Wisdom from the Ultra/Barefoot World:Chris McDougall/Scott Jurek/Peter Saarsgard/Steve Friedman

This was the event:

JackRabbit Presents
The Eat & Run Experience with Scott Jurek

International Launch of Scott’s memoir
“Eat & Run”

With special guests
Christopher McDougall
Peter Sarsgaard
Steve Friedman

Tuesday June 5th
The New York Society for Ethical Culture

Fun Run 6:30pm
Event Starts 8:00pm

Scott Jurek is a world renowned ultramarathon champion, who has won the Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run an unprecedented seven consecutive times, the 135 mile Badwater Ultramarathon in Death Valley, the Hardrock Hundred Miler in Colorado, and the 153 mile Spartathlon in Greece.

Scott powers his body on a plant based diet and is a passionate cook, physical therapist and running coach.  He came to prominence outside the ultra world through Chris McDougall’s New York Times Bestseller “Born to Run”, and he has also been featured by CNN, EPSN Magazine, Outside, Men’s Journal, Runner’s World, Yoga Journal, Veg News and many other media.

Join Scott, Chris, and other guests to celebrate the release of Scott’s new memior, “Eat & Run.”  Scott and guests will lead a free fun run in Central Park at 6:30 before the event!  Meet at the Columbus Circle entrance to the park.  The run ends around 7:30 at the NY Society for Ethical Culture, where the event will be held. If you want to meet Scott, Chris, Steve, or any of the other presenters, they will be available at the end of the evening.

I went there as a Volunteer so I had to arrive at 5 pm, get a little introduction and soon we were ready to help. My job, armed with my iphone, was to scan the QR codes in attendees’ confirmation emails to check them in, give them a wristband depending on what section of the auditorium they had selected, and let them in. Some people came in early to leave their stuff there before the run, and some other came later, sweat-free, to hear the talk.

In between setting up I saw Scott, as cute and sweet as ever, and said hello. I’ve met him a million times and even hung out with him, but I never expect him to remember faces, of course. Last time I saw him was a month ago at the REI event and we talked for a little bit after about my biomechanics coach and stuff (post and slides from his last talk are here). 

Then I turned around and I see Chris McDougall, who I’ve met twice and emailed back and forth a few times (as he wanted me to coach his publisher). We met last year, around this time, when he was doing a book talk/run and he told everyone in the room to come see me if they had any injuries, issues, questions…  and then around September for the Barefoot Weekend Festival. It’s been a while. But I went up to him, and said “Chris, do you remember me?”. He did this focus thing, like he was zooming in and out and he screams Elizabeeeeeth!!!!! I was in total shock! Once thing is to place someone, or remember something, but face AND name?? Too much. And he’s tall, and loud (and wearing the same luna sandals I have!)! Everyone heard it and turned out. Luckily, I am short… hehehehe!

Soon they went for their run, but it was fine, I was not jealous at all. Ehem. Well, I had done a little tempo (thanks M for pushing me, otherwise you know it would not have happened!), so I was tired enough.

We put some samples out, organized the game plan and then waited for the runners to come back, while we checked in more people. I also got to chat with Jenny (Scott’s girlfriend, she’s SO sweet!) a bit, see Kelly Ripa and her hubby and her kids go by and say hello to EVERYONE (her hub is HAWT!), and talk to a few of the expo vendors there…

At around 8, it all got quiet and we finally sat down to hear the panel talk. Awwww, seats, long day…
It was quite interesting as I think at this point I’ve heard Scott and Chris talk about pretty much all their stuff. Scott usually talks about nutrition, running ultras, training for ultras, fueling during ultras, the Born to Run stories, his favorite races… Chris usually talks about the book, the tarahumaras, Caballo, biomechanics, the science in the book, all that stuff. And since the book has been out for a few years now they’ve kept changing the talks up, or we would have been a bit bored… This time around, big event, we had an MC, and for the life of me I can’t remember his name, but he was funny.   

Chris then takes over and talks and has questions. Peter Saarsgard (actor, barefoot runner, producer of the Born To Run movie) and Steve Friedman (co author of Scott’s Eat & Run) were the other two in the panel. 

Chris took the microphone and talked about how everyone in the panel, minus Steve, saw running as something that changed their lives. It is a fine art form, and not just a “pizza punisher”!

Then Scott read from the book. I was soon transported to this night, in the middle of nowhere, where Scott was wondering, during an ultra of course, what was he doing all this for. And he had the stars as witnessess, what if he dropped, they’d know, they’s talk about him, and he realized the stars were not gossiping about him and that this was all for himself… and I wanted him to keep reading!!!!! Agh, will have to get that book, even though I “might” not really read the “eat” part… For Scott it was about figuring out why he keeps going, when it gets tough, when he wants to stop, in a sport that is very self-selecting.

Scott honed in on how running, and mostly ultra running, is not about the rewards, the money, the recognition, it’s about theexploration, the self-discovery.
Peter talked about how for the longest time he was a drinker, a smoker, and all of it, but one day, and all of sudden he quit it all, at the same time, because he figured it’d be easier the more he confused his body… He had just run with them all around Manhattan that morning, in sandals, an ultra distance without ever before going even the marathon distance… Craziness. He also talked about how he just bought Born To Run in an airport and couldn’t put it down until he finished it, and he decided right that moment that it would make a great movie (can’t wait for that!!!).
Steve was praised very highly by Chris as an amazing writer, and to check our Steve’s Lost on Treasure Island”… Steve was the writer for the RW article (and cover story) on Scott called King of Pain. Remember it? Dark! I surely do! It was such an unconventional read (for a RW article!). Steve said we was mostly interested in investigating the “obscure” side of why Scott was submitting himself to these crazy quests, that looked like punishment to him. 
They then opened up for questions, and usual came up. To Scott “how do you avoid injury?”. He’s a physical therapist by profession too, so this might be something he knows a LOT about too. He said strenghtening and stretching, and definitely technique. He zoomed in to nail in “Strenghtening and Technique”, though I particularly think that both can be worked out at the same time.
It was a lovely night, and an insteresting talk, and inspiring in the sense that we all want to find out what we are made of and ready to get out there to see what happens in our heads when we find ourselves.
Like three of them on the stage, most of us have all surrendered to this similar personal quest, and listening to other runners’ stories really does put it all in perspective, while also validate our own personal search.
Ages, years ago, our ancestors had to fight wars to prove they had the moral fiber of great men. They had to endure a lot of different challenges through different times. Most of us grew up listening to those stories. And we thought, what would I do? Could I ever survive that? Will I ever know what I am made of? I am tied to a modern life full of comfort and little annoyances, with no glory or holy grails of my own to chase, to make us who we long to be... And day after day we sit in front of computers at work, or let the days slip by doing things that leave us nothing, or worse: empty.
And Running…
Running might just be that one thing our internal animal is hungry for. It might just be the one thing in our lives that puts us out there, every morning, every race day, to show our commitment, our dedication, our silent and medal-less strenght, our unbending spirit to fight and to continue; to not be afraid to see what we are made of. And to learn how to live with it what we find.

Wisdom from the Ultra/Barefoot World:Chris McDougall/Scott Jurek/Peter Saarsgard/Steve Friedman

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