From the monthly archives:

December 2011

Shoe smarts, from the man who doesn’t wear them

by Christopher on December 19, 2011

Last year, at our first Naked Tour event (Running: A Musical), I urged Barefoot Ted to perform a semi-magic trick by handcrafting a pair of Tarahumara huaraches while simultaneously condensing his entire quest for the perfect running shoe into 10 minutes. Ted, naturally, had ideas of his own, so his talk ventured into unexplored realms of monkey logic. But yesterday, he circled back and came out with exactly the story I was waiting for. It might be the smartest, best expressed analysis I’ve read about what’s gone wrong, and right, with running shoes.

UPDATE: Peter Sarsgaard, who’s co-writing and directing the “Born to Run” movie, is in Taiwan with Scott. He wrote this excellent pre-race summary: http://talk.brooksrunning.com/2011/12/09/scott-jurek-attempting-to-break-world-record/

Tonight at 8pm EST, Scott Jurek faces his most pitiless opponent:
The clock.
Timed races are among the most fiendishly difficult, because figuring out the pacing is a challenge only the most seasoned vets can master. The goal is to calculate the exact razor’s edge of speed you can maintain so you hit absolute breakdown at precisely 24 hours; not a minute sooner, not a minute later. Scott is a ferociously intelligent guy, so I suspect that kind of intense mental challenge is a primary reason he remains fascinated by ultrarunning. It also explains why he keeps changing up his game; as soon as he cracks the code for one kind of event, he’s off to the next. To me, he’s the rarest and most fascinating of athletes, because he doesn’t really care about winning; he cares about solving the crazy equation that has defied every other math genius. Once he conquered the mountains of the Western States 100, he was off to tackle Death Valley, then the Tarahumara, and even Pheidippides’ home course in Greece in the 152-mile Spartathlon.

Now, he’s going after the world record at the Soochow International Ultra-Marathon 24-Hour Track Invitational. Last year, he broke the American 24-hour record by logging 165.7 miles. He’ll have to add over 20 miles to beat the world mark set last year by Yiannis Kouros. Kouros was so shattered by the effort that he immediately announced he would never challenge the 24-hour record again.

From Scott’s facebook page:

Follow me LIVE from Taiwan starting Friday 12/9, 8pm EST, 5pm PST, as I attempt to run a bunch of miles (while trying to avoid getting dizzy!) in the Soochow International Ultra-Marathon 24-Hour Track Invitational. Don’t be afraid of the Mandarin, the distances should be clear. Also, you can follow my Twitter feed @ScottJurek for updates & photos. Twitter hashtag is #SIU24. You do not have to be on Twitter to access my Twitter feed: http://twitter.com/scottjurek