I started the book “North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail” knowing what would happen at the end. But what led up to that on Scott Jurek’s trek to break the Fastest Known Time record for the Appalachian Trail was interesting to read about.
I got this book as a Secret Santa gift last year and actually finished it a while ago. In the book, Scott Jurek writes about his trip north, and in the second part of each chapter, his wife, Jenny, shares her perspective. Although Scott was the one attempting the record on foot, Jenny had the important and seemingly stressful job of making sure she met him at the right times in their vehicle, Castle Black, had what he needed and supported him. They also ran together at times and crossed each state line together, which I think is pretty cool.
Along the way, readers meet other people who ran with Scott and helped him on his 2,189-mile journey, both friends who came out for the experience and strangers he met along the route. He had less than 47 days to complete this feat, and he cut it close.
To put that distance in perspective for non-runners, I think I run a decent amount, and for my highest year ever — this year — I’ll come in at just under 1,500 miles. That’s still about 700 miles behind the length of the Appalachian Trail — and that’s in 365 days. Plus, the trail is full of mountain climbs and tough terrain.
It’s certainly not an easy journey for Scott — or Jenny. To name one challenge, he was injured pretty early on. While of course it would be tough to give up, I also think it would be terrible — mentally and physically — to have that happen so early.
Even if nothing had gone wrong — and when you’re running that much, things are bound to come up — that’s still a lot of time in your own head and wear and tear on your body.
In this book and in other news stories, I’ve also heard about dangerous or at least sketchy people along the trail. (To be fair, the worst of these cases make the news because they are rare – and it’s always a good idea to take precautions in unfamiliar or remote areas, or anytime.)
Of course, there are plenty of people who are out there on their own adventures, enjoying the outdoors and challenging themselves.
Not everyone was in support of Scott’s journey, because his goal was to make it through faster than the record at the time, so he wasn’t savoring the trail in the way that other hikers did. However, he also had fans who found him as he traveled north.
The book includes some maps and is broken into sections — Deep South, Virginia, Mid-Atlantic, New England and Maine — plus a prologue and epilogue.
Although I live in one of the states that the Appalachian Trail goes through — Maryland — I live on the other side of the state and I am not intimately familiar with the trail. I ran Freedom’s Run last fall and I believe I was on the Appalachian Trail very briefly on the course when I crossed from West Virginia into Maryland.
Although I don’t plan to ever do a thru-hike of the entire trail, I do think it would be cool to explore parts of the trail, preferably with at least one other person or a group.
Having the points of view of both Scott and Jenny is interesting, because although they were on the journey together, they experienced it differently.
Experience the 2,189 miles in just under 300 pages — enjoy the journey!