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Posts tagged “nynjtc

Photo #1588

A Short Run with Ultrarunner Scott Jurek

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!).

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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.

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Photo #1413 – 09.27.12

Go Hiking with Maps of the Jersey Highlands

Since I make maps, I’d say it is appropriate for me to promote the maps to potential users…so to anyone looking to get out on some trails this autumn in northern New Jersey or southern New York, check out some awesome trail maps!

This title, “Jersey Highlands Trails: Central North Region,” covers much of northern Morris County and portions of Sussex and Passaic counties, and there are more than 230 miles of marked trails shown on the maps.  I had no clue there were so many trails in this area until I worked on this map!  If you’d like to do some exploring yourself, click here to learn more about these maps.


Photo #1321 – 06.27.12

Time to Print the Maps

As a cartographer, I have found many people have questions about how trail maps are made, so I am always more than happy to describe the process.  Aside from creating the maps and collecting GPS information on the trails, a big component of the process is the printing itself.  Working with large printing facilities, we print our maps on a special synthetic material called Tyvek, and this Tyvek is run through massive six-color offset printing presses like the one above.  Each ink color has a separate printing plate, and the sheets of Tyvek run through this machine from right to left to produce our popular trail maps.  It’s fascinating watching this machinery at work, so I always enjoy attending these map printings.

Tonight I’ll be in Norwalk, CT concluding a series of presentations at regional REI stores about how maps are made.  I hope I have shed some light on this topic for you as well!


Photo #1295 – 06.01.12

Take a Hike!

Saturday, June 2nd is National Trails Day.  This photo was taken last year on National Trails Day along the Appalachian Trail at Bear Mountain State Park in New York.  This avid hiker, Richard, recently turned 88, and not only does he get out on the trails as much as he can, he also volunteers with the NY-NJ Trail Conference.  Most recently, he helped us to assemble lots of printed map sets to make them available for purchase.

So if you’re looking for something to do this weekend, seek out a nearby park (or maybe find a park you’ve never been to before!) and go for a hike.  Whether you’re 8-years-old or 88-years-old, you’re sure to have a good time out on the trails.


Photo #1113 – 12.02.11

REI Store in New York City — Check Out the Glass Railing!!

Recreational Equipment, Inc. (REI) is an outdoor recreation retailer that also operates as a co-op (which basically means the company is owned by its members).  Yesterday, I was able to attend a community reception to celebrate the opening of their first New York City store, located within the historic Puck Building in the SoHo area.  I was there as a representative of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and if you look closely at the above photo of the store’s interior, you might notice a Trail Conference trail map integrated into the glass panels of the railing.  This map, showing the Four Birds Trail, is one of 7 that I provided to REI to use on these glass railings surrounding the 3-story staircase in the center of the store.  The store itself is an awesome space full of historical relics from the building, but in my obviously biased opinion, these map graphics that educate customers about outstanding trails in the region are definitely the coolest part of the store!

To see what this section of trail looks like on the published map, check out this previous daily photograph {photo #895}.  If you rotate the left-most glass panel 90-degrees counterclockwise, it’ll match up with the linked image above the label ‘BIRDS’.

The store’s grand opening celebration is going on all this weekend, so stop in if you are in the neighborhood (or take a special trip if you’re not doing anything…they have some nice giveaways!): www.rei.com/soho (click for details)


Photo #1095 – 11.14.11

Golden Ridge Above Sterling Lake

Every October, the NY-NJ Trail Conference holds its Annual Meeting for members of the organization, complete with awards, hikes, and a delicious pancake breakfast.  In 2010, the meeting was held at the visitor’s center at Sterling Forest State Park in NY, and I arrived early to help with some setup.  Actually, I arrived a bit too early, and since no one was around and the building was locked, I took a short hike down to Sterling Lake.  As I did so, the first orange rays of the day’s light shone upon the ridge on the far side of the lake.  All of a sudden, the top half of the ridge was a brilliant golden color while the bottom shadowed half showed off a patchwork of fall foliage.  I sat on some rocks at the water’s edge and enjoyed a bit of quiet tranquility watching the golden ridge.

Before I knew it, I noticed activity back at the visitor’s center and left my rock to go help with the morning’s preparations.  In the end, we had a great meeting and an excellent day to be out for a hike!


Photo #1053 – 10.03.11

Jersey Highlands Trails: Central North Region Map Set

The New Jersey Highlands stretch diagonally across the northern half of the state, and a great amount of parkland exists along this Highlands corridor.  The set of two maps above covers a large area of the Jersey Highlands in northern Morris County (as well as bits of Passaic, Sussex, and Warren), and more than 230 miles of marked trails are shown on the maps…I had no clue just how many trails there were in the area until I made this map!  Some of the most popular parks include Pyramid Mountain, Farny State Park, Wildcat Ridge, Mahlon Dickerson Reservation, and Allamuchy/Stephens State Parks.

So if you’re interested in doing any hiking in northern New Jersey (plenty of excellent places to check out fall foliage!), definitely check out this comprehensive set of maps (click here to check them out)!  Also, feel free to ask me about any hiking suggestions!