Review: Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run and #20BooksOfSummer

I’ve succumbed to #20BooksOfSummer, more on that later, and the first is Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run which Liz posted to me after she read it. Is there any better kind of friend than the fellow bookworm?

Never say never and all that, but there are two things in life I probably will never do: go vegan or run 100 miles in one day.  (For scale, I just crossed the 300 mile mark for miles, in 2018!) I absolutely never would run an ultra on a sprained or broken ankle, which he did at least twice. That said, Jurek made both seem very interesting. Much like Dean Karnazes’ escapades, I devoured this book and likely would have finished it even sooner given more reading time. In another similarity to Karno’s books, both men have great sidekicks in their crews: I see a lot of Dean’s Topher in Jurek’s Dusty, his former competition turned pacer. If you’re going to do insane things, you might as well have excellent company in doing so.

Eat & Run is part memoir, part recipe book and part look at the insane world of ultrarunning. Jurek transformed from a poor “Minnesota redneck” into a vegan ultrarunner under an oft-repeated quote from his father: sometimes you just do things. I wondered before reading this if Jurek was a child of hippies, hence the veganism, but no he grew up catching & eating his own fish in Proctor, a small town near Duluth. A hand-me-down set of skis lead to his discovering his talents as a Nordic skier and his running career came from a place of cross training for skiing. Even once he left his childhood home, rocky relationship with his father and small Minnesota town, it wasn’t a smooth path as he & his then-wife Leah faced significant debt due to his travel costs. At one point he even made his own gels due to losing a sponsor (wonder if that was before or after he criticized Dean K in part due to his sponsorships?) and camped at the finish line of Western States as he couldn’t afford a hotel.

Christopher McDougall’s Born to Run makes an appearance in this book as Jurek joined him to race the Tarahumara on their own turf after handily beating them in the Angeles Crest race. I really need to read that book. I think what made this such a compelling read is that Jurek didn’t use it to proselytize veganism. He explains why it works for him and the benefits he attributes to it without going over the top. This was somewhat how he weaved in the story of the Tarahumara and their efficiencies in running and living. As someone who has seen improved blood work in the time I’ve been running, I found myself wondering at several points whether the improvements he saw were related to veganism or simply the insane amount of mileage he ran regularly.

I really enjoyed this book and look forward to reading his newest, North, when I have a chance.

Other reviews:

  • Neel at Blog on Passionate Running
  • Wendy at Taking the Long Way Home, a wonderful running book club

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I’ve read about this challenge on Liz’s blog over the last few years and her introductory post this year finally made me realize how wonderful & freeing this challenge is. 746 Books is the host, and there’s a linkup there. I’m really bad about reading books I’m “supposed to”, so we’ll see how this goes. I’ll link here when I review them, and I’m using the hashtag as a Goodreads shelf. In no particular order other than the first

  1. Scott Jurek – Eat & Run
  2. Joe Biden – Promise Me Dad
  3. Chris Jones –Rise Up!: Broadway and American Society
  4. Bart Yasso – My Life on the Run, June 16-17
  5. Amby Burfoot – Run Forever
  6. Kevin Boyle – Braving the Waves, June 8-9
  7. Rick Steves – Travel as a Political Act
  8. Nobu Matsuhisa – Nobu: A Memoir
  9. Craig Childs – House of Rain
  10. Mike Pesca – Upon Further Review
  11. Terry Waite – Solitude
  12. Chas Newkey-Burden – Running: Cheaper Than Therapy
  13. Mirna Valerio – A Beautiful Work in Progress
  14. William Atkins – The Immeasureable World
  15. Michael Lombardi – Gridiron Genius
  16. Alyssa Mastromonaco – Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?
  17. Daniel Silva – The Other Woman
  18. AJ Mass – Yes It’s Hot in Here
  19. Melissa Milgrom – Still Life
  20. Adharanand Finn – The Way of the Runner

Alternates

  • Will Gompertz – What Are You Looking At?
  • Don Thompson -The Supermodel and the Brillo Box
  • Sarai Walker – Dietland
  • Scott Sherman – Patience & Fortitude
  • Camryn Manheim – Wake Up, I’m Fat
  • Kati Stevens – Fake
  • Andrew Bomback –Doctor

This encompasses some, but not all of the NetGalley titles I have, and is a mix of print & ebooks as I’ve most definitely failed BookCrossing lately. Time for some of these books to move while I’m occasionally carrying a beach tote. Alas, I just got a $47 Amazon gift card from a class action so it’s likely Mt. TBR is going up and not down. I’m making progress with #BeatTheBacklist, I swear! I’ve actually read 49 books so far on the year and am ahead of pace for my 2018 goal.

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