Episode 95 of Talk Ultra is a completely different show. We are devoting the episode to Scott Jurek and his wife Jenny. Scott Jurek completed the Appalachian Trail on July 12th covering the 2189-miles in 46 days, 8 hours and 7 minutes. It was a journey of incredible highs and lows, not only for Scott but also for Jenny. In this show we hear from both Scott and Jenny and and provide an insight into what it’s like to run and crew for such an epic and awesome journey… enjoy!
A creation that has been given much critical praise, especially one that is considered the greatest work of a person’s career or to a work of outstanding creativity, skill, or workmanship.
Scott Jurek called it his masterpiece and rightly so. We can all now look back at his incredible 2200 mile journey along the Appalachian Trail from Springer Mountain in Georgia to Mount Katahdin in Maine and acknowledge what he has achieved. Jennifer Pharr Davis had set the benchmark in 2011 in a time of 46 days 11 hours and 20 minutes for a supported thru hike. The speed hike record, unsupported is held by Mathew Kirk in a time of 58 days 9 hours and 40 minutes.
Scott Jurek completed the AT on July 12th 2015 in a time of:
46 days 8 hours 7 minutes
Undertaking the AT is a serious business. The demands that are placed on all involved are huge, you only need to ask Karl Meltzer what is required and he will tell you. It’s a beast and one that mustn’t be rushed in to. (Listen Karl’s in-depth chat on Scott and the AT on Ep90 HERE of Talk Ultra)
Months if not years of preparation go into a record so it came as a surprise when Scott Jurek announced on May 27th:
Embarking on a big adventure tomorrow, something I’ve always wanted to do. The time is now!
What has followed is an incredible journey. I encourage you to read my post HERE before continuing on.
What is the AT?
*The Appalachian National Scenic Trail, generally known as the Appalachian Trail or simply the A.T., is a marked hiking trail in the eastern United States extending between Springer Mountain in Georgia and Mount Katahdin in Maine. The trail is approximately 2,200 miles (3,500 km)[a] long, though the precise length changes over time as parts are modified or rerouted. The trail passes through the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. The path is maintained by 31 trail clubs and multiple partnerships, and managed by the National Park Service and the nonprofit Appalachian Trail Conservancy. The majority of the trail is in forest or wild lands, although some portions traverse towns, roads and farms.
The Appalachian Trail is famous for its many hikers, some of whom, called thru-hikers, attempt to hike it in its entirety in a single season. Others have managed to perform a “round-trip” of the trail where they thru-hike from one end to the other and then turn around to thru-hike the trail the other way, otherwise known as a “yo-yo.” Many books, memoirs, web sites and fan organizations are dedicated to these pursuits.
An unofficial extension known as the International Appalachian Trail continues north into Canada and to the end of the range, where it enters the Atlantic Ocean. Other unofficial extensions head south into Florida, creating what is known as the Eastern Continental Trail.
The Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Pacific Crest Trail form what is known as the Triple Crown of long–distance hiking in the United States.*
Below is a bow-by-blow account of Scott’s AT record as posted on his Facebook page in words and images. I don’t need to say more. What Scott has achieved is quite incredible. Bravo!
ALL CONTENT BELOW IS ©SCOTTJUREK AND ©LUISESCOBAR #SJAT15
Appalachian Trail Day 1 in the books! Departed Springer Mountain at 5:56am EDT, arrived at Unicoi Gap, 13:16:42 elapsed time. 52.9 miles, 11,400′ ascent and 12,100′ descent. Lots of fog and a little light rain early, then sun and mega humidity. Finding my groove and feeling good. Patience is key; it’s a long way to Maine! Hoping to have live tracking tomorrow.
Appalachian Trail Day 2 check! Departed Unicoi Gap at 5:49am EDT, arrived at Rock Gap, at 7:14pm EDT, 13:25:28. 53.0 miles, 12,942′ ascent and 12,230′ descent.
Going into the sunset hours tonight. After lots of rain today and a stiff dose of North Carolina Gnarl—aka long climbs and burly descents— this sunset on Bushnell Knob, 3,697′ is a welcome relief. 8:30pm, 48 miles in and 4 more to go!
Appalachian Trail Day 4: Service was limited in Smokies and another long day on the trail. These mountains are making me earn it! Departed Yellow Creek Gap at 5:49am EDT, arrived at Newfound Gap, at 9:20pm EDT, 15:29:22. 48.5 miles (Garmin had 50.6), 13,694′ ascent and 11,702′ descent. Entered another state, Tennessee and did 40 miles in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Had rough 4 hours midday and was so sleepy. It’s been hard sleeping at night due to fatigue in the legs. Took a 20-minute nap near Spence Field Shelter and came back to life. Got up the observatory tower for 360-degree views of the Smokies. Very impressed with the mountains here!
Appalachian Trail Day 5 update: Started the day with old and new friends at Newfound Gap at 6:49am EDT, arrived at Lemon Gap at 11:04pm EDT, 16:15:59. 52.7 miles, 11,627′ ascent and 11,702′ descent. Enjoyed seeing the rest of the Smokies and got a good dose of thunderstorms well into the night. No cell reception from Lemon Gap, hence the delay. Hoping I can end a little earlier tonight to catch up on some sleep!
June 2nd and 3rd
Appalachian Trail Days 6 & 7: Got my first real shower today instead of sponge baths at the van all week. Covered over 300 miles in 6 days, the most I have ever done in a week and feeling some effects. Monday morning departed Lemon Gap at 5:53am EDT, arrived at Devil Fork Gap, at 10:07pm EDT, 16:14:28, 49.4 miles, 11,958′ ascent and 12,103′ descent. Last night my left quad developed a severe strain due to compensating for my right patella femoral joint (kneecap) that became irritated coming down from the Smokies. Today I walked into Erwin, TN from Devil Fork Gap, 33.1 miles. Staying positive and need to get the quad back in order over the next two days. Otherwise I’m enjoying being out on the trail and meeting more thru hikers. I got to spread a little trail magic today to “No Poles” who needed a new pair of shoes and I had an extra pair of Brooks RunningCascadias. Onward!
Appalachian Trail Day 8 update: Yesterday was National Running Day and I found it ironic that I couldn’t run. Hope you all ran some miles for me! I had a good time on the trail, started in Erwin, TN at River Rd/Unaka Springs Rd 6:15am EDT, ascent 10,019′, descent 6414′, 37 miles to Carvers Gap at 9:27pm. 15:12:48 my knee and quad are slowly starting to rebound, it was good to have more ascent than descent. Today is a lot of downhill so we’ll see how everything holds up.
Photo from last night’s sunset on Roan Mountain, the 5th highest point on the AT. I didn’t know that several of the highest peaks are in the South!
Appalachian Trail Day 9 update: Yesterday morning leaving Carvers Gap had some of the best views I’ve seen so far from several open balds, a really beautiful section. Departed at 6:16am, ascent 7568′, descent 10,485′, arrived at Dennis Cove Rd at 8:22pm, 38.8 miles total 14:06:52
Appalachian Trail Day 10 update: Crossing a state border is always a thrill as it marks definitive progress. Stoked to make it to Virginia! Departed Dennis Cove Rd at 6:13am, ascent 10,088′, descent 10,495′, arrived in Damascus,10:07pm, 50.3 miles, 15:54:15. Huge thank you to The Duck House for putting us up last night and to the locals who joined me for some miles today and gave Jenny the morning off. No wonder they call this the “friendliest town on the AT!”
They say a picture is a thousand words. El Venado and The Jurker are back!
Appalachian Trail Day 14: This is Jenny Jurek checking in for Scott. He wanted me to post an update for him since he hasn’t had cell service the last 3 nights. Day 11 Damascus to Fox Creek, over the high point of Virginia, Mt Rogers, and saw the wild ponies at Massie Gap, 41.4 miles. Day 12 Fox Creek to VA 625, 51.8 miles. Day 13 VA 625 to Dismal Falls got to run with Clark Zealand in the morning and stopped by the party at the falls in the evening, 48.4 miles. Day 14, today he has two 20+ mile unsupported sections and we should be in Roanoke tomorrow where he can hopefully post another update.
Yes, I’m trying to fatten him up so we do appreciate all the vegan treats people have been bringing him. Thank you! PS if you ever see me in a McDonalds parking lot it’s because they have free Wi-Fi!
Appalachian Trail Day 16: Good morning from Roanoke! Started up to McAfee Knob today with a great group of locals and the Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke crew, thank you! Day 14 started at Dismal Falls and ended on a rocky and technical route to VA 613 Mountain Lake Rd, 51.6 miles. Day 15 was a hot/humid morning with a fun scramble off of Dragons Tooth and cooler temps to end at VA 311, 46 miles. Knee is feeling good and I am enjoying Virginia so far!
Milestones: Came upon these on the trail as I was making my way to Highway US 60 in the dark, finishing another hot and humid 50-mile day. Hard to believe we are over 800 miles into this 2,189-mile journey!
Appalachian Trail Day 20: Started the morning run with an old friend at mile 905.8 in Shenandoah National Park. Karl “Speedgoat” Meltzer has attempted to break the AT record twice and will give it one more go next year. Super psyched to share some miles and catch up with this guy who knows a thing or two about the trail ahead.
Appalachian Trail Day 17 crossed the longest footbridge on the AT over the James River and ended at US 60, 50.4 miles.
Day 18 lots of climbing up to Bald Knob, The Priest and Three Ridges and took a swim in the Tye River during the heat of the day, finished at Humpback Gap, 47.5 miles.
Day 19 entered my second National Park and welcomed the smoother footing through Shenandoah to Skyline 66.7, 51.9 miles.
Day 20 welcomed a nice breeze and my second mama bear sighting with two cubs on the trail, finished at Hogwallow Gap, 54.2 miles. Today is a new day!
Day 21: Three weeks! A quick recap of the last few days: Day 16 started at VA 311 and rolled into Jennings Creek, 48 miles.
Live from I70 footbridge, mile 1035 of the Appalachian Trail. Hard to believe if I headed west I’d be home in Boulder/Denver. Feels good to be hitting familiar latitudes!
Completed the four state challenge yesterday: Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland and Pennsylvania in a day. Made it to PA in the daylight and finished a 49 mile day after 54 and 57 mile days. First time in a while that I’ve finished before dark, feels so good! Maryland was a little training gym for the rocks of Pennsylvania!
This happened yesterday: HALFWAY!
Appalachian Trail Day 21 started at Hogwallow Gap in Shenandoah National Park and ended at a road construction site at Keys Gap, 57.1 miles.
Day 22 Rickey Gates joined the team for two days on his way to Mount Washington Hill Climb; it’s always nice to see another familiar face. I completed the four state challenge (VA, WV, MD, PA) and met a lot of great folks including a big group from the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, finished in light rain at Old PA 16, 49.5 miles.
Day 23 crossed the official halfway point and ended at the ATC Mid-Atlantic Regional Office, 54.7 miles.
Day 24 so many great people all day kept me going to Greenpoint School Rd, 59.7 miles.
Day 25 ran through Hurricane Bill into the night over some rocky terrain to Hawk Mountain Rd, 52.3. My buddy Russell brought me Thai food from NYC and Vegan Treats delivered two boxes of out of these world desserts, which made everything better.
Today, I slept in! Ran with Glen Redpath, Nathan Echols and a bunch of locals all day and cut it short at Wind Gap to catch up on sleep, 45.5 miles.
Day 26: Happy Summer Solstice! It’s an AT tradition to hike naked today but my fear of ticks got the better of me. Good night!
Appalachian Trail Day 27 started at Wind Gap, entered the state of New Jersey, took a nap, and finished way past my bedtime at High Point State Park, 58.3 miles.
Day 28: I startled a large black bear this morning and then came upon “Mama Bear” and her 3 kids “Strongman” and “Little Butt” (5 year old twins) and “Spicy Guy” age 11. They thru-hiked from Springer Mt to Harpers Ferry last year and this year are completing the second half to Katahdin completely self supported. Trail tough kids, built to last!
Appalachian Trail Day 29: Just ran over the lowest point of elevation on the entire AT, the Bear Mountain Zoo at 124′ (38m), right before crossing over the Hudson River. Kinda gives a new meaning to one of my favorite album’s opening lyric “New York, I love you, but you’re bringing me down.”
Amazing to be back in the Empire State, thanks for the love! Can somebody please bring me a vegan cinnamon roll from Peace Food Cafe?
Throwback Thursday to Day 4 of the Appalachian Trail running across Fontana Dam, TN with the love of my life. Without her this journey would be impossible. She is my lifeline and makes sure this ship keeps heading north. Jenny inspires me to keep putting one foot in front of the other when it seems impossible. Hard to believe how far we’ve come, Day 30 today! This one is for you babe!
Appalachian Trail Day 30: Almost through Connecticut and onto Massachusetts tomorrow!
Sunset from unnamed pond. The last two days in Connecticut and Massachusetts I’ve been noticing the subtle transitions to New England and the Northeast. Good night from Bear Mountain Road, MA!
Appalachian Trail Day 33: A storm greeted me last night and sent me off this morning at the top of Mt Greylock (3491′) the highest point in Massachusetts. Strong winds blew several trees down on the trail and I saw a large porcupine under one of them. Hoping this weather doesn’t hang around too long as I head into Vermont, or as the local hikers say, “Vermud.”
Happy Monday Morning! Everyday on the trail I eat at least one smoothie or shake, as it’s an efficient way to down calories and protein. Here is one of my favorite summer recipes, Avocado Key Lime Pie. Since this one is more like a dessert, I prefer to eat it in a bowl! So Delicious Dairy Free is having a Celebrity Shake Off and if my recipe receives the most votes they will donate $25,000 to my charity of choice Every Mother Counts. Please help support this amazing organization that helps make pregnancy and childbirth safe for mothers around the world. Vote today!
Appalachian Trail Day 36: It’s been the rainiest June in Vermont in 130 years so it’s only fitting that my last few miles were in a torrential downpour. Yesterday was a rough one but I was pumped to cross my second to last state line this morning. Hello New Hampshire!
Appalachian Trail Day 38: Twenty-minute predawn cat nap after an epic all-nighter from NH 25A to Galehead Hut in the White Mountains, 48.4 miles. Surreal traveling over granite mountains under a waning moon. Good times with Timmy O’Neill, Andrew Drummond and former AT FKT record holder Andrew Thompson who joined us for some miles and imparted his sage wisdom. Huge thank you to the guys who found us on the trail bearing gifts of avocado maki and vegan pizza!
Rise and shine!
Appalachian Trail Day 39: Perfect temps and views from the Northern Presidential Traverse on Independence Day, I’ve been looking forward to this section and it did not disappoint. Happy 4th, everyone!
Appalachian Trail Day 40: Coming to you live from the magic hour in MAINE!!!
Appalachian Trail Day 43: 2000 miles down, 189.2 to go. Getting closer!
Appalachian Trail Day 44: Kennebec River crossing this morning with my buddy Topher Gaylord. Reminded me of being a kid again! HUGE thank you to Adventure Bound John and Mandy for making this possible.
Appalachian Trail Day 46: My first view of Katahdin today, hard to put into words.
July 12th – Part 2
Appalachian Trail Day 46.5: Yes, this is happening.
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Purchase his book HERE
You can read all about the AT HERE