I have a new personal hero–Scott Jurek, ultramarathoner and vegan. Scott routinely competes in 50 and 100 mile races, has designed a running shoe with Brooks, and has even raced with the Tarahumara, the world’s best distance runners, on their home turf in the Barrancas of Mexico, all while eating a vegan diet. I wish I were this awesome. I can’t even commit to run a wimpy little half marathon.
I first read about Scott in the book Born to Run, which I just finished today and will review here after I’ve had some time to digest. Learning about a vegan athlete who outperforms his omnivorous competition in one of the most grueling sports I can imagine certainly got my attention, so I decided to check him out. I found an older interview form the New York Times that had this in it:
Jurek grew up in Proctor, Minn., eating cookie dough, canned vegetables and his share of fast food. When his mother, Lynn, developed multiple sclerosis (she died this spring), he and his siblings began cooking, but the food was, he said, “very Midwest — meat and potatoes.” In college, his diet began to improve, and as he “saw how much disease is lifestyle related,” he began eating “real food, eating the way people have been eating for thousands of years.”
While I may not be able to match his pace and endurance (yet), I learned from the NY Times piece that Scott and I have something pretty serious in common. Our mothers, both named Lynn, have multiple sclerosis, and their chronic debilitating illness was the backdrop for our childhoods. This experience pushed us both to learn how food effects health, and we both reached the same conclusion–that animal products should be eliminated from our diet.
Since running an Ultramarathon remains a distant dream for now, I have decided to commit to another challenging distance event. This coming June, I will be riding in a 150 mile, 2-day bike ride to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. I have never ridden for so long, and I am more than a little intimidated. That said, riding a bike for two days is easy compared to the races Scott runs…and also compared to the challenge of living with MS. If you would like to support my efforts, please consider making a donation to me or my team (or sign up to ride with us):