What’s Behind Ultra Addiction?

  • By Duncan Larkin
  • Published May. 31, 2013
  • Updated May. 31, 2013 at 10:17 AM UTC
Scott Jurek has set the bar for pain tolerance. Photo: Getty Images

One author seeks to answer that question by hanging out with Scott Jurek.

Slate magazine’s Lisa Palmer has recently penned a long article about the driving force behind extreme runners.

She uses American ultra-running legend Scott Jurek as an example of someone who is apparently addicted to suffering. After all, Jurek once ran 165 miles in 24 hours on a one-mile oval, setting the American record at the time.

“Why is Jurek comfortable with being so uncomfortable?” Palmer asks. “Is he crazy? Or is he superhuman?”

The answers may lie in Jurek’s upbringing, which entailed rigorous chores to support his mother who suffered from multiple sclerosis.
Jurek used running to escape and to combat the stress that he encountered at home.
Palmer went for a run with Jurek to get to know him better.
“His left foot juts out when he runs,” she observed. “He’s exceptionally outgoing and friendly. He even wears the same off-the-shelf running shoes I do.”
“I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I tackle tough situations,” Jurek said.

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Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin

Duncan Larkin is the news editor at and a freelance journalist who’s been covering the sport of running for over five years. He’s run 2:32 in the marathon and won the Himalayan 100-Mile Stage Race in 2007. His first running book, RUN SIMPLE, was released last July.

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