Reflections on Scott Jurek "Shattering" the Appalachian Trail Record

Scott Jurek running up Katahdin, nearing the summit. ~ Photo from Scott's Facebook page

Scott Jurek running up Katahdin, nearing the summit. ~ Photo from Scott's Facebook page

The euphoric highs are fading from those of us who followed Scott Jurek to the summit of Katahdin at 2 PM on Sunday, July 12, 2015, when he set the new fastest known time for thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Writers commenting on Scott the Ultrarunner's victory are reaching new levels of irrational exuberance. Many are writing that Scott "shattered" the previous record, set by Jennifer Pharr Davis in 2011.

As amazing as Scott is, was or ever might be ... he did not shatter Jennifer's record. He beat it.

And he hiked seven or eight miles more, as the AT grew in length since 2011. He won the race, if there was one.

I Hate Math But Let's Do It Anyway

The last I heard, there were 24 hours in each day. Scott ran for 46 days, so that's 1,104 hours. He then ran for eight hours more, for a total of 1,112 total hours. From one end of the Appalachian Trail to the other. Stunning, huh?

Scott kissed the sign atop the highest peak in Maine three hours faster than Jennifer's time in 2011. To figure out how many percent faster Scott ran than Jennifer walked, we divide 3 (hours) by 1,112 (hours). I think.

The answer is .0027%. Scott's time (correct me if I am wrong, Math Majors) was 27-thousands of a percent quicker than Jennifer's.

Doesn't mean Scott didn't win. It does mean he didn't come anywhere near "shattering" anything but his body trying to run the length of the Appalachian Trail.

Full Disclosure

I have two adult daughters who could be anything they want to be. I have two young granddaughters who can be anything they want to be. Girls rule ... at least as well as my fellow men.

To me, the body-crunching sacrifices that Scott and his team endured and overcame by running the whole dang Appalachian Trail could hardly be overestimated. Scott ran all day ... and many nights ... to earn his place in AT history. No doubt. No exceptions.

Jennifer Pharr Davis earned the previous honor by getting up early each day, walking all day and into the evening, and getting up to do it all over again the next day. Jennifer's endurance and her amazing team, including her husband Brew, earned their place in history too.

The dad and grampa in me prefer Jenn's accomplishment. My professional writer side is still celebrating for Scott and his team.

Two separate victories. Two separate people. Two separate teams. Both exemplify what it takes to endure the Trail -- at any speed.

Pardon me for forgetting the source of this quote, but a fellow on Scott's team said something like, "The Trail kicked our butts all the way."

The Trail does that. Starting with the insane stairs to the Approach Trail to Springer, or the insane climb to the top of Katahdin to begin a southbound hike.

Our pal, Jennifer Pharr David, in 2011.

Our pal, Jennifer Pharr David, in 2011.

Hike your own hike. Go at your own pace. Don't freak out if somebody hikes it differently or if someone tells you to hike differently.

There's room for us all on the Appalachian Trail.

There's room for both Jennifer's record and for Scott's record too.

In my mind and heart, Scott did not break or shatter Jennifer's record. He simply set a new mark. One that young Trail Slingers are strapping on their packs to beat as you read this.

Cheers to the spouses of our heroes of the Trail: Brew and Jenny. You're the ones I want to thank.

I loved what Jennifer says about all this. Read it here.

Hit the Trail and hike it any way you'd like, even you're only a legend in your mind and mine.

Click Here for Scott Jurek's Trek

Tags: Attractions, Appalachian Trail, Hiking, News, Robert Sutherland Travel Writer, and Hikers

About the Author Robert Sutherland:
Robert Sutherland is a travel writer enjoying life. Robert has two adult daughters and six grandchildren.
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Jamie W on Jul 16, 2015
Comparisons are inevitable, but are typically brought up by those quick to defend rather than recognize. All respect to JPD, but the record is no longer hers, no matter the gender, pace, year, or mileage. Her time to be recognized was hers alone, as now should be Scott's.