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Eat and Run: My Unlikely Journey to Ultramarathon Greatness Paperback – April 2, 2013
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Amazon Best Books of the Month, June 2012: While many of us sit behind a desk for eight or nine hours a day, Scott Jurek is running. A legend among hard-core runners, Jurek has fashioned a lucrative career as an ultramarathoner. He runs, and wins, grueling races in excess of 100 miles, in a wide array of usually inhospitable environments: Death Valley, the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mexico’s Copper Canyon. And he does it on a completely plant-based diet. In Eat and Run, Jurek tells the story of how an average Midwestern kid growing up on meat he caught or killed himself became a vegan elite athlete. Part memoir, part training guide, part vegan manifesto, Jurek’s most inspiring proposal here is that running—like so many things in life—is less dependent on physical skill than it is on willpower. Runners of all levels, meat-eaters, and vegans alike will be inspired to lace up their sneaks and hit the trails. --Juliet Disparte
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"What a triumph—both Scott Jurek's life and this one-of-a-kind book. I've seen Scott in action as he defies unimaginable challenges, and thanks to this breathtakingly personal account, I finally understand how he does it. He rebuilt himself literally from the inside out, and the result is a man—and a story—unlike any other." —Christopher McDougall, best-selling author of Born to Run
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Jurek is (or "was" perhaps---I don't keep abreast enough of this sport to really know if he's still at the top of the heap as of this writing) one of the most amazingly dominant American ultrarunners, all the more remarkable because he's also a VEGAN---not only does he not eat meat and fish, but *all* animal products such as milk, butter, yogurt, cheese, etc. as well.
The book provides a compelling backstory of his humble roots and family history, as well as a vivid look at the ultrarunning experience and ultrarunning scene: what is it LIKE to run 50-150 miles at a time, and WHO are these crazy people who do such things???
He mercifully keeps the vegan moralizng/proselytizing at a minimum (a lot of vegans I've known are total zealots and revoltingly judgemental/sanctimonious), no more than a couple of sentences about the undeniably horrid treatment of animals in corporate farms (chickens, cows, and pigs especially), and mainly focuses on what he claims are the huge leaps in athletic performance that veganism gave him. Of course, he was already a smokin' fast (at least for mere mortals like myself) 2:38 marathon runner before he went vegan...had he gone from say, a 4:00 marathon to a 2:38 due to veganism, that would undoubtedly be much more persuasive, lol.
I liked the way that each chapter ended with a vegan recipe or two...not that I would ever try making any of the stuff myself (I'm not much of a cook to begin with), but I was somewhat curious to see what they were like. Also, many of the chapters ended with blurbs about running technique, race strategy, running shoes, etc. which could be very useful for beginning runners especially.
I found this book to an enjoyable, but uneven read. There were parts of the book that I found engaging--the descriptions of races, for one. When he describes running uphill on mile 100 through the searing Death Valley heat, running through the pain of a sprained ankle, and trying not to pass out from dehydration (or too much hydration), you feel like you're right alongside him in his road crew cheering him on. His sarcastic, pull-no-punches running partner Dusty is a great character, and I enjoyed reading about the way they trained together. He shared some beautiful and poignant moments with his mother, who suffered from multiple sclerosis when he was growing up. Although I'm an omnivore myself, I liked the vegan recipes (and tried some of them) and found the passages on veganism to be interesting, not preachy.
I would've liked to have read more about his relationship with his wives, both current and ex--his wife Jenny is only mentioned in passing at the end of the book, and scant mention is made of his first wife Leah. What was her (their?) role in his life and running career? He delves deep into his difficult childhood, and those chapters are some of the best in the book, but doesn't devote much space to his personal relationships as an adult. To me this was a glaring omission. I bought the book to read about the unique mindset of an extreme endurance athlete, and in some passages, Jurek excelled at this. But here and there, he would change gears and speak to the casual runner (e.g., me), or someone who wants to give running a try. There are other books out there which do a much better job of targeting that population and those passages in this book felt thrown in, or added haphazardly. I would've rather have seen that space devoted to ultrarunning.