile Spartathlon. He is currently designing a new style of hydration pack for Ultimate Direction.
On Sunday, we caught up with Scott in the middle of his 14 city book tour. He gave us the up-to-date insider scoop on the tour and how he feels about the book.
WHERE ARE YOU?
Portland, OR. Jenny and I have an off-day. It’s been crazy! I’m recharging the batteries for the coming week.
WHAT’S BEEN THE RESPONSE?
We’ve had amazing turnouts – 650 came to the talk in New York City, and 300 did the Fun Run in Central Park. Boston sold out a 250 seat auditorium, 450 came in Chicago, and about 400 people for the Run.
The first day of tour we did a 50k in New York City – 50 people joined me at 5 am to circumnavigate Manhattan – I’ve always wanted to do that. One gentleman who had never run 15 miles did his first marathon that morning.
It’s been good! People are really jazzed; it’s a lot of fun.
HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE THE BOOK OUT?
I’m excited to get my story out there in printed format. For years people have been asking me for a book, but I put it off because it takes so much effort, so much time … then I finally realized, “I’ve got to get this out there.”
I went from hating vegetables and hating running, to being the worlds best ultrarunner and doing it on plants – so it’s an interesting story. This book is really about change – about someone who chose a new path – and how we can all make choices for a healthier lifestyle.
WHAT ABOUT THE DIET PART – PEOPLE CAN BE DEFENSIVE?
There’s a lot of “running” in the book – the omnivore needn’t be scared off. This isn’t a vegan manifesto at all – it’s a book about transformation.
I was a meat and potatoes person from the hunt and fish area of Northern Minnesota – then I devoured fast food in college – and finally I ended up with what I consider to be a really successful diet. This book contains what I learned – people can take from that what works for them – which can be different for everyone. We like running because it’s a healthy thing to do, and I also pay attention to a healthy lifestyle beyond running.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART OF THE BOOK?
I’m excited when I hear people pull out quotes that really inspire them. Here’s props to my co-writer Steve Friedman – I wrote a lot, poured it all out on paper – and he managed to distill that into pieces that really move readers. We forget the details of our own lives, but then people come up to me and are excited to share something that moved them, and I develop more understanding myself.
I was burned out after writing the book; it was so hard. It’s just like a great race: when it’s over you are really tired, you just want to rest – only later the perspective and satisfaction comes.
And it was cathartic to trace it all – to see how everything that happened has shaped me.
Plus, sometimes I look back at things and think: “Wow, how did I do that?”
First, survive this book tour.
Then I’m running a Marathon in Kenya; it’s a fundraiser for the LEWA Wildlife Conservancy. We’ll go out on the Savannah, be with the wildlife – I’ve never been to Africa.
September 8-9 are the World 24 Hour Championships in Poland. These very simple track races are the ultimate tool for an ultramarathoner to dig deeper – I have the US Record, but there’s something there I still want to work on. Plus I have Polish roots, and Polish is the first foreign language the book has been translated into.
Beyond the immediate – I never intended to race as a Master; once I turn 40 I’ll take it easy on that front. There are great races I never did because I didn’t have the time, so I’ll do them for fun.
Physically I’m good, but mentally – do I have the drive? I’ve won a lot or races and it’s been great, but there’s always another race, another external goal – it could go on an on. Some great runners, like Ann Trason, don’t want to touch running anymore – I always want to retain my love for the sport. When do athletes decide enough is enough?
I’m attracted to projects in the mountains, the great routes. Adventure runs.
And I’ll be doing more non-profit work – childhood obesity is a big issue – I’m inspired to put more of my time into that.
THE BIGGER PICTURE?
I think there’s a Book Review coming up in Time Magazine, and the Wall Street Journal is doing something.
And the movie “Born to Run” is due out next year. The Screenplay is basically done and they are casting it now. Chris McDougall was on three of the Tour engagements, kidding with me the whole time, and Peter Saarsgard, the Director of the movie, came on the NYC Run. That’s the cool thing about Peter – he totally gets it – he wants the film to be authentic. Now he’s an ultramarathoner!
CATCH THE TOUR
As Scott says in his book, he wasn’t the fastest or most talented runner – instead, he grew and changed, committed and applied himself, became a great student of the sport and the human body, and showed up every year at WS100 totally prepared to throw down. No one beat him.
Now he’s doing the same thing with Phase Two of his career. We look forward to seeing his design for a new kind of running pack!
Your Comments welcome!