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I am a Bicolano by birth and choice. By any standards, I am a slow runner but I like it that way. I look at running as a healthy and exciting way to make a difference. Together with my fellow runners from our family, school, office and the community, we use running to give back..

January 16, 2015

SCOTT JUREK: A Rock Star In Our Midst

Penguins graphicsLast December, for a couple of days, the Philippine long distance running community was enthralled by a rock star in our midst. 

No we are not talking about Red Hot Chilli Pepper’s bassist Flea or Death Cab for Cutie’s Ben Gibbard or Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready. Although these three can be presumed to be fans of the star we are referring to.

The center of attention  was none other than ultra marathoner par excellence Scott Jurek. He was here in the country to primarily conduct a couple of talks in Manila (Dec 10) and Cebu (Dec 12). The event called “Scott Jurek Live:  Eat and Run in the Philippines” was organized by Frontrunner Magazine.

The attention he got from our local ultra marathoners was awesome.  We had the usually unflappable Running Diva so excited to attend the talks that she forgot the dates and just to be sure came to the venue on two separate dates.  There was also the Frontrunner head macho man , Jonel Mendoza, waxing poetic and feeling like a teen age girl with a big crush, as he introduced Scott to the crowd as the "Michael Jordan of Ultra Running.”

Frontrunner's Jonel Mendoza introducing his newfound "cousin-in-law".
To understand why ultra runners all over the world have such high regard for Jurek perhaps it is best for me to share a few paragraphs from my all-time favourite running book “BORN TO RUN” by Christopher McDougall where the author expounded on why the legendary, almost mythical, Caballo  choosed Jurek to be the one to run with  the Tarahumara Indians in the “Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen.”

“Seven-time Western States champ and three-peat Ultrarunner of the Year Scott Jurek?  Caballo had to be high out of his skull if he thought Scott Jurek was coming down here (to Copper Canyon) to race a bunch of nobodies in the middle of nowehere. Scott was the top ultrarunner in the country, maybe in the world, arguably of all time.  When Scott wasn’t racing, he was helping Brooks design their signature trail shoe, the Cascadia, or setting up sold-out running camps, or making decisions about what high-profile event he’d run next in Japan, Switzerland, Greece or France.

But somewhere, Caballo had read an interview with Jurek and felt an instant thrum of brotherhood. In his own way, Scott was nearly as mysterious as Caballo. While far lesser ultra stars like Dean Karnazes and Pam Reed were touting themselves on TV, writing self-glorifying memoirs, and (in Dean’s case) promoting a sports drink by running bare-chested on a sky-cammed treadmill over Times Square, the greatest American ultrarunner of them all was virtually invisible. He seemed to be a pure racing animal, which explained two of his peculiar habits:  at the start of every race, he’d let out a bloodcurdling shriek, and after he won, he’d roll in the dirt like a hyperactive hound. Then he’d get up, brush himself off, and vanish back to Seattle until it was time for his war cry to echo through the dark again.

Now that was the kind of champion Caballo was looking for; not some showboat who’d use the Tarahumara to boost his own brand, but a true student of the sports who appreciated the artistry and effort in even the slowest runner’s performance.”

A true student of running.  That was how I felt about Scott when he conducted his talk to the Manila crowd in ADB last Dec 10. He was generous in sharing his knowledge and kept on encouraging the audience to ask questions.

Scott Jurek was organized in his presentation. 

Scott is a good speaker. In high school, he was the class valedictorian.

Some engaging Q&A.

Running Diva was a raffle winner.

Lucky winner of a new pair of Brooks running shoes

 Pinoy ultra runner's fondest dream:  Scott Jurek joining the H1. Will this happen?

His genuine character of goodness was evident also when he conducted a book signing and photo taking sessions with those present.  He was  patient and generous. Never did I detect some impatience as he signed for more than three hours.     

Local runners waited patiently in the long line for autographs. 

Had my book "EAT & RUN" autographed.  

This signed card is a bonus for me. It will be framed soon. 

With Scott Jurek's wife Jenny.  Her mother is a Filipina from Ilocos Sur.
Thank you very much to Jonel and his Frontrunner team  for bringing  a genuine running star to our shores. Perhaps some of the brilliance will rub off not just on our running but also in our otherwise boring lives.


For more on Scott Jurek, the BP suggests get the latest copy of the Frontrunner Magazine.  I know I will.  

Penguins graphics

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