Extreme Exposure: Jurek's A.T. record, Steck's 82 peaks, Mildon's flip, more

Scott Jurek completes the Appalachian Trail in a record 46 days and eight hours, and more of the latest news in adventure sports.
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Welcome back to Extreme Exposure, a weekly column bringing you the best photography and news from the world of action and outdoor sports​. Perseverance ruled this week as Scott Jurek set an Appalachian Trail ultra running mark and climber Ueli Steck reached the halfway point of his 82 summits in 80 days.

On Record

In a record-setting feat unfathomable to most, Scott Jurek completed his traverse of the Appalachian Trail—which spans over 2,100 miles of the Eastern Seaboard from Georgia to Maine—in 46 days, eight hours. Jurek bettered the previous mark, set by Jennifer Pharr Davis in 2011, by just three hours.

At the start, Jurek hardly expected his attempt to be that close. But according to reports, the ultramarathoner, who has won most of the sport’s biggest events, fought through a tweaked knee, a quad strain and a bad stomach during the journey that began May 27. The setbacks forced him to cram: To beat the record he had to finish the trail by 5:15 p.m. Sunday, so he ran three all-nighters in the lead up to the finish.

His crew was pushing him with as much compassion as they could near the end. “It’s a delicate balance,” he told SI.com. “But I knew what they were trying to do. They knew how close I was to the edge of imploding because my body wasn’t getting enough sleep but they had to keep me going. To beat the record I had to either run faster or sleep less. Running faster wasn’t really an option because it’s really slow terrain.”

And the tight finish made him appreciate Davis’ run even more. “Multi-day challenges are extremely difficult,” he said. “In 46 days, so many things can happen. Jen is an amazing athlete, whether female or male, the playing field is even because of the difficulty of the Appalachian Trail.” 

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Halfway Home

Climbing 82 summits higher than 12,000 feet in 80 days. That’s Swiss mountaineer Ueli Steck’s goal this summer as he attempts to summit the Alps’ biggest peaks throughout France, Italy and Switzerland—while the rest of just try to stay focused on getting the BBQ fired up. Steck hit the halfway point last week when he conqured 13,848-foot Zinalrothorn in Switzerland. To top it off, Steck isn’t using any motors aside from his own throughout the journey—cycling, biking, skiing and paragliding to each starting point.

Steck began the project with German Michi Wohlleben, but Wohlleben had a scary landing during a paragliding mission, forcing him to pull out with injuries. Still, Steck has managed to find his rhythm with different climbing friends who’ve joined him along the way: in late June he crossed 18 Italian peaks off his list in a single day with Swiss Climber Andreas Steindl in a test of alpine endurance they dubbed the “Spaghetti Tour.”

Steck has until August 29 to complete the project, and if he does here’s a couple of interesting stats: he’ll have climbed 62 vertical miles and ridden his bike over 600.

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Busting Out

In an emerging sport that melds several classic mountain biking disciplines, Brett Rheeder captured his second slopestyle title this summer at the Crankworx Les 2 Alpes, in the mountain village of Isère, France, with one stylish run that provided enough padding between him and his competition. Rheeder also won the slopestyle event at the Rotorua, New Zealand, stop in March. His wins set him up to capture the sport’s first Triple Crown title next month when the Crankworx tour makes its final stop in Whistler, Canada.

Crankworx is a mix of mountain biking’s most intense freeride disciplines, including downhill, slopestyle and enduro. The tour announced it would offer a slopestyle Triple Crown in February, giving significant credibility to the sport’s acrobatic set (check Rheeder’s clip, below).

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Four History

Managing to keep one of the most heavily guarded secrets in BMX under wraps for nine months, Nitro Circus, an action sports media collective led by Travis Pastrana, released Revolution Day Sunday on NBC. The program chronicled Jed Mildon’s and James Foster’s attempts to become the first BMX riders to complete a quad backflip, or four full rotations through the air.

If you missed it, spoiler alert: Mildon stuck the trick as the show culminated nine months of attempts by the two riders, who worked on the project literally a world apart (Mildon in his native New Zealand and Foster in the U.S.) until Mildon, frustrated by not being able to find good weather windows, joined Foster at Pastranaland, Pastrana’s dirt riding compound in Maryland.

The crux of the project was balancing the ramp angle (a 21-foot-tall box jump) and the landing transition to allow the riders to carry enough speed to pull four full rotations and still land smoothly (and safely). Foster suffered 10 broken ribs and a separated shoulder as the duo searched for the sweet spot. Check out Mildon’s run and look out for more deatils on the feat on SI.com.