My Literary Interest In The Appalachian Trail

We go to the bookstore every other week at least. It’s supposed to be once a month for budgetary reasons but it’s just our favourite place to be so sometimes it’s weekends in a row.

And at our beloved Westhills Indigo there’s a dedicated running section. There’s also running and work out books in Wellness (Between Sex and Diet across from Medical Memoirs) but in Sports, three knee-level shelves labeled Running.

This is how I started reading about the Appalachian Trail. I found two books boasting on the cover about setting the trail record, Jenn Pharr Davis in 2011 and Scott Jurek in 2015. They both had endorsements from people I admire as well, Christopher McDougal and Dean Karnazes respectively. So I bought both to read in chronological order.

Turned out Jenn wrote her book after Scott had taken her record and after Karl Meltzer had taken Scott’s. Meanwhile Scott also ends his book with Meltzer taking the record.

And to be succinct: I like Jenn’s book and I love Scott’s (I should say Scott and Jenny’s because his wife co-wrote it detailing her experience heading the support crew and that’s a big part of what makes the book truly great) and I love them together as companion pieces. Davis gives more history and introduces key figures while Jurek gives a much better in-the-moment narrative.

So after passing it a million times on Netflix I felt I really had a reason now to watch Made To Be Broken, a movie about Karl Meltzer’s record setting run on the AT.

And I’m not super glad I did. I mean, I’m glad I did so that I’m not curious but it’s meh. It’s 41 minutes long meaning every day is summarized in less than a minute and it feels like there’s nothing there. It’s cut like a trailer for a better movie.

I was more aware of it than an average viewer because it’s mentioned in both books that Karl is sponsored by Redbull so I saw the beverages and the logo and the fact that his dozens and dozens of identical shoes are in the Redbull colours but I don’t think it’s actually overstated or obvious.

I guess I’m sucked in though and now have to read or watch things about the trail and it’s speed runs whether they’re particularly good or not.


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