You’ve heard of the Appalachian Trail. You know it’s really, really long. You know it’s steep. You probably even know a few people who’ve tried to hike it and given up. After all, three out of four hikers who set out to complete the seven-month journey don't make it.
Scott Jurek is not one of those people. Of course, he didn’t set out to just finish the trail—he set out to beat the record for the fastest journey, running more than 2,100 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. This weekend, he beat Jennifer Pharr Davis’ previous record by just over three hours. In other words: He did it.
A veteran ultramarathonner and sixteen-year vegan, Jurek completed the trail in 46 days, 8 hours, 7 minutes. The feat is a major victory for Jurek, even considering his long string of wins in Western State 100s and record-setting times in ultramarathons all over the country.
Held back by an injury in the first week of the journey, Jurek fell behind pace early on. His right knee flared up, and then compensation in his left leg led to a quadriceps tear.
“I had never experienced that level of quadriceps tear before,” he told us. “Trying to hobble with two bad legs down a trail is literally impossible. I thought for sure at that point I’d be done and I wouldn’t be able to continue." But the next day, he walked it out and covered substantial ground (if less than he originally hoped for). He focused on minimizing the stress on his joints, concentrating on the alignment of each step. Soon, he was running again.