Recently I made a kale chip sandwich (revelation!), kissed an American girl on a Hinge date which was "off the hinge”, joined a run group called run and chugs and read two books*: Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run and Born to Run by Christopher McDougall, in which Scott also shines/stars, on my recent travels. Firstly, both books are brilliant for anyone who runs (an oxymoron if you’ve read B2R) or anyone who doesn’t (everyone). Born To Run in particular was a born to be read (red) read (read), or more accurately listen, as I had the ebook, that i've ever had the privilege of not reading, as above.
B2R covers among other things: evolution/why the hell we run; advertising/marketing/con men/Nike, specifically the sell of something called “the running shoe”; my home country New Zealand, “the Kenya of it’s day” where the recreational running boom began with a boom under some dude of dude name Lydiard; how some Mexican tribe you’ve never herd of runs forever on strips of car tires, corn beer, chia seeds, “fisty-cuffs”, faith and faithlessness; Mexican drug lords/government; a Russian run god who gives away gold and doesn’t like to run baths but does like to run in them; and a band of runners put together by McDougall (B2B author and also my mums maiden name) who may not be musically gifted but are note worthy, lead by ultra-marathon man of a man Scotty J.
I was so ecstatic after listening to both books I decided on a pristine mattina (that’s Italian for morning) in Propriano, Italy to give some properiano/proper/ barefoot running a crack on my runner’s knee (a knee that I need to fix). I ran about 4km up the hill past some beach until my knee got a bit tofu/tender. I then turned around, took my shoes off and ran barefoot; tip toeing quite literally, around any potential travel insurance claiming pieces of shrapnel. I got home feet a touch sore but no pain in my knees or my back where I often get some pain from running, my sister and financial issues if you believe in chakras. I was hooked on the idea of going off road on no shoes and just following my heart/google maps with as much joy as a Labrador who just stole the Christmas turkey off the barbeque.
A couple of days later I was again barefoot and flying free, quite literally in the sky this time courtesy of my generous parents, to San Fran-tastico. In the days before my flight with the waxed hobbits (short, sweet, a bit gay) and Elvish Angels (the mostessseso of airhostesses) of the sky on the magical Air NZ airlines I had done some thorough research on how to make my own running sandals, how bad Badwater really was, and the man that was Scotty-J-comes-before-U-Jurek. To my surprise sandals looked easy enough to make, Badwater looked badass and about as appetising as jumping into a puddle of mud water in a white suit on prom night (Something you’d do after a few beers and that your mum wouldn’t approve of) and the Jurker was giving a free trail run and talk courtesy of the San Francisco Running Company!!!
What were the chances!? SJ in SF two days after I arrived!!! Probably quite high as that rhetoric implied. Luck have it, I have friends, and the friends who I were staying with in SF were both away when I arrived so I had no plans but I did have a fridge full of almond butter, their bikes at my disposal and an appetite to eat all their almond butter and some pavement/trails, not literally, although later that week I would eat both. So I got out Google and typed in the directions to the San Francisco Running Company to be in the good company of See-you-soon-Scotty and others at 247 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley, CA. It was going to be a gay old ride in the gay city Marvin Gay styles, over mountains high, valleys low, rivers/inlets wide, wrong entries to the freeway and a golden bridge under full moon light. It was also going to take me well over an hour if I knew where I was going, but I didn’t so it took longer. But I was willing to put in the miles to see the SJ smile.
So off I set for a 3 hours plus return trip plus a run in the middle, minus the feeling in my balls, on a free balling 6 speed for a run meet on a no meat diet, under a massive full moon, over a big bridge, under done on directions, over done on enthusiasm. And on I rode. And I took some pictures and snapchats on the way. And I listed to a Rich Roll podcast. And at many times did I think about sandwiches, because I was hungry, and at the idea of turning around, not because of the distance but because I was running, or more accurately cycling, late. Not because of ill planning like how I arrived at my Auckland flight at my arrival not departure time – thank you New Plymouth Airport man who let me do a Tarmac runner. But because I didn’t know where I was or where Google maps was taking me. However a night with Smooth-striding-Scotty in the hills under a full moon was too good of a carrot dangled off the top of my Ski helmet with big earflaps that I grabbed by accident and didn’t realise was a Ski helmet until a week later to give up on that easily.
From one mouthful to another, soon I had arrived a touch late but on time for the brief brief and more than a handful of delicious free chocolate Cliff bars. I knew as soon as I herd him say, “Hi I’m Scott Jurek” that it was Scott Jurek. He was more extraordinarily normal than I expected, also taller and with curlier hair and a more middle of the road physique for someone who’s no middle of the road roadrunner, beep beep (Disney reference and the sound cars horns make). But that was the attraction of the man, the kid who had faced adversity, a Jurker of a dad, athletes with more talent but less heart and now me and 40 other star/scotty struck runners, and done it all with a smile and big miles.
Soon the scene was set for a ready set go, as I grabbed one more cliff bar for the not-road and in the good company of the San Francisco Run Company we disappeared onto the trails and deep into the bush like a French 60’s male porn star. We ran and ran like a herd of deer, but with two legs instead of four and headlights for antlers and high viz for fur, so really nothing like deer, into the moonlight. And rhyming with deer, like the bike ride, I had no idea where I was going but I found comfort in knowing I was on the same path as greatness; the man himself, the smooth stride, the curls flowing, the smile glowing and the legend that was Scotty-J-for-genuine-Jurek. There he was right there on my left. I pulled up alongside him, told him my name, said I was from New Zealand, that I had flown all the way to not meet him but that I read his book on the way and was super stocked I could, and then I sped on by so others could have their Scotty J one-on-one time. At the top of the peak, literally and emotionally, I waited. Once we were together, the gentle gliding aint-no-jurk-Jurker announced he would run down with all those he didn’t get to run up with, what a guy! It was also announced there would be a longer run back that a few locals would take if anyone were interested; my ego was and put his hand up promptly. I was still running high on the hills and herophins (endorphins of meeting a hero) and decided a few extra moonlight miles wouldn't be a bad idea unlike the time I accidentally ate chocolate hash brownie before teaching a yoga class (for another post). However this soon turned into a where are we? double the distance, please don’t let me miss the talk and left over vegan cookie bars and hummus waiting at the finish line, “please not the hummus!” I hummed as we powered down the mountainside to make it back just in time to sit conveniently back row next to the snack table.
The San Fran-tastico Running Company owner then grabbed the metaphoric mic (I think his name was Mike, sorry Mike if it’s not Mike) and announced that Scott and our super special guest for the evening who I knew nothing about Krissy Mohl, who deserves her own blog post and equal adoration would be giving a running talk on preventing injuries. I almost forgot that Scotty-you-got-it-going-on-Jurek was a physio as well! The talk then ensued and I popped my carrot stick and hummus laden hand up, finished my mouthful and answer a question relating to my runners knee to nearly nail the answer and be given the benefit of the doubt and a free foam roller ball for my efforts. What a balling night this was turning out to be! The talk was great, super insightful and I’ll list all the advice below for you ranging from how to cope with plantar fasciitis to knee niggles to putting on a strap on in bed (not sexual) and fueling your runs on a plant based diet – Yes, believe it or not, SJ is a plant based/vegan super athlete, which is super awesome to see that you can shoot to the top on shoots and greens, that the cream that rises to the top can be dairy free cashew cream and that getting fruity can be fruitful in any discipline.
Following the talk I had to get some evidence of my UFO (Ultra-frigen-O-for-awesome) encounter with Scotty-the-triumphant-trail-tramping-Jurek and Krissy-wholly-Mohlly-you’re-good-for-a-girl-Mohl, to which they both politely obliged with well wishes and wishes of coming to NZ. Ohh what a night! What a very special time for me. As I remember what a night. Oh what a night. You know I didn’t even know her name, but it was Krissy Mohl. What a lady and what guy, what a night!
I #DOUGIT and if you ever get the chance to meet Scott or read his book I’m sure you will #DOUGIT too.
Note: The secret of Scotty’s success wasn't just his plant-powered fuel but like so many other great runners it was his compassion, empathy and happiness. He puts the fun in fun run. I DOUG everything Scott Jurek represents, said, and runs for or against. The man deserves any accolades that run his way. And this endurance of blog post is the least I can do to say thank you to one of the endurance champions of the world for inspiring a kiwi kid to take to the trails for the heaven of it.
Note 2: Thank you SJ, KM, SFRC for great company, a great run, a handful of hummus and a humbling experience! Once I take Scotts rehab advice and sort out my knee I will run an ultra awesome ultra all night dedicated to you guys.
Think Less, Experience More,
(Injury advice from the evening will be posted soon)