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Bryon Powell and Meghan M. Hicks Friday, 18 November 2011 11:05 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Mile-High Motivation - Page 4

"It's not logical to run in the San Juan Mountains, but seeing Hardrock showed me it is possible," he says. "It was just awesome to look at a mountaintop 4000 feet above, and then actually run to the top of it." Jones ran his first ultra four months later.

Displaying wisdom beyond his 20 years, he reflects, "I don't expect to compete in ultras the rest of my life. Without question, I will always be a trail runner. How long will I choose to compete at a high level with everyone? I don't know, but it's not going to be forever. There'll come a time when I've done everything I wanted to do in the sport and won't need to compete anymore. I'll be ready to move on to the next challenge."

This summer, Jones hopes to take on the "other worldly challenges" of Hardrock and the Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Hardrock's equally mountainous, if lower-elevation European cousin.

Jones's Running Metaphors for Life

  • In trail running: "You're always moving forward, and you're rarely stopping. That's a really good way to live life in general. If you're ever stagnant or looking backward, you're not going to accomplish anything."
  • With ultrarunning: "It really is about a steady pace. You're not sprinting ahead and then pausing for a long time like in track. That's also a good way to move forward in life."

Scott Jurek's Transcendence

Last spring, at the 2010 IAU 24-Hour World Championships in Brive, France, Scott Jurek set a new American record for distance run on the road in a 24-hour period: 165.7 miles.

A photo on Jurek's blog records the final seconds of those 24 hours. Tall, lean and clad in a mostly blue Team USA uniform and a bright pair of Brooks Green Silence shoes, Jurek's body shows signs of physical extension via an awkward forward lean. His peaceful facial expression imparts another story, however. Of the moment, says Jurek, "A lot of things were going on with my body and not all of them were comfortable or pleasant. But I felt an inner calm."

Jurek says that it's easy to "get stuck in the mental noise" of the physical discomfort that sometimes parallels trail running. At the 1994 Minnesota Voyager 50, his first ultradistance race, Jurek experienced, for the first time, the sometimes uncomfortable nature of trail running. Immediately after finishing the race, discouraged by pain, Jurek thought he'd never run a long-distance race again.

Like so many other runners, he changed his mind in the days following the race. Over the intervening 17 years, Jurek has developed some great coping mechanisms. Jurek says he moves past the mental noise by "letting out the fear, pain and self-doubt, just letting those things happen. This is what lets us break through to the other side." He calls this transcendence, wherein he moves through running's physical and emotional challenges and into new achievements.

While it can be hard to reach, this other side is no longer unfamiliar territory for Jurek. He has used transcendence to win some of the world's hardest and most competitive races. He is a seven-time winner of the Western States 100, three-time winner of Greece's Spartathalon, two-time winner of the Badwater Ultramarathon and winner of the Hardrock 100. At the 2005 Badwater Ultramarathon, Jurek experienced a particular metamorphosis when he resurrected from physical ailments at mile 70 to win and set a new course record.


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