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Friday, May 7, 2010

Scott Jurek, Versailles

I woke up on a mission. My goal for the day was to get two tickets to see one of my favourite bands, Deftones, play an intimate gig in Paris next Monday. Simple it was not. I spent the guts of an hour refreshing pages and battling the thousands of others trying to pry their way into this one-off show. All the time I sat there I was thinking "this is not good, I should be out running". But no, here I was, a slave to the laptop, getting rejected every 10 seconds but still coming back for more. Officially 1hr 15mins after commencing I decided that defeat was something I just had to accept, the Deftones show would indeed go on regardless of whether I was there or not. Oh how I remember fondly 10-12 years ago when you had to stand outside the record store at 5 in the morning, braving the Irish climate, to get tickets. These days its all cyber queueing. What can you do? you just gotta go with the flow.

So, after my virtual fisticuffs with the ticket site I decided to check out Scott Jureks web page to see what the great man has been up to as of late. And there it was in all its glory, a Tweet saying he was leading a run through the grounds of Versailles Castle that very evening. Right on my doorstep you could say, well you could have knocked me over with a USB key. For the unacquainted allow me to shed some light on Scott's truly astounding achievements in the running world. Deep breath..... he has won, the Spartathlon 3 times and currently holds the second fastest time, the Badwater Ultramarathon twice and set the course record on his first attempt, the Wetsern States 100 seven consecutive times and the course record in 2004, the Hard Rock 100 in 2007 (a course with a total 0f 33,000 feet in elevation gain and the race he later told me was the hardest one he has ever done). Add these to the numerous other races and awards he has amassed and you can see why, after 17 years of competing, no one comes close to his crown. Yes there may be more well known or famous athletes out there but for sheer guts and determination he is hard to beat.

So all of a sudden the gig didn't seem so important as I was going running with Scott Jurek. I climbed onto my faithful steed at about six o clock and cycled the 4 km's to The Endurance Shop where the soiree was kicking off. On arrival I was greeted by the charismatic owner of Brooks France, Christophe Vatinel who had organised the event. Scott is a Brooks ambassador and is currently in France for the World 24Hr Championships in Brive next Thursday. The first thing Christophe did was give me a pair of Brooks shoes and ask me to wear them for the evening run. I was looking at him funny as it takes a lot for me to put my 1063's to one side in favour of something else but if you never try something new then whats the point! So with my new footwear on I must have been deemed fit to meet the great man himself as Scott popped his head round the corner and came over to introduce himself. I was impressed from the get-go, he radiated humility and and was such a great guy to make conversation with. As I was one of the first people to arrive I got spoiled in having him all to myself for a while and wasted no time bending the poor guys ear. Seriously, the guy was probably wondering where my off-switch was..... I explained my relatively new found passion for running and Pearl's situation. He was incredibly sympathetic too as he knows through friends the struggle Autism can present. I also had to pleasure to meet his girl friend Jenny who kindly took some pictures for me. After 45 minutes or so we had a nice little group and were ready to hit the road. The plan was to take in a scenic 10k around the grounds of the castle where I can usually be found during the week plodding along. Scott and Jenny had never been before so I was really excited for them given the opulence of the place.

(test driving the Brooks Cascadia, not bad at all)

(Scott and Jenny overlooking the lake and gardens)

The atmosphere was fantastic and a nice cool temperature of 15 degrees made the conditions just right. I met some new locals too and everyone talked amongst themselves trading war stories from past races or asking Scott questions. The awesome guys from Running Cafe were shooting videos and taking photos all the way and looking at the end result on their site I tip my had to a job well done. Bravo guys. I managed to chat to Scott quite a bit as we ran and was asking his advice on my 100k race. He is a big advocate of keeping a steady pace with no walking but also knows that everyone is different, so I should just try and find a steady rhythm and stick to it. I was also intrigued by the fact that he is vegan as there has always been a great debate in the running community as to whether a vegan diet get provides the essentials needed to sustain a healthy lifestyle whilst also running ultra endurance events. Speaking to Scott about this he told me that its never been an issue for him and with the range of foods available these days its never been a better time to be vegan. I'm not so sure it's for me though, I may have reluctantly traded in my trainers for the evening but taking away my meat??? Nah....

(the crew)

After our 1hr 20 min run it was all back to The Endurance Shop for some food (vegan) and drinks. The food was delicious and welcomed by all, it was an ideal way to wind down and replenish ourselves after a truly memorable evening. All good things must come to an end though and I took away a lifetime memory and some inspiration in a bottle. Scott is gracious and humble champion and just like any other runner I have ever met, easy going, relaxed and happy to be able to head out on a Thursday evening with some new friends to try to make sense of this sometimes crazy world. I for one am a much better person after our little run around Louis 14ths crib. I'll leave you with Scott's words to me yesterday evening.

"Run Long and Run Strong"



  1. A really cool story and lovely the way you told it. He sounds like a cool man. You are so lucky Malcolm

    from Marek.

  2. Nicely done. I feel like I was there. Thanks.


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Running for Pearl

This blog is dedicated to my daughter Pearl who was diagnosed with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) in August 2009. My goal is to raise funds and awareness by doing what I love....Running.