A Short Run with Ultrarunner Scott Jurek
Last week, I had the honor of running 3 miles with a running celebrity. Here’s a rundown of how I got to run with Scott Jurek on the Appalachian Trail (A.T.), who Scott Jurek is and what he is doing on the A.T., and how I got myself in the background of some local news coverage.
Who is Scott Jurek? In the world of ultrarunning, he is a superstar. He has the US record for longest distance run in 24 hours (165.7 miles…or 6.5 marathons in one day at an average pace of 8:42 per mile), has won the prestigious 100-mile Western States Endurance Run 7 years in a row, and has won several other major events including the Badwater Ultramarathon (135 miles starting in Death Valley in mid-July, with 120 degree temperatures…). In combination with his running, he is also a major advocate for plant-based diets (vegan since 1999), and he co-wrote a bestseller Eat & Run in 2012.
Why is he on the Appalachian Trail? At the end of May, Scott began a 2,190-mile journey from Georgia to Maine in which he hopes to set the speed record for fastest completion of the entire A.T. Calling it his ‘masterpiece’ before retirement, his original plan was to beat the existing record of 46 days, 11 hours by up to 4 days, shooting for a July 7th finish in a record 42 days. By June 24th, he had already gone through New Jersey and was in Harriman & Bear Mountain State Parks in New York. He had completed nearly 50 miles the day before.
So that is how it happened that, around noon last Wednesday, I joined fellow NY-NJ Trail Conference crazy runners Josh and Melissa in a game of “Let’s see if we can find Scott, get a photo-op with him on the A.T. (where our trail builders are actively building the trail, in the area that the very first section of the A.T. was established in 1923), and run with him for as long as we can”. Up at the summit of Bear Mountain, we first realized it wouldn’t be a simple “Hey, how’s it goin’?” encounter when we spotted a bunch of local reporters with news cameras…and when we found Scott, he was surrounded by more than a dozen runners. But something seemed a little unusual, because he was wearing a bright yellow “guide” vest, had a dog running with someone in front of him, and someone else was right next to him holding his arm.
Scott Jurek guides Tom Panek on the Appalachian Trail on the summit of Bear Mountain
In the whoosh of Scott and everyone running by, and us joining the pack, it took us a few seconds to realize that Scott was guiding a blind runner up the A.T. on Bear Mountain. Most people attempting a speed record probably wouldn’t purposely do things to slow themselves down, but Scott decided to run a section of difficult terrain with his blind friend as a way to raise awareness for his friend’s guide dog non-profit. So we received an awesome inspirational boost right off the bat as we ran with everyone 1/4 mile up to the summit. There, Scott took a quick breather as the reporters talked with Scott and his friend, Tom; they first ran together in the Boston Marathon this past April, where Scott guided Tom to a 3:42 finish (read more about Tom here: News12 Hudson Valley story, LoHud.com story, Observer.com story). We listened in and had fun taking some photos, like the one below of Melissa and Josh in front of the in-progress interview.
Melissa and Josh in front of an in-progress interview with Scott Jurek and Tom Panek
The interview finished up, Scott said goodbye to Tom, and we joined in with the entourage of runners that had grown to about 15. We passed Perkins Tower, spotted the Manhattan skyline, and then started our descent of Bear Mountain. I’ve been on this section of trail many times before, as the Trail Conference has been building new trail here for more than 10 years. It includes a stretch of incredible rockwork, including more than 800 handhewn granite steps (put in place with help from more than 700 volunteers), and it was pretty cool being led by Scott down this trail.
Scott Jurek leads an entourage of runners down the Appalachian Trail on Bear Mountain
A quick shout out to Melissa (bright ‘Trail Crew’ shirt above), who didn’t have her running shoes, but couldn’t pass up the chance to run with Scott and so ran nearly 3 miles in athletic sandals!
We all wound our way down the mountain in mostly-single-file, and then took maybe a 10-minute break while Scott refueled. At this point, some runners in our group decided to stop, a few more runners joined in, and we decided to follow along a little further. Scott finished his fueling, and then was nice enough to accommodate any photo requests while we started walking. The three of us tag-teamed with the camera, and so we got the photo up top of me and Scott at Hessian Lake. Aside from this photo time, it seemed like most were trying to respect Scott’s space. The group of 20 now ran through the Bear Mountain Zoo (Scott took a quick stop to watch two big bears playing) to get to the Bear Mountain Bridge. Scott led the group across the Hudson River, where he hoped to cover another 30 miles for the day, but we decided to make that our stopping point and watched as the group started across the bridge.
Scott Jurek leads the group of runners across the Bear Mountain Bridge
We ended up running with Scott for about 3 miles, and it was an honor being able to join him on 0.14% of his incredible Appalachian Trail journey. And lucky for us, our cars were back where we started…3 miles away and more than 1,000 feet of climbing…which meant we had a bit more time to reflect back on Scott’s inspiration! A fun 6 miles for the day, up and down Bear Mountain, with an ultrarunning celebrity, two cool co-workers (thanks Josh for putting this “Let’s see what happens!” plan together), and a bunch of other great runners sharing in the adventure.
Later that day, we discovered some of the news articles, and found video that they had shot up at the summit of Bear Mountain. Check out the short video on News12 Hudson Valley’s website. My royal blue Trail Conference shirt and pale white legs make a few appearances, including the shot below of Josh, myself, and Melissa behind Scott and his wife Jenny (who is serving as his main support crew!).
Trail Conference representation on News12 video!
Scott is currently in Vermont as of Tuesday morning (June 30), with just less than 500 miles to go; you can follow his progress on his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ScottJurek. It’s tough terrain the rest of the way, but here’s hoping he gets to the end in Maine around his goal date to set a new speed record!
I’ll end this fairly long post with a great quote from Scott from his Bear Mountain summit interview that we listened in on:
Reporter Question: What have been some of the struggles?
Scott Jurek: Some of the biggest struggles I would say are, each day, trying to get myself to get out and do the same thing over again. I mean, when I finish at night…I mean, two nights ago, I finished at 1am in the morning, and the next morning I’m waking up at 5:30 and hitting the trail again. And that’s the biggest thing, is every day I’m like “Oh man, I just finished 50 miles!”, you know, so jubilant, and then I remember right away that I’m going to have to wake up and do that again. So, as much as I love being out here, it’s a struggle, and life is a struggle, and it’s in times like that that you learn the most.
Valentine’s Day Breakfast on the Farm
This past Valentine’s Day weekend, Heather, Nolan and I bundled ourselves up and drove to a big farm in the black dirt region of Orange County, New York. Upon our arrival, we parked the car near some farm machinery, wandered through a large, cold barn, and eventually found ourselves in one of the most interesting ‘restaurants’ in the area…although I would hardly call it a restaurant by any conventional means.
Rogowski Farm (www.rogowskifarm.com) is just north of the NY/NJ border in the hamlet of Pine Island (near Warwick), and along with supporting a CSA, hosting farmer’s markets, and growing a diverse array of produce, they offer fresh-from-the-farm breakfast every weekend throughout the year. The fresh, local ingredients immediately made a wonderful impression on our tastebuds; our simple veggie omelettes with bacon and sweet potato home fries were just outstanding, and both Nolan and I could not get enough of the ‘just-came-from-the-pig’ bacon!
But this farm-to-table experience was much more than just amazing food, especially since breakfast was prepared, cooked, and consumed all in the same open area. The setup was very comfortable, with tables of different sizes and styles (matched with chairs that are themselves different styles). On top of the tables, no two coffee mugs were alike (at least from what we could see!), and a carafe of hot coffee just appeared on the table once we settled into our seats (which was perfect for a cold February morning). A few small chalkboards described the morning’s options – nice and simple. Friendly waitresses, delicious homemade hot chocolate, a tableside chat with the farm owner, bringing Nolan up to the chef for him to say Thank You…what a great breakfast.
So it goes without saying that I’d highly recommend a farm breakfast at Rogowski Farm, where you can support local farming and fill your belly with deliciousness.
Lincoln Memorial at Night
I’ve been to the Lincoln Memorial twice…sort of. My first visit was more of a run-by, as I passed Lincoln around the 11-mile mark of my Marine Corps Marathon. I was honestly more focused on keeping my eyes peeled for Heather and my parents, who were planning to be there (luckily I spotted them loudly cheering among the sea of crazy spectators), so I didn’t really check out the building itself.
However, I was back in Washington D.C. just about a month later, and the Lincoln Memorial was one of a few places we checked out on our short trip. The way all these structures were lit at night made them even more striking, and I thought the view of Lincoln sitting in his own columned Parthenon from this angle looked a bit majestic. It was a chilly November evening, but I was glad to have the chance to experience this significant site and be reminded of this country’s history.
So Happy Birthday to Lincoln and Washington this month (rolled up into today’s Presidents’ Day). And not to be forgotten, Happy Birthday today to my 9-year-old niece, Madison!
Jeremy’s Childhood Stuff: Care Bears
Ah yes, Christmas day 1985…what a glorious morning that was. My sister got some ‘Princess of Power’ and Ken dolls, my brother got some Transformers (including an awesome Optimus Prime huge truck), a motorized Construx set, and a belt…and I, I got a box full of awesome Care Bears figures (I also got a huge red Tonka firetruck on Christmas Eve). Of course, I don’t remember any of this, being a little more than 2.5 years old, but luckily we’ve got some great photos to fill in the gaps (thanks Mom and Dad!).
I may not remember that morning, but I do remember the Care Bears figures. My mom said I played with them quite a lot, and I especially can think of playing with a green one with a shamrock and a lion one.
Flash forward almost 30 years, and I’ve finally grabbed tons of my childhood toys, games, trophies, sports memorabilia, junk, etc. from my parents’ attic (so stay tuned for more childhood memories centered around this stuff!). Amongst all the goodies, we found a beat-up bag full of 20 Care Bears figures, and with a little scrubbing, they look almost brand new! The photo below shows them all lined up after their cleaning, and now they are ready for Nolan to play with himself. Maybe he’ll like playing with them as much as I did!
In case you are interested, the inspiring names of these figures are (from left to right, front to back): Good Luck Bear, Cheer Bear, Tenderheart Bear, Grumpy Bear, Bedtime Bear, Love-a-Lot Bear, Funshine Bear, Birthday Bear, Grams, Baby Hugs, Baby Tugs, Champ Bear, Share Bear, Professor Coldheart, Cozy Heart Penguin, Lotsa Heart Elephant, Swift Heart Rabbit, Bright Heart Raccoon, Brave Heart Lion, and Cloudkeeper.
Outdoor Shower Visitor
Really, how great are outdoor showers after a hot, sandy day at the beach?!? Down on Tybee Island in Georgia, our rental cottage last June was quite awesome, and it included a nice outdoor shower with saloon-style doors that even Nolan enjoyed. One day, as Heather was de-sanding herself, this little green fella gave her quite a surprise. He was comfortably clinging to the shower-side of the one saloon door, and after our showers and a few photos (he let me get rather close for this shot), he moved around a bit before disappearing later that day.
Toppled Nolan on Christmas Eve
Taking photos of infants can be fun, lots of fun actually. It can also be fairly frustrating, but mostly fun.
A year ago, on Christmas Eve, we were attempting to take photos of Nolan in his Christmas pajamas in front of our tree. Nolan, however, had other plans, and he didn’t really feel like sitting nice in front of the tree. Instead, he plopped down on his back and started trying to grab any ornament he could reach. It was, as usual, funny just to watch him play around, and it’s nice to get non-posed photos of babies just being babies. We’ll see tonight if Nolan wants to get Christmas Eve photos in his pajamas again…and if he won’t mind sitting still in front of the tree for a second or two.
Have a Merry Christmas tomorrow!
I recently discovered a number of photos I had taken with 35mm black & white film and thought I would share a few of my favorites. I enrolled in a photography course my senior year of college (and even did some on-campus work as a film lab monitor), and was able to use my Grandpa’s old 35mm Minolta to learn a bunch of things that I still recall today when I’m shooting photos. I haven’t shot any non-digital photos in quite a long time, but I really enjoyed doing so for that course as well as for a few years after that. As soon as I got my first digital SLR…I didn’t really make any time for 35mm film.
I cannot really recall where I took this flower photo, but I like how the lighting brings out the textures and details of the petals and interior.
When is the last time you shot a camera with film??
Nolan Loves Saint Nicholas
Christmas is fast approaching…and as you can see, Nolan is super excited!! Well, he has enjoyed the finding-a-Christmas-tree, and the house decorating (especially all the lights), but he was not all that thrilled to be sitting in Saint Nicholas’ lap last weekend. At least he didn’t cry and wail, and he had a fun rest of the day checking out the Bethlehem Christkindlmarkt.
Morning Meadow Bouquet – Etsy Print
A meadow full of flowers, just as the rising sun hits, is a great place to be with a camera! I had to get down low (and a bit wet with dew) to capture this photo of backlit flowers and grasses, and the mix of focus gives a bit of depth to the scene.
If you like this photo, please check out this print and many others on my J. Apgar Photo Etsy shop (www.etsy.com/listing/103293297/morning-meadow-bouquet-8×10-fine-art).Prints can make a great gift for family, friends, grab bag/secret santa, or any other occasion; just combine with a nice frame, and viola! Leading up to Christmas, I am now offering 40% off prints (just enter ‘WINTERSNOW’ when making a purchase), so don’t pass up this chance for some great prints. Also, be sure to visit my shop’s front page (www.etsy.com/shop/japgarphoto) and check out some of my other available prints! Thanks for your support!
Blossoms at Snug Harbor Botanical Gardens
Botanical gardens in early spring can be a great place to pack in a lot of flower photography! I took an unexpected trip to Staten Island’s Snug Harbor Botanical Gardens last March, and while it was still a little early for many plants, the flowers and blossoming trees that were ready looked fantastic. These pink blossoms greeted visitors near the entrance to the gardens, and I thought their color matched nicely with the blue and white sky above.
I’ll be sure to post some of my other favorites from the gardens in future posts.
Winter is On the Horizon
I’m back! The last photo was posted back in February…but semi-regular photos haven’t really been posted for a much longer time period. I don’t want to get your hopes up (or my own), but I’d really like to get back into a routine of sharing photos…so we’ll see how this goes!
Here’s a bit of background to get us up to speed — since starting this site 6 years ago (11.15.2008 was my first entry), a lot has certainly changed in my life. Starting in 2012, I had a bit of difficulty posting a new photo every single day with both a new home and a pregnant wife, and there were multiple stretches of more than a couple weeks where I wasn’t able to post any photos. By the time 2013 rolled along and our son Nolan was born, I completely fell off the bandwagon! Time I might have spent picking a photo to post and write about was spent changing diapers or sleeping… By January 2014, I hadn’t posted anything in 9 months and I attempted to get back into regular monthly or weekly postings, but even that just didn’t happen. So now it is November 2014, and I’m giving it another go-around…the upshot of having not posted much of anything over the past 2 years is I definitely have plenty of great photos to share!
So to follow up yesterday’s Thanksgiving photo, here is a sunset shot I took this month with Nolan in our backyard. We were doing some posed family shots in the last light of the day, and after sitting still, Nolan enjoyed being able to roam around. We’re mostly set for winter, and we hope you are too!
Happy Thanksgiving, 2014
Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!
Leggs and Nolan, 14 Weeks
Nolan likes taunting Leggs…and Leggs mostly tries to avoid Nolan if he can. But once in a while, Leggs will get cozy with Nolan, especially if he is on a blanket that he wants to lay on. That’s what Leggs did back in July as we were taking some photos at Nolan’s 14 week mark, and they both smiled (kind of) for the camera while chillin’ on the sheep blanket.
I’m sure Leggs cannot wait for Nolan to become even more mobile than he already is!
Thoughts of Spring and Butterflies
Well, it’s snowing here at home, which seems to be nothing new this winter. We’re at about 3 inches…on top of 13 inches from a couple days ago…on top of however much from the past month! So while I do enjoy winter and the snow, I wouldn’t mind seeing spring and summer come a bit quicker. So here’s a lovely butterfly photo from last year to help anyone else suffering from too much winter. It was taken at the New Jersey Botanical Garden in Ringwood State Park where there were so many cool flowers and plants. It was my first time there, and it was a cool place to explore, so check it out this spring/summer if you’ve never been there before!
And yes, I only posted one photo in January…hopefully I can do at least two this month! Slowly but surely…
I think his name was Jeremy…Whatever happened to him?!
After nearly 9 months since my last post, I thought I had better post something or else I’ll even forget about this blog! The short answer to this question is that primarily great things have happened in the past year. Of course, these great things have also been time-consuming/life-consuming, so it has been difficult for me to really carve out a chunk of time to get back into my Daily Photographs.
The main life-changing event since last March was the birth of my son, Nolan Thomas, in mid-April. He is nearing 9 months in age, and it is really remarkable how fast this time has flown by. A few words that come to mind to describe the past ~9 months — tough, exhausting, rewarding, incredible, joy.
In terms of this photo blog, for now, I’ll be shooting for posting at least a Weekly Photograph…maybe I’ll be able to work back up to Daily photos at some point! So please check back periodically, or just sign-up with your e-mail near the bottom of the page to receive new posts as they are written.
So with that, I’ll leave you with an all-smiles family photo from Christmas. Here’s hoping 2014 is a great year!
Spikes in Black & White
I thought this flower had some neat textures to capture with macro close-ups, especially with some spheres of dew mixed in. It also turned out that the flower was bathed in light while some dark green leaves behind it were in shadows, which created a great contrast to really allow the form of the flower to pop.
Storm Approaching at Miles Canyon
Miles Canyon is a cool spot just south of the capital city of Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. It has pretty cool geologic features and is a very narrow stretch of the Yukon River that has proved quite treacherous and deadly, especially during the Klondike Gold Rush of the 1890s. On this particular day, we did not stick around the canyon for very long because we could see stormy weather on the horizon. We were able to escape the storm for a short amount of time, but it eventually caught up with us while we were driving and gave us a bit of Yukon hail.
Noah Paints a Car
My nephew Noah loves his cars. So you can definitely understand his excitement when he got a crafty paintable car for Christmas. He was able to not only play with messy paints, but also make his own model car. He did take a quick break to smile big for the camera before going back to painting his wheels.
Bird…on Carpeted Stairs?
So it turns out I don’t have a whole lot of bird photos. I enjoy watching birds and listening to them, but I really haven’t explored bird photography in depth yet. With that being said, here is a not-great-but-kind-of-interesting bird photo that I took a few years ago. On some carpeted steps in our apartment building, I happened to spot a little bird that must have found his way inside (probably those neighbors that always propped the back door open…). I got a photo while he was sitting on the stairs, but he soon starting flying into the big windows all around. I opened up the doors on either end of the building, and luckily, the bird finally found his way out.
Hopefully the next bird photos I post will have more of a natural setting!
Ben Loves Marshmallows
A nice campfire was always a pleasant way to end a day of fieldwork in the Yukon. And part of that campfire experience definitely involved marshmallows. My first time in the Yukon, I was with another student, Ben, mapping out vegetation along rivers. We both loved campfire marshmallows, and I was able to capture Ben’s elation in this photo. However, I was unable to capture our disappointment upon trying some horrible ‘flavoured’ marshmallows…I’m not even sure I could describe what they tasted like!
Clear Morning Skies Above the Campground
It has been my experience that it is much better to wake up in your tent with the sun shining than to hear drops of rain on the surface of the tent. And I would guess this is what most would think as well. This photo was taken on one such sun-shiny morning as most of the other campers in our group were still sleeping, or perhaps just laying in bed not wanted to get up.
Playing in Foam
What do you do when you’re staying at a place on the beach and a storm rolls in and creates rough surf and tons of foam?? You go and play in the foam, of course! It was kind of gross wading through this sea foam, but hey, since we couldn’t go in the water or bake in the sun, we might as well have fun with foam. Amy, Heather and Jodie were definitely getting their lower legs all foamy around the time this photo was taken.
Dogs in the Fire
Hot dogs, that is. Mmm, mmm, hot dogs roasted over an open fire are quite delicious, especially when they are a bit charred. There are many different strategies for roasting the hot dog (or in this case, hot dog and a half), but whatever gets the roaster their desired dog, that is all that matters.
Cloudy Day View from Sunrise Mountain
Sunrise Mountain is a great spot along the Appalachian Trail with views all around. This is looking southeast over Frankford Township, and even though this particular day was a bit overcast, it was still a lovely autumn scene from atop the mountain.