His Wild Appalachian Trail Goal Wasn't Attainable

Scott Jurek's second fastest-known-time attempt lasted only 8 days
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 7, 2021 12:48 PM CDT
Updated Sep 11, 2021 1:10 PM CDT
He Tried, Failed to Reclaim His Appalachian Trail Record
That was the goal.   (Getty Images)

In 2015, ultra-marathoner Scott Jurek set a fastest-known-time record by tearing through the full 2,189-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, eight hours. At the time, Newser covered the fine he had to pay due to the fact that he celebrated with champagne. That record stood for just a year, with Karl Meltzer finishing the trail in 45 days, 22 hours, and 38 minutes in 2016. Jurek set out Aug. 4 intending to regain that record handily—he wanted to finish in 40 days or fewer. But there will be no champagne this time around. Jurek, 47, was forced to give up on Aug. 11 as he neared the New Hampshire border after suffering a muscle tear in his quad.

As the New York Times reports, it's possible a few days of rest would have turned things around, but with a punishing schedule that required he hike about 50 miles a day—or "between 16 and 20 hours a day on his feet"—rest meant the record-quest would end as soon as it began. Outside reports the quad injury was actually similar to one he suffered in 2015, but in that case, he was able to "push through or walk it off."

He had trained extensively, and the failure has left him wondering about certain decisions, like his choice to start in Maine this time, rather than Georgia, which had him avoid brutal heat but begin with the toughest terrain. As he tells Runner's World: "In the south [portion of the trail], I was able to bounce back as my body got used to the daily distance. Up north, I was starting to get used to it when the injury popped up. I kept going to see if the injury would give me leeway, but it just got worse and ripped it up more. I felt it more." But as the Times notes, "There’s no easy way to do that many 50-mile days in a row." (More Appalachian Trail stories.)

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