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Scott Jurek’s Epic Quest To Reclaim The Appalachian Trail FKT

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UPDATE: After just one week on the trail, Scott Jurek was forced to terminate his Appalachian Trail Fastest Known Time attempt. Read the full story here. 

Scott Jurek is back at it again on the Appalachian Trail. And the world is following along with him every step of the way.

After months of silence on social media, the American trail running legend from Boulder, Colorado, unveiled his summer plans for a record-setting run on the Appalachian Trail this week. As per AT tradition, he’s taken on a trail name — “Webwalker” — which was given to him by thru-hikers during his 2015 speed attempt.

As of late Tuesday, Jurek, 47, was already seven days and several hundred miles into a southbound trek on the trail, not far from the Maine-New Hampshire border. His goal is to complete the 2,193-mile trail from Mount Katahdin, Maine to Springer Mountain, Georgia, in 40 days or fewer. 

RELATED: Scott Jurek’s Cross-Training Secrets

That would not only lower his only personal record on the AT by six days, but it would also surpass Utah ultrarunner Karl Meltzer’s current supported Fastest Known Time of 45 days, 22 hours and 38 minutes set in 2016. Jurek set the northbound supported FKT (46 hours, 6 hours, 7 minutes) six years ago, but Belgian ultrarunner Karel Sabbe lowered it by five days (41 days, 7 hours, 39 minutes) with an amazing effort in 2018.

“I haven’t forgotten the suffering, but sometimes you have to go back to the hard places and do the hard things,” Jurek said via social media this week. “I still have so much to learn, and I still have more to give.”

 

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A post shared by SCOTT JUREK (@scottjurek)

RELATED: 2020 was the Year of the FKT

The Trail Community Responds

As would be expected, social media has lit up with support since the news broke.

“Have a great journey Scott!” fellow trail running legend Kilian Jornet posted in support of Jurek.

“Stoked for you bro! Have a good journey!” said Timothy Olson, fresh of a new FKT on the Pacific Crest Trail. “Let’s go Webwalker!!!”

“Beautiful vistas and nature! Enjoy!” offered up ultrarunner Harvey Lewis, fresh off his second victory in the Badwater Ultramarathon. “Go get it!”

Jurek started the journey on by hiking up Mt. Katahdin —  what the native people of the Penobscot Nation called “The Greatest Mountain” — on Aug. 4 with the support of his family, his wife, Jenny, daughter, Raven, and son, Evergreen, along with Meltzer and former U.S. Marine Scout Sniper and accomplished thru-hiker Tom Gathman.

Fans and fellow trail runners can follow his journey via Facebook, Instagram (hashtag #webwalkerAT21) and through the Somewear tracking app. (Jurek is wearing a Wahoo ELEMNT RIVAL GPS watch to and carrying a 4-ounce Somewear global hotspot device for real-time tracking and two-way messaging.) He’s also getting product and support from Brooks Running, Dave & Matt Vans, CLIF Bar and Gaia GPS, JUST Egg.

RELATED: WATCH: Losing Light: Joe McConaughy’s Long Trail FKT

 

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A post shared by SCOTT JUREK (@scottjurek)

Once A Runner

Jurek was a seven-time winner of the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run from 1999-2005 and has also recorded victories in the historic 153-mile Spartathlon in Greece and some of North America’s most grueling ultramarathons, including the Hardrock 100 and the Badwater 135-Mile Ultramarathon. He is The New York Times best-selling author of Eat and Run and North, which he co-authored with his wife, Jenny, about his record-breaking northbound run on the AT in 2015.

“When I was racing, I kept going back to the same races,” Jurek said. “Not to replicate the experience but to have a completely different perspective. I wanted to crack the code, to see if a new approach could extract more from me,” said Jurek. “Each race was not about the finish line, but more about working my way backwards to the start. Six years have passed since I set the record, and I feel like I left a lot of time on the table.” 

Making his highly anticipated return to the Appalachian Trail, Jurek will try to run an average of 54 miles per day, with significant elevation gains throughout the way. He’ll aim to complete the trail in mid-September. 

“He’s super inspiring, one of the all-time, bad-ass competitors in our sport,” said Michael Wardian, an accomplished ultrarunner with numerous FKTs who lives in Arlington, Virginia, about 60 miles from the nearest section of the AT. “It’s so cool that he’s going after the southbound FKT.”