Rising Star


Scott Jurek and Tonto take a rest on Little Mount SI, Washington.

AGE: 28
HEIGHT: 6'2"

SEEN NEXT: On June 29 in California's Sierra Nevada, he'll go for his fourth straight win at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run, a 17-hour slog—with more than 18,000 feet of elevation gain—from Squaw Valley to Auburn, California.

YOUTH MOVEMENT: Jurek reigns in a sport traditionally dominated by racers in their late thirties and early forties who've spent decades mastering not just the physical demands of endurance running, but also the Zen-like cultivation of patience, perseverance, and discipline.

THE ANTI-ZONE DIET: A strict vegan, Jurek spends up to two hours a day (when not working as a physical therapist) grinding whole-wheat flour and juicing vegetables for meals. On the trail, he scarfs down adzuki-bean-and-quinoa spread on pita bread.
TRAINING PARTNER: Tonto, a nine-year-old Alaskan husky, accompanies Jurek on 30- to 45-mile runs during peak training. "He doesn't quite understand why someone would run up the same hill more than once," Jurek says. "After the second time, he's done."

SECRET WEAPON: Jurek hasn't cut his shoulder-length mop since the night before his first Western States win, in 1999, when his wife, Leah, gave him a buzz cut. "But it's not a Samson thing," he insists.

THE THRILL OF VICTORY: After crossing the finish line in 2001, Jurek lay down and logrolled three times, one for each Western States win. This year? "I don't know," he says. "I have 100 miles to come up with something."

SECOND OPINION: "What's great about Scott is that he's drawing more young runners to the sport," says Tim Twietmeyer, 43, the only other male to three-peat the WS100. "I could live without his rolling in the dirt across the finish line, though. It only validates the perception that ultrarunners are a bunch of nuts."

From Outside Magazine, Jun 2002
Lead Photo: Brian Smale
More Adventure