Scott Jurek

American ultramarathoner

Scott Gordon Jurek (born October 26, 1973) is an American ultramarathoner, author, and public speaker. Throughout his running career, Jurek was one of the most dominant ultramarathon runners in the world, winning the Hardrock Hundred (2007), the Badwater Ultramarathon (2005, 2006), the Spartathlon (2006, 2007, 2008), and the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run (1999–2005).

The longer and farther I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind—a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus.


  • The potential of the human body is immense. You can come out of some of the deepest, darkest holes if you keep pressing forward.
Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness, coauthored with Steve Friedman, Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2012. ISBN 978-0-547-56965-9
  • It's a hard, simple calculus: Run until you can't run anymore. Then run some more. Find a new source of energy and will. Then run even faster.
    • Ch. 1, p. 5
  • That summer I was nominated to go to the Team Birkie ski camp for the best high school cross-country skiers in the state. … The camp served vegetable lasagna, all kinds of salads, and freshly baked whole wheat bread. … I didn't have any choice, so I ate it all. And I couldn't believe how good it tasted! What was even more amazing was how great I felt. I trained more, and more often, at that camp than I ever had before. And I had never felt better, stronger. I suspected that what I was eating had something to do with how I was feeling, but it wasn't until years later, when I began to study the connection between diet and exercise, nutrition and health, that I learned the importance of diet for everyone — not just athletes. I would learn that a plant-based diet meant more fiber, which sped food through the digestive tract, minimizing the impact of toxins. The same diet also meant more vitamins and minerals; more substances like lycopene, lutein, and beta carotene, which helps protect against chronic disease. And it would mean less refined carbohydrates and trans fats, both implicated in heart disease and other ailments.
    • Ch. 4, pp. 31-32
  • I worried that my vegan diet might fail me. I worried that I'd run out of energy. I worried that the heat might prove too much. True, I wasn't as sore as I had been before going to a plant-based diet, and my recovery time was faster than ever. True, I almost never got congested, and whenever a cold or flu swept through Seattle, sending a lot of other runners to bed, I stayed healthy. And of course, I had battled Mount Si and prevailed, if a man could be said to prevail. I had also gone to California a week earlier and trained every day in the 100-degree canyons. But if you can imagine running 100 miles, you can imagine almost anything.
    • Ch. 11, p. 91
  • Every single one of us possesses the strength to attempt something he isn't sure he can accomplish. It can be running a mile, or a 10K race, or 100 miles. It can be changing a career, losing 5 pounds, or telling someone you love her (or him).
    • Ch. 11, pp. 100-101
  • The point was living with grace, decency, and attention to the world, and breaking free of the artificial constructs in your own life.
    • Ch. 12, p. 105
  • Ultrarunners — even the fiercest competitors — grow to love each other because we all love the same exercise in self-sacrifice and pursuit of transcendence. Because that’s what we’re all chasing — that “zone” where we are performing at the peak of our abilities. That instant when we think we can’t go on but do go on. We all know the way that moment feels, how rarely it occurs, and the pain we have to endure to grab it back again. The longer an ultrarunner competes, I believe, the more he grows to love not only the sport, not only his fellow ultrarunners, but people in general. We all struggle to find meaning in a sometimes painful world. Ultrarunners do it in a very distilled version.
    • Ch. 12, pp. 119-120
  • I'm healthier and I can run longer and faster because I eat a plant-based diet. But I don't preach to my carnivorous friends or lambaste anyone who eats a baked potato slathered with butter and sour cream. Anyone who pays attention to what they eat and how it affects them will naturally move toward plants — and toward health.
    • Ch. 15, p. 149
  • To run 100 miles and more is to bring the body to the point of breaking, to bring the mind to the point of destruction, to arrive at that place where you can alter your consciousness. It was to see more clearly. As my yoga teacher would say, “Injuries are our best teachers.” I'm convinced that a lot of people run ultramarathons for the same reason they take mood-altering drugs. I don't mean to minimize the gifts of friendship, achievement, and closeness to nature that I've received in my running career. But the longer and farther I ran, the more I realized that what I was often chasing was a state of mind — a place where worries that seemed monumental melted away, where the beauty and timelessness of the universe, of the present moment, came into sharp focus.
    • Ch. 18, p. 181
  • Rational assessments too often led to rational surrenders.
    • Ch. 18, p. 182
  • We move forward, but we must stay in the present.
    • Ch. 18, p. 184
  • Nature's arena has a way of humbling and energizing us.
    • Ch. 21, p. 219
  • We all lose sometimes. We fail to get what we want. Friends and loved ones leave. We make a decision we regret. We try our hardest and come up short. It's not the losing that defines us. It's how we lose. It's what we do afterward.
    • Epilogue, p. 221
  • We strive toward a goal, and whether we achieve it or not is important, but it's not what's most important. What matters is how we move toward that goal.
    • Epilogue, p. 227
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