"Eat and run", a memoir by ultrarunner Scott Jurek, is by no means a literary masterpiece. Jurek is a lot of things (physiotherapist, winner of many prestigious ultramarathon races around the world, cook, vegan) but he is no high-brow writer. Yet I devoured his book as if it were one of his delicious-sounding vegan meals.
Jurek tells the story of how he became a great ultrarunner. He speaks of the building blocks that made him who he is -his parents, friends, coaches- with warmth and humour. He speaks of the trials he went through, the slow deterioration of his mother's health, his falling out with his strict father, his divorce. And then he speaks of how changing his diet was the catalyst for reaching the top of the ultrarunning mountain.
It is hard to review an autobiographical book without judging the person writing it. Jurek comes across as a loving yet competitive, spiritual yet down-to-earth, fragile yet strong individual. He tells his story in a tone that suggests that he might as well be sitting next to you over a couple of beers; friendly, relaxed, personal. The format he follows to tell this story is also one that reminds of the above scenario: loosely connected episodes, bits of his life that, put together, give us a better understanding of who Scott Jurek is.
The book is, of course, not called just ”Run”, but ”Eat and run”. Jurek started out hunting and cooking his own food as a child, but ended up becoming a vegan through fine-tuning his diet. A vegan athlete is no common occurrence, especially when it comes to elite level, and Jurek explains how it worked for him. At the end of each chapter he shares one of his recipes.
My feet were itching to hit the trail by the end of the book. My stomach was sending me signals that it wanted to try the hummus or the lentil burgers. As for myself, who has looked up to Jurek and drawn inspiration from him for a while now, I felt like I knew him a little bit better after reading this book, and that I respected him even more. The book inspired me and made me think about my own running, and -perhaps most importantly for Jurek- it made me want to buy hum a beer.