For those of you who weren't aware, ultra marathon legend made a trip to Missoula recently. Luckily, I was able to adjust my schedule to allow me to take in the events on December 11th and 12th.
Before going any further, I need to make sure to recognize the people who really made this event a possiblility. First and foremost is The Runner's Edge. Using Mike Foote's connections to the ultra community and Anders Brooker's ability to make things happen for the benefit of the runnign community, they were able to convince Jurek to make a stop in Missoula as part of his "tour" promoting his book "Eat & Run". And, special thanks to Rick Wischcamper (an accomplished ultra man himself) who donated the use of the Wilma Theatre in downtown Missoula to host the Tuesday night talk. Thanks to their efforts, all of the events were free and open to the public.
So, as noted above, Jurek has been on the road for some time promoting his book "Eat & Run". Most of his venues were in bigger places like Dallas, Chicago and New York City. He's at the end of his "tour" and, thankfully, h agreed to come to one of the small, trail-crazy ZooTown.
The day started with an easy group run from the Runner's Edge. Scott and his partner Jenny were part of the small crew of 25 people or so who did a modified version of the River Root's 4-mile course. Scott floated back and forth between groups and did his best to at least touch base with as many runners as he could.
Friday night involved a talk to about 450 or so folks at the Wilma. He opened with a short video of his book trailer (which you can find on his website here: http://scottjurek.com/eatandrun/ ). Then he gave a low-key talk that mostly focused on some of his running, his trips to the Copper Canyon, overcoming adversity at Badwater and his general philosophy on what it took for him to reach the top in the ultrarunning world. He took some Q&A from the audience and had some very insightful comments.
After the talk he proceeded to the lobby where he sold and authographed his book for any and all. Jenny sold some t-shirts (that included quotes from the book). From the t-shirt sales they donated part of the proceeds back to the Missoula Youth Track Club (I think they raised over $150 for the club) - very cool thing for them to do.
I then had the good fortune to be able to attend a late dinner with Scott and some of the Runner's Edge crew; and, was even more fortunate to end us sitting at the far end of the table with him and a few others. The topics ranged from the psychology of endurance to running in cold weather to his next project in Ethiopia (some more info on that here from Scott's blog - http://blog.scottjurek.com/post/32406570742/eat-run-educate-cure-blindness-in-ethiopia ). And, once again, it proves something about elite runners.................they are a lot more like us than we think. We far too often put them on a pedestal and think that they are filled with magic answers and an impenetrable aura. (I think that we get that perception from our infatuation with pro football, basketball and baseball players.) But, over and over and over I have found that elite runners are much like use in that they have the same self doubts; the same issues with pre-race nerves; that they're typically a bit odd and geeky just like the rest of us; and, they like to hang out with other runners.
The next day there was a presentation on the 2nd Floor of the Runner's Edge with a small group of about 40 people. Scott and Jenny whipped up seasoned popcorn, hummus and some vegan "cheese" spread - just to show how easy it is to make some of the vegan foods that he eats on a regular basis. They shared the foods with the group; and, I have to say, it was Gooooooood Eats!!!!
But, the bulk of the time was Scott just answering questions from the crowd. It was a much more relaxed and intimate setting and allowed for some great feedback and insights from Scott. The topics were very wide and varied. He talked about his training, his racing, winter running, his diet, his work with Brooks on the Cascadia and with Ultimate Directions on their new line of race vests. It really gave some good insight about what makes him tick and the "secrets" to his success.
All in all it was a great two days of running related activities. And, I came away very impressed with Scott - even more so than after I had originally read his book. He's a pleasant, articulate, thoughtful person who happens to be a trail warrior. His message was basically "Hey, this is what worked for me. And, here's the things in life that led me to trail running and a vegan lifestyle. Maybe it will work for you; but, everyone needs to find their own way. Just be thoughtful and passionate in what you do and how you approach you life choices." Certainly a message that I can respect. If you ever get a chance to sit in on a future Jurek presentation, by all means take it.
See you on the roads, tracks and trails
The Muddy Buzzard