1–2 Mar 2025 249 days to go! #BostonRunShow

Book Review: “North: Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail.”

Written by Mary McManus

I met Scott Jurek at the 2024 Boston Run Show. I was moved to share my story with him. He said while he loves runners who break records (of course Scott being one of the greatest runners of all time), the sport needs stories of inspiration like mine. He told me his mother lived with MS so he understood the effects of a neuromuscular condition. What a thrill to see Scott again at the Boston Outdoor Expo in April. He is gracious, humble and kind. When I asked him if we could take a photo together, he said, “Let’s do it with your book.” I emailed Scott with info about my latest book after the Run Show and when I heard he would be speaking at the Expo. He had ‘warned’ me at  the Boston Run Show he wasn’t very good with email but as soon as he saw me and gave me a hug he said, “I owe you an email but then I knew I’d be seeing you here at the Expo.”

After hearing him speak on two occasions and having these warm and wonderful conversations with Scott, I dusted off my copy of “North:Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail.” Even though I knew that he had achieved his goal of beating the previous FKT (fastest known time) for the AT (Appalachian Trail), I found myself holding my breath at times wondering how is he possibly going to do it.

This thrilling memoir lays bare the soul of Scott Jurek who is known as  a living legend renowned for his speed and endurance. “North” also lays bare the intimate details of his relationship with his strong, resilient, determined, no-nonsense (read as no BS) wife, Jenny. I loved how the memoir is written in each of their voices. We are treated to experiencing the views from Scott on the trail and Jenny as support crew in their make shift home away from home while Scott chased the FKT on the AT.

The vulnerability shared by Jenny and Scott and the way they talk about their relationship moved me to tears and goosebumps. The harrowing experiences left me gasping and wondering, did he make it out alive which of course I knew the answer to since I’d just been with Scott at the Boston Outdoor Expo.

Scott’s mind, body and soul are wrung out on the pages of his journey along the Appalachian Trail. His resilience and coming back stronger than ever to achieve the goal he set out to accomplish sent chills up my spine. The soul lessons he learned are profound; lessons we can all learn when we set out to challenge ourselves way outside of our comfort zone. Jenny faces her own health challenges after a life threatening miscarriage, and manages what’s happening with her body while crewing for Scott with grace, grit and determination. As happens on the roads/trails and in life, just when we think we can’t take another step, we are able to dig deep and keep moving forward most often because of the angels that are there just when we need them most. Scott refers to them as trail angels. The strength of Scott and Jenny’s relationship endures today as they raise two beautiful children. 

The trajectory of Scott and Jenny’s life as individuals and as a couple was transformed by their experiences while Scott set the record for the FKT on the Appalachian Trail. My life has been inspired by reading “North:Finding My Way While Running the Appalachian Trail” and being blessed to connect with Scott in person and on the pages of his memoir!

Available on Amazon
In health and wellness,
Mary McManus