Just out this month, Scott Jurek’s new book is a riveting account of his record-setting run in 2015 of the 2189-mile Appalachian Trail in 46 days, 8 hours, and 7 minutes. We tracked down the book’s editor at Little, Brown—Tracy Behar—and she generously shared a few thoughts about working on the project.
Are you a runner or ultrarunner? I’m a runner, yes, but now pretty much only a weekend runner. My feet can’t handle it anymore.
How did this project land on your desk? I’d met Scott when he was selling Eat and Run, and although I hadn’t been able to acquire it, I’d never forgotten that meeting. So when this one came along, from a different agent, I jumped on it.
What was it about meeting Scott that was unforgettable? I felt such an instant connection with him, but I’ve since learned that almost everyone feels the same! Scott is honestly one of the warmest, most grounded, most charismatic human beings I’ve ever met. I knew that he had a lot of fans, but until I attended one of his events, I hadn’t realized just how much people genuinely LOVE him. He makes everyone he meets feel special—that is his gift.
I am sure you have many favorite moments in Scott’s account but what is one that stands out for you? So many moments in the book stand out for me. Scott (“Jurker”) and his wife Jenny (“jLu”) alternate sections in the book, so we get a view of the kind of support it took to get Scott through the run as well as a portrait of a marriage. Don’t tell Scott but some of Jenny’s sections are my favorite—she’s so tough on him, in the most loving way, but she’s also hilarious. He wanted to give up so many times. On day 42, five days from the end, exhausted and broken he decides the math doesn’t work; he won’t make the FKT [trail-runner talk for Fastest Known Time]. He’s going to “leisurely hike through the rest of the Maine Woods.” Jenny: “I was in shock. What the hell was my crazy, blurry-eyed, scrawny-ass, shaky-handed husband talking about? It’s over? And now we were gonna walk it in? Oh hell no.” That’s Jenny for you. There’s no question he couldn’t have done it without her.
In this story of a truly superhuman athletic effort, with so many ups and downs (literal and otherwise) what is one moment where you thought, If that happened to me I would have quit right there? I would have given up on day 5, when Scott suffered a knee injury! Followed by day 6: torn quad. Somehow Scott managed to push through both injuries right at the beginning of the run. His training as a physical therapist helped here, but he’s definitely superhuman.