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Ultramarathoner Hikes Appalachian Trail In Record Time


We are about to hear from a record-breaker. Scott Jurek's record time was 46 days, eight hours and seven minutes. That's how long it took the ultra-marathoner to hike the 2,189 miles of the Appalachian Trail, which passes through 14 states.

Scott Jurek, welcome to the program and congratulations.

SCOTT JUREK: Well, thank you very much. It's a pleasure to be here.

SIEGEL: It takes the average hiker between five and seven months to complete the entire trail. Actually, the average hiker drops out and doesn't complete the trail. How fast were you moving during those 46 days?

JUREK: Well, a lot of the time, I was moving between three and four miles an hour. And I was doing a combination of running and hiking. I mean, the trail becomes so steep and so technical at times that walking and hiking is really the most efficient way to travel.

SIEGEL: How did you eat and sleep during all that time?

JUREK: Well, eating is something that you become accustomed to doing while on the move. I'm eating every 20 to 30 minutes, trying to consume around 100 calories each of those times. And really, it's a mix of sports foods along with real food.

SIEGEL: How did you sleep?

JUREK: Sleeping was quite interesting. There were times when I got, you know, five, six hours of sleep, and, you know, six hours was excellent. Like, for me that felt like a, you know, and 8, 9-hour night if I was, you know, in normal life. As I went on, the trail and the terrain became more difficult as long as I, you know, as well as I was trying to put in 59 and 58-mile days. Those nights I was getting, you know, maybe four to five hours of sleep. And then as I approached the end of the route, I was putting in, you know, some nights only an hour on, you know, at times when I met my crew and then a half hour out on the trail and just sleeping on a sleeping pad with a bug net over me.

SIEGEL: Now, you just wrapped up this - on Sunday. So over the previous 46 days, throughout the entire month of June and then some, you must have had quite a bit of rain at various times on the trail, no?

JUREK: Definitely. I mean, weather is a huge component of doing something like this. I had pretty severe thunderstorms all throughout the South. The heat poured on in Virginia - record temperatures much earlier than they typically experience. Then later on in Vermont, saw some of the wettest, you know, June rainfalls they've ever seen in over 130 years. And of course, then in the White Mountains, I got a little gift and had beautiful sunshine. And so you just never know what the trail and what the weather's going to throw at you. And that's what I love about this type of adventure. It's really experiencing things and having to deal with adversity and, you know, events that you never anticipated.

SIEGEL: Well, I guess I've left the most important question for last. Why? Why did you do this?

JUREK: I think the biggest reason for me after all these years of running ultra-marathons and testing my body was really to, you know, find a new level of adventure. And, you know, for me, challenging myself with this type of endeavor, it brings the best out in me because even at the darkest, deepest moments when I feel like I can't go on, when I feel like there's no chance I could break the record or much less, you know, finish the trail, somehow I find that strength inside of me. And that to me is really - you know, the whole reason I do these things is to find that inner strength when I least expected I had it.

SIEGEL: Well, Scott Jurek, thanks for talking with us about your record-breaking 46-day, eight-hour, seven-minute run-hike on the Appalachian Trail.

JUREK: Well, thank you very much, it was a pleasure. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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