What can I say about this book? I’ve been waiting months to read Eat and Run, ever since I saw it profiled at Runner’s World. After ripping through the 272 page book (well, e-book in my case) in just over 24 hours, I have to say my only complaint is that I wish there was more!
Jurek is one of America’s ultrarunning greats. He has won the Western States 100 numerous times, was the first American winner of the Spartathalon, and the list goes on. What makes him even more noteworthy, though, is that he is also a dedicated vegan. Born and raised in Minnesota by a rough, at times unaffectionate father and a mother whose MS would eventually confine her to a nursing home, Scott discovered running as a way to train for ski races and to bond with his best friend, Dusty, a renegade who kind of steals the show in this book. His move toward veganism is a gradual progression, motivated in part by concerns for his health and performance, in part by ethical concerns, and in part from the influence of the many friends he makes along his life’s journey. The book is structured as a collection of race reports, which in and of themselves are awe-inspiring. I’m sure that, as a distance runner, these stories appealed to me more than they might to some others… but anyone who loves adventure will be rapt by his tales of running over mountains, through snowfields, encountering locals, dealing with injuries, and even a hilarious/freaky encounter with a rattlesnake. The narrative of his life, though, is also woven into his story. While Jurek clearly has an innate talent that helps him, his diet and training are also the result of hard work and running through pain.
In addition to the story, which is readable and moves quickly, each chapter also concludes with a running tip and recipes. The recipes are what pushed me over from liking this book to loving it. I’ve made two already and they are great! Unlike the Weekday Vegetarian recipes that I commented on earlier in the week, these recipes are approachable. Many are easy in preparation (which makes sense, since he makes so many of them on the road), and even if you haven’t heard of every ingredient, the overall impact is to make a healthier version of foods you already eat: dips, chili, burgers, etc. I made a batch of Jurek’s tofu “cheese” spread and the lentil burgers (a recipe available for free on the Runner’s World page above). The cheese spread is only kind of cheese-ish, but it has a nice tangy flavor and is good with chips or veggies. The burgers are delicious, which is a good thing since I now have a month’s supply!
Wanting more was honestly my only complaint with this book. I actually gasped when I “turned” a page on my e-book and saw I was already at the epilogue. The story, and maybe Jurek’s real-life story, ends on a hopeful but very unfinished note. I would have liked to hear more about his coaching, what he’s doing now, where he sees himself going. He also seems hesitant to delve too much into his present-day relationships with ex-wife Leah, friend Dusty, and Jenny. I understand his reticence about doing so… It probably makes life easier for him, but artistically it makes the book seems less full. His affection for Dusty, his mother, and even his father is clear though, and it’s genuine and moving.
Pick this one up if you’re a runner. Cook as many of the recipes as you can. Then turn on the Olympics tomorrow for the start of the running events and totally geek out, as I plan to do!