Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Eat and Run by Scott Jurek

Author:Scott Jurek [Jurek, Scott]
Language: eng
Format: epub, mobi
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Mike Sweeney passed me at mile 15, but I wasn’t worried. Even if he hadn’t been a head-smacking, ice helmet–wearing cliff diver, I wouldn’t have been worried. I was looking forward to the uphill at 40 miles—that’s when I would reel him in. That’s when I would claim the Badwater as mine.

A few miles later I dropped from second to fourth place. Ferg had passed me, and a guy I never heard of named Chris Bergland did, too. I felt as if I might puke. One of my crew members said to slow it down, to take it easy, but I was getting my ass kicked by a bunch of underdogs. I was hearing reports that Sweeney was ahead by 25 minutes.

It was the heat. My training runs had helped, but nothing could have helped me enough for this. Imagine a sun so pitiless that it seemed to want to personally torture you. Imagine that every time you inhaled, the air was so hot that it seared your already parched throat and stung your lungs. Now imagine that a tall, cool, iced bottle of water was waiting for you, along with an aquamarine swimming pool and giant puddles of shade under oversized umbrellas and that fans were wafting cool breezes your way as you lay down on crisp, chilly sheets. Now imagine that all that relief was only another 110 miles away, and you had to run there, through heat every bit as awful as what you had just endured—maybe worse.

I ran (mostly uphill) to the aid station at Stovepipe Wells, 20 miles away, where my crew had prepared the giant coffin cooler. Dusty was jumping up and down in the parking lot, barefoot, wearing a black down expedition jacket, shouting “Hot potato, hot potato!” He was doing it to amuse me, I’m sure, to take my mind off the difficulties ahead. If I hadn’t felt like my internal organs were liquefying, I might have chuckled.

I took off my sun pants and long-sleeved sun shirt—both specially designed by Brooks—and wriggled in. I thought I heard my crew discussing Sweeney’s lead, and I remember thinking that I should get out, that if sometimes you just do things, then that moment would be certainly be an auspicious time to start. My body thought otherwise. I don’t think I ever felt so good. Dusty suggested it was time to go, but I demurred.

When—finally—I climbed out, I wanted to immediately climb back in. After 2 miles, I told my crew I needed it again. Two more miles, one of them said, but they drove 3 miles. When I arrived, I told them I was ready, but again they said 2 more miles. And again they drove 3 miles. Rick Miller told me to stop thinking about the giant cooler, and he sprayed me down with the contraption I had bought at Home Depot.

There’s something profoundly lonely about any ultra, but the Badwater is the loneliest of all. Ancient sand dunes roll over the valley floor like waves.


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