The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience – Pina Books
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National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Jennifer Pharr Davis unlocks the secret to maximizing perseverance–on and off the trail

Jennifer Pharr Davis, a record holder of the FKT (fastest known time) on the Appalachian Trail, reveals the secrets and habits behind endurance as she chronicles her incredible accomplishments in the world of endurance hiking, backpacking, and trail running. With a storyteller’s ear for fascinating detail and description, Davis takes readers along as she trains and sets her record, analyzing and trail-testing the theories and methodologies espoused by her star-studded roster of mentors. She distills complex rituals and histories into easy-to-understand tips and action items that will help you take perseverance to the next level. The Pursuit of Endurance empowers readers to unlock phenomenal endurance and leverage newfound grit to achieve personal bests in everything from sports and family to the boardroom.

61 reviews for The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience

  1. rtrittipoe (verified owner)

    I am a fan of anything and everything Jennifer Pharr Davis–and everything she writes. From

    Becoming Odyssa: Adventures on the Appalachian Trail


    Called Again: A Story of Love and Triumph

    , The Pursuit of Endurance, Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience does not disappoint. From the first word to the last, Jenn has a style that is equally captivating and compelling. She has an art for precisely describing not only the scenes she sees, but the emotions entwined therein.

    The Pursuit of Endurance is a look into the souls and psyches of such record setters as Warren Doyle, David Horton, Scott Williamson, Andrew Thompson, Heather Anderson, and Scott Jurek. Jennifer explores the backstories and circumstances of their lives, their motivations, hesitations, fears, and dreams. Jennifer invites each reader into their worlds of extraordinary efforts and accomplishments, all the while painting a picture of the humanity residing inside each corporeal entity. Astounding. Amazing. Nearly incomprehensible. The story telling is exquisite. The facts and figures mind-boggling.

    I found myself pulling in a deep breath as I closed the book I had just devoured. However, the beautiful platter of accomplishments that was served left me feeling a bit like the parsley; inconsequential and insignificant. And on some level, that’s okay. The reality is that most of us may never have the opportunity to even contemplate such records requiring incredible physical and logistical feats, pushing to the edge of possibility—and then beyond. But, the written words scribed so carefully open avenues in my crowded brain leading to a renewed embrace of adventure, and the courage to take the first step. So reader, beware. You just might begin thinking–and acting– differently once you pause and ponder the content of The Pursuit of Endurance.

  2. Jennifer Hill (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis does not disappoint in her third book. I could not wait to get my hands on her latest effort, and were it not for the demands of my family and job, I would have sat and read it straight thru. If you enjoyed her other books, you will love The Pursuit of Endurance. Jennifer Pharr Davis shares her story in her earlier books. This time around we get to delve into the lives of other fastest known time record holders, such as Warren Doyle, David Horton, and many others. I can’t recommend enough. A great read!

  3. Julie (verified owner)

    I love the history Jennifer Pharr Davis includes in this book–not just the history of completing the Appalachian Trail in the fastest time, but also the history of past record holders and how hiking distances quickly actually began thousands of years ago. As an Appalachian Trail hiker, speed is something I would never consider while hiking, but understanding the need to push limits and to see what I am capable of is something I totally understand. Speaking as an English Professor, I love the way this book is laid out and the way the story unfolds is wonderfully refreshing. It is not just another book about the AT, but about the experience of the journey.

  4. Burt Bradley (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis is my hero. In our age of cushion-squishing couch potatoes, she and the other people she writes about in this book are just the kind of heroes we need. She eloquently delivers a message that can inspire us and give us hope for a better way to live.

    Her book is filled with examples of people who set goals and persevere in spite of heartbreaking setbacks and challenges. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” I think what she and the others in this book have in common is courage, and their examples can help us to persevere with courage also.

    I also think that the people she writes about share a genuine love of hiking and the beautiful outdoors that our Creator has gifted us with.

    I am grateful Jennifer Pharr Davis has shared these wonderful stories with us, stories that can change our lives.

    Burt Bradley

  5. GO (verified owner)

    In The Pursuit of Endurance, Jennifer explores endurance through the journeys of those who have pushed their limits physically and mentally. She was able to successfully and succinctly identify, from their successes and failures, principles that transcend our daily lives and allow us to be the best version of ourselves. Along the way questions were inevitable and she dug for answers in the lives of human beings committed to endurance and its complexities.

    If one has not explored their own limits, then this book alone may not provide all the context needed to understand the personal journeys of endurance, including successes, failures, sacrifices, and rewards, illustrated in the book. I recommend reading all her books to better understand her own physical and mental growth in capacity for endurance, as well as her understanding of both.

    The last point she makes in the book is compelling and hopeful. “Endurance isn’t a human trait; it is THE human trait. We exist only as long as we persist. And there is confounding hope and limitless possibilities in our ability to rise up, change direction, and take one more step.”

  6. Alan Bialowas (verified owner)

    Book was purchased for my wife so this is her review.
    Once again JPD has written an amazing book. Not only is this her story of endurance but the story of how other thru-hikers, trail runners and most especially fastest known time holders endured life to accomplish various feats. Endurance isn’t just something you need to finish a trail but it is something you need for every day life and JPD gets this point across at least to me she does.
    Everytime I read something she has written rather it be book, blog or Facebook post it inspires me. As a casual day hiker JPD makes me want to push for more; though I know my body will not let me my brain at least is encouraged. Each new trail that I go on is an adventure and though I am highly scared of encountering a snake I just get out there and do it because JPD is a true inspiration and if she can accomplish the things she has done I can surely finish a short day hike.

  7. Justin Reilly (verified owner)

    I read JPD’s book in less than a week. I was captivated, and utterly impressed. Jennifer approaches her storytelling in a way that only a world class athlete can, with conviction and a perspective that only a world class athlete can offer. I was gifted a window into a seemingly impossible endeavor, her AT record, which was humbling, and simultaneously inspiring. She also offers us a glance at the lives of people who continue to inspire her. Being a trail-runner myself, this was a treat. It was a joy to read fresh narratives about some of my own athletic heroes – David Horton and Heather Anderson – and learn of a new hero – Scott Williamson.

    I must simply say that Jennifer’s book is a work of mesmerizing prose. The reader is hooked and not let go until the end. This can, in part, be attributed to her ability to weave together the many parts of a story that make a fascinating and complete narrative. It’s also due to the fact that Jennifer conveys humility throughout a story that could just as easily be built on bravado.

  8. Mama L (verified owner)

    With none of Scott’s self-importance, Jennifer’s style is personable and funny. She demystifies mythic characters in the endurance world moving their feats from unfathomable to inspiring. She has a unique talent for interviews. Reading it, you feel let into a very private world filled with characters who are fascinating, impressive, wacky, wise, and very much human. I couldn’t put it down.

    Jennifer draws connections between the obstacles the athletes have overcome in their personal lives and what they are able to accomplish on the trail. In doing so, she breaks down lessons in endurance into concrete take-aways I can use in my life. I’m not a distance hiker, yet I found myself inspired to push myself outside of my comfort zone and examine self-imposed limits on what I think is possible in my life.

    Like Jennifer, this book has so much heart.

    My favorite quote: When my husband and I are in the car and we pass a runner or walker on the sidewalk, it is natural for him to make comments about how fast or slow they’re going and what their stride looks like. My rule of thumb is that you never judge someone else’s pace or form, because you don’t know how far they’ve come and what they’re still planning to do.

    We all have our long trails, and most of them do not include much hiking or running. Outside the forest, our paths take the form of higher education, climbing out of debt, navigating a career, staying married, undergoing divorce, surviving tragedy, and coping with illness. It behooves us to not come to quick conclusions about other people’s paths and instead approach each individual with encouragement and compassion. We might be on different trails, but we are all midjourney.

  9. N. Thompson (verified owner)

    WOW- Whether you are a runner/hiker/trail enthusiast or none of those, this book offers entertainment, insights, hope, motivation and a GLORIOUS perspective on what it means to each of us to face challenges in our lives. “The journey” is truly the most critical part of our lives- whether hiking for FKT, recovering from a brain injury or just tying your shoes and getting out that door one more time. I was sad to finish this! I listened to the audiobook (read by Jennifer) and loved having “her beside me” on morning treks. Wonderful – Think I might start it all over and listen again.
    Thank you, Jennifer! The world is a nicer, kinder and STRONGER place with you in it.- Mitzi

  10. E.P. Clark (verified owner)

    If you enjoy reading stories of Shackleton’s attempt at reaching the South Pole, or of plucky horses like Seabiscuit who succeed against all odds, then chances are good you’ll enjoy Jennifer Pharr Davis’s “The Pursuit of Endurance.” If you are an avid hiker but fear the idea of a high-speed through-hike, you’ll probably love this book, even as you shake your head at the feats of endurance it chronicles. And if you’re contemplating attempting an FKT (Fastest Known Time) yourself, then obviously this is a must-read.

    For those of you who are wondering, an FKT is the fastest known time (because there’s no official measuring or record keeping body) that a hiker/runner has completed a long-distance trail such as the Appalachian Trail or the Pacific Crest Trail. This is not, as Pharr Davis discusses in some detail, an official sport, but a–hobby isn’t exactly the right word, but it’ll do for now–in which people try to cover hundreds or thousands of miles of trail as quickly as possible, often covering 40+ miles/day and sleeping only a couple of hours a night, purely for the sake of proving that it is possible to walk, say, the approximately 2200 miles of the AT in under 50 days.

    Pharr Davis, as a former holder of the AT’s FKT and the first woman to set its overall FKT, is eminently qualified to write this book. She goes into the history of the major US trails, the various record attempts that have been made, the psychology behind FKTs and endurance sports in general, and the personalities of those who set some of the recent FKTs on the big trails. She managed to score interviews with most of the recent FKT setters, including some generally elusive ones, and describes their hikes–and her own, of course.

    Indeed, for me personally the most interesting chapters were those about the FKTs set by women, including herself. While until recently it was assumed that women had no chance at keeping up with men, trailblazers like Heather Anderson and Pharr Davis herself have proven that that is not the case at all. In fact, after finishing the PCT for the first time with her boyfriend, Anderson “looked down at her washboard abs and strong legs, then she looked back at her gaunt boyfriend and took note. She surmised that women might be well suited–or even *better* suited–for long-distance travel than men.” While the jury is still out on that (although I tend to agree with Anderson), it is interesting to note that Pharr Davis mentions several times how her own main obstacles were mental: at first it simply didn’t occur to her to try an FKT, and then she assumed she had no chance of keeping up with the guys. After she set the overall AT record at 46 days, 11 hours, and 20 minutes, she worried that maybe she had left something on the table–after all, she walked rather than ran, and got considerably more sleep than most of the other, male, record-setters. When Scott Jurek beat her record by a mere three hours four years later, it was hard not to wonder “Should I have insisted on getting a full night’s sleep so often?” In any case, the experience of setting the FKT made Pharr Davis, she acknowledges, a “more outspoken feminist.” She felt at peace with what happened, though, and writes generously about Jurek’s successes and the troubles that being a celebrity athlete brought on him.

    This is a book by, for (sort of), and about endurance athletes, but non-athletes can certainly enjoy it as well. Pharr Davis has a warm yet polished writing style, interweaving historical background, the science of endurance, and personal anecdotes into a highly readable narrative that is enthralling for the long-distance hikers and couchbound alike.

  11. Erika Maguire (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis’ second book was such an insightful and empowering read! She’s so artfully woven the personal stories of other well-known hikers with her own pursuit of achieving a FTK on the Appalachian Trail, and also unpacked the drivers and motivations behind endurance. She explores the role of gender and is very honest about how she has struggled with the feeling of not belonging in the hiker community and even as a writer, but Jennifer, you so do.

    You’re such an inspiration to us all and a reminder of the incredible things people can accomplish with some grit, extreme dedication and of course, endurance. Having read her first book – Becoming Odyssa – a few years back (another great read!), I expected this book to have a similar format where she chronicles her day-to-experiences on the AT in detail. While she does that to some extent here, this book definitely has a different structure and broader goal, but it’s no less engaging or inspiring. She’s so descriptive, powerful and personable in her writing that you feel like you truly get to know her and all the individuals she so interestingly describes.

    Admittedly, I do wish she had spent a bit more time detailing her (and Heather Anderson’s) incredible feats just because there’s not a lot of content out there currently written for, or by, female hikers, but it was interesting to read about other well-known hikers like David Horton and Scott Williamson and what led them to pursue their individual goals as well as the challenges they faced along the way.

    Whether you’re a hiker or not though, this book is truly inspiring and encourages you to finally pursue that goal you’ve been putting off. As she says, “If you never fail, then you haven’t set your goals high enough.” This book is a healthy dose of humor, entertainment, insight and motivation. No matter where you are in your journey, as Jennifer shows, anything is possible so just take that first step and then keep going.

  12. Jill Cantafio (verified owner)

    Great insight and writing! Jennifer Pharr Davis’s writing captures the personalities well and makes them come to life within the pages. It’s enjoyable to hear from those that have achieved such accomplishments!

  13. Dennis Ley (verified owner)

    Love this book! Summary – she profiles and explores numerous personalities who have engaged and accomplished endurance events such as trail hiking and ultra-running. I found myself identifying with some of the character traits. And in the end, I was inspired to reach down deeper and accomplish greater things than I have yet set out to conquer. Another aspect I love about this author: she is not a celebrity athlete writing to promote herself, her products, her social media, her affiliated charities, nor her sponsors. This book delivers on its title: pursuit of endurance.

  14. Robert W. Morse II (verified owner)

    Jennifer’s writing chops really shine in this book. This was not what I was expecting it to be. She takes us inside the world of endurance athletes. We get to meet some amazing people and read little snippets of their life stories.

  15. NatureGirl (verified owner)

    This is the first time some of the personal stories of FKT athletes are told, and the very special thing about this book is that they are told through the heart of someone who has been there herself. The hiking community is small, and for many years I’ve heard names like Scott Williamson, Heather Anderson, Scott Jurek, Jennifer Pharr Davis, Liz Thomas. It makes sense that they all know each other. because their experiences create a bond only they can understand. Jen writes about these friends after visiting them, sitting down with them, and hearing their personal accounts over dinner, while walking on trails, and even summiting peaks together. Her own humility in wanting to learn opened doors for her to tell about events that might never have been brought to light if not for her own search as an endurance athlete.

    Some of the names in this book are familiar from reading Jen’s previous books about her own journey on the AT, but this time you really feel like you get to know Warren Doyle and David Horton in a more personal way. So many of the hikers who have managed to set FKTs on America’s long trails are men, and I found myself wishing more women could accomplish this too. But then I had to stop and remind myself that a strong, powerful woman who set an FKT wrote this book. By the time I got to the chapter about Heather Anderson, I was ready to stand up and cheer. The really beautiful thing about all these stories, and about Jen being the one to write them, is that she is boldly saying that women do not need to be bound by gender when it comes to accomplishing physical pursuits that are typically dominated by men. “Once I set the FKT, I was a stronger, more outspoken feminist. I was finally at the point where I believed that my ability was of equal value, and it took feeling like an equal for me to realize that I wasn’t always being treated like one. I had to walk more than ten thousand miles and set a record to dispel the gender bias I had accepted – the one that society, media, and the marketplace present, overtly and subconsciously, on a daily basis.” In the end, endurance isn’t a gender issue.

    It felt like the writing of this book was a search to find the thing that makes endurance athletes unique. In the life of each person profiled there is some hardship they have to overcome, an inner drive that keeps them asking more and more of themselves. There are character traits that are similar, dedication and grit. But in the end, endurance is part of our humanity, the constant quest for inner strength. Maybe you won’t be the one to set an FKT on a national trail, but perhaps there will be a personal mountain you will conquer.

    As a hiker reading this book, I got the jolt of inspiration that I needed. I want to wake up earlier, hit the trail harder, push myself to achieve more. Working a desk job and being a cog in corporate life does so much to strip the soul of meaning. While some in this book were able to leave careers and pursue a different life, many of us feel the weight of responsibility and are unable to leave at a moment’s notice. And that’s ok too because we’re all on our own path. But, we can still be inspired to live fuller, more passionate lives outside of the daily grind.

    “Hiking is not escapism; it’s realism. The people who choose to spend time outdoors are not running away from anything; we are returning to where we belong.”

  16. jason a linkous (verified owner)

    I got to meet her and hear about this book right before it came out. I had read her first book and really liked it and have always recommended it.
    This book is really good and I’m listening to is on Audible in the car. The nice thing is she actually narrates it an giving that sole that many books miss with a voice actor.
    The book is more about what it takes to do these big FTKs than about the event itself. You really get a feel for what these people go through to be able to accomplish the task. You also learn what it is like for those supporting them both on trail and back home.

  17. Abby McAllister (verified owner)

    By all accounts I am the most average of athletes. The longest I’ve run is a mere 10 miles, and the longest I’ve hiked is less than a week. So, when I saw that Jennifer Pharr Davis, a world class athlete, had written a book titled “Endurance”, I wondered if much that she had written would apply to me or hold my interest. However, once I started reading, I found it hard to put this book down.

    The author once hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, over 2,100 miles, in just 46 days. That amounts to 47 miles per day on average, and she held the record for the Fastest Known Time for 4 years. The record has been beaten now a few times, but not by much, and in this book she sets out to provide the backstory of the various record holders in an attempt to find commonality and glean some lessons learned about what it is in the human soul that makes such accomplishments, such feats of endurance, possible. The results are fascinating, and not a little bit surprising.

    After meeting many of the luminaries in the world of “Fastest Known Times” for the nation’s longest trails, what is striking about them is not their similarities but rather their dramatic differences. Each is an individual with a unique story to tell, and the author tells these stories in a way that is introspective at times and insightful always. I sort of expected the book to be a summary of what the latest science has to say about nutrition, training, preparation, etc., and how it could be applied to weekend warrior athletes like myself. What I found instead is that endurance has much more to do with the human spirit, and that its lessons and applications can be applied not just to my fleeting athletic endeavors, but much more to the inevitable ups and downs that life will throw our way. Each of the athletes in this book has had their own life struggles to deal with and found answers on these long trails that helped them overcome and lead better lives. In reading about them you will come to see not how different from them you are, but how similar. And in reading about their lives, challenges, and accomplishments, you are sure to find something in there that inspires you and encourages you to endure on your own long journey of life.

  18. Ronald A. Blome (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis shared her love of Long Distance Hiking on the Appalachian Trail in her 2010 book “Becoming Odyssa” offering unabashed insights into her trial and error filled first long hike. In two other books – “Called Again” and “46-Days” we learn that long distance hiking has become a life’s work and obsession. In “The Pursuit of Endurance” we learn that Davis has become quite an accomplished story teller as well. Here she shares with us the personal stories of a handful of other similarly obsessed long distance runners and trekkers. The common thread is the theme of the book — “The Pursuit of Endurance”. Why do these people push themselves to such extremes? Walking the length of the continent across deserts and mountain ranges and doing it in record times — or upon finishing the trek north — only to turn around and do it again back south and at a record pace. And just to make these tales interesting, we learn that one hiker carries a bullet lodged near his spine from an armed robbery, and another races with a leg that was once crushed in a job related accident. Nothing seems to stop these athletes who carry forward — just because they can. While Davis probes the mind-set of the athletes who accomplish a FKT – Fastest Know Times – those of us who feel satisfied with a good day hike can still find satisfaction reading these great tales of outdoor adventure and triumph.

  19. Montana hiker (verified owner)

    When I saw the announcement for this book release, I wondered how it could possibly be very different from Jennifer’s earlier book about her 2011 FKT hike of the Appalachian Trail, Called Again. Called Again is a wonderful book–what more could Jennifer possibly have to say about the physical and mental challenges of a speed hike?

    Hah! I should have known better. This is a fantastic book, a must-read for an Appalachian Trail obsessive, like me, and for runners and hikers. For The Pursuit of Endurance Jennifer interviewed many of the most interesting AT FKT record holders–interviewed in depth, hiked with, and asked nonstandard, thoughtful, insightful questions. What sparked their interest in human-powered travel? How did they arrive at the starting point of their FKT hikes? How many unsuccessful attempts preceded the successful completion? (The answers will surprise you.) Did they experience setbacks? (Well, yeah.) What kept them going? Are FKT hikers/runners basically alike?

    For good measure she also bounced ideas off a sports psychologist and a sports physiologist, getting their study- and observation-based input on what enables people to go above and beyond.

    She also asks the question–above and beyond what? At the most basic level, who and what are the competition? Is an FKT a stunt? Or is endurance a crucial part of living a good life?

    Jennifer is so quotable I could share dozens of inspirational lines from this book, but I will leave you with one:
    “…I remind myself that sometimes you are so consumed by the task at hand that you don’t realize you are on your way to accomplishing something amazing.” (p. 203)

  20. Michael Campbell (verified owner)

    If you are interested in endurance pursuits, hiking, or human potential, this is a must read. I met Jennifer in Birmingham right before the release of the book. She is just as friendly and gracious as she appears to be in the pages of her book. The Pursuit of Endurance gives the real story behind the drive to set an FKT and the athletes who accomplished them. Jennifer was able to ask the right questions and portray the subject matter in a passionate and engaging manner because of her personal experience as an FKT record holder.

    This was an interesting, engaging, and fascinating book. But be warned, it is dangerous. You will find yourself planning adventures that you may not have considered before reading it.

  21. BobNC (verified owner)

    Ms. Davis is an excellent writer, her story is captivating and enlightening. I enjoyrd Becoming Odyessa and this book was just as good.

  22. kayte brown (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis is a supreme story teller. In Pursuit, she undertakes the challenge of telling the careful and rich stories of the women and men who have sought Fastest Known Times on the AT and and PCT. With each character, she paints a unique story of the motivation, failure, and success of pursuing an FKT on America’s National Senic Trails. Being an FKT holder herself, she’s able to weave the stories together and give some insight of how and why a person would take on a challenge that many think crazy and out of reach.

  23. TexanForever (verified owner)

    Easy reading.

  24. Aubeee (verified owner)

    I’m only on chapter 1 and it’s already a great book!! Can barley put it down. Fast shipping as well on the fastest shipping option!

  25. Mark and Ginny (verified owner)

    As a road warrior of a different sort, I really enjoyed Jennifer’s company for the journey as well as her insightful approach to unraveling the unique mindset of endurance athletes on their quest. She masters telling stories of humanity with a tenderness and honesty that can only come as a result of her own deep experience with the subject matter and excellent research. There are so many lessons that pertain to every day life, and Jennifer make’s them accessible to the ‘wanna-be’ athlete, non-athlete, and weekend warrior alike. An inspirational, enjoyable and educational read. I am not always a fan of author narrated audio books, but in this case I found her voice easy to listen to and authentic.

  26. RM (verified owner)

    Thoroughly enjoyed. Different than what I originally expected, but loved the history and insight into some of the other FKT holders on the AT.

  27. TMG-BERG (verified owner)

    I savored every bit of this book, taking a couple of months to read it slowly and deliberately. Jennifer is both a remarkable athlete and a incredibly gifted and compelling story-teller and author. This book is a fascinating insight into the lives of folks who are bound together by pursuits which test the very outer limits of the human experience and yet Jennifer is careful to craft a read which beautifully exposes the realness and rawness of their lives – both successes and failures. I appreciated that Jennifer never makes any part of the book about herself (although she easily and justifiably could have), but that she endeavors to lift others up throughout it. “The Pursuit of Endurance” is an uplifting and affirming book about perseverance, resilience, grit, faith, determination and love. And I absolutely loved it.

  28. pnwmom (verified owner)

    While I love hiking/backpacking and can walk many more miles than the average person, the nuts-and-bolts of distance hiking is NOT what I got out of this book. Many average people are working hard each day at their own “endurance” activities– new parents, care givers, students… Jennifer does a great job showing the diversity of personal stories for the people that have set the Fastest Known Times on the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Thru the stories, she shows that it isn’t the food you eat, the amount of sleep you get, the support you have (or don’t have), but some inner drive that they each had to keep putting one foot in front of the other. With that all said, there are changes that these people have made that have helped them reach their goals. I highly recommend this to anyone that likes to push their limits and wants to grow to be their best self.

  29. S. hale (verified owner)

    Great book about endurance. A history of some of the best trail runners ever and plenty of stories on just hiking.
    I learned more than I could have hoped, one libe jumps out at me.”the story of humanity is one of constant forward movement “
    That line alone should get you off the couch and out in the world.
    Go take a walk, a stroll, a run or sprint, but buy this book, and it will help you get out of the house and show yourself what you’re capable of, just by putting one foot in front of the other one.
    Well done Jennifer, you are an inspiration !

  30. Henry (verified owner)

    This book was an excellent read. I have been an Appalachian Trail hiker and enthusiast for several years, but only a casual follower of the world of FKTs. This book takes an interesting look at several FKT-holders and what makes them tick. Each one has a fascinating story, and Jennifer tells those stories well.

  31. stprsn (verified owner)

    I’ve often wondered what it takes to participate in some of these long endurance challenges and this book explains it’s so much more than just a physical element. Being in shape obviously makes it easier but wow…you gotta really want it!! Great book.

  32. Debra Rezeli (verified owner)

    It is only appropriate that I should finish Jennifer’s book the night before I set out for my own endurance adventure. Her stories of perseverance through self-inflicted challenges are both inspiring and humbling. As I face my own day-to-day struggles during my journey, I hope to find comfort when remembering her words. While this book is obviously great for outdoor athletes and enthusiasts, it also applies to everyone as we are all creatures of endurance.

  33. lisa mahaffey (verified owner)

    This was an amazing book! I could not put it down. I have read 2 other books by Jennifer which were also page turners and I must say, she is one of the best storytellers and talented authors that I have come across in a while! Pursuit of Endurance gave me the drive and motivation I needed to get on with my own endeavors and the encouragement I needed to succeed at my own goals. Some of her writing is so quote-worthy I found myself posting little reminders from her book around my house! As I finished this book (in less than a week) I found myself hoping she will write another gem in the near future! If you are needing inspiration, motivation, and a push to go after your own dreams, you won’t be disappointed as this book delivers all of this and so much more! Thank you Jennifer!

  34. John Rodrigue (verified owner)

    Great book

  35. ted Greenberg (verified owner)

    Hard to believe the writer of this original and beautiful work is also a world class athlete. Discovering the work of anthropologist Marjorie Shostak made it worth the read alone. A great antidote to “Born to run.” Wish the print version was indexed.

  36. Scott W. Kummer (verified owner)

    I found this book to be a really great read. Great insight into the trail and the people that conquer it. Perspective on FKT’s over the years. Honesty. Authentic. I couldn’t put it down.

  37. T. Gregg (verified owner)

    I really enjoyed this book. I have read all of Jennifer Pharr Davis’ books, but I liked this one the most. This book explored what it took to be a record breaking endurance athlete. I am not a record breaking athlete, but the idea that you can go beyond what you think is possible for yourself is true for everyone. Every athlete she wrote about was different in almost everyway except for that they were all passionate people. The interesting thing I found was that many speed hikers of the Appalachian Trail are accused of missing the point of hiking the Trail because they are going so fast, but all of those she wrote about were avid hikers when not going for a record and they could only do the things that they did because of their constant training outdoors and their real love of nature and wilderness.

  38. Jillian W (verified owner)

    This book hits me just like Jennifer’s first book, Becoming Odyssa, did. It tells individual stories of hikers and ultra runners who set FKTs and the science behind it all. While it tells the stories and shares data, Pharr Davis writes so beautifully and brings these people to life. It is an easy and fast read because you become enthralled with these interesting peoples lives. Couldn’t put it down and can’t wait for her next one!

  39. Kara Richardson (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis not only inspires with her feats on the trails but also her amazing work on the page. This book is another example of how she pursues excellence in herself and others. I promise this book will make you want to go the distance in your own life.

  40. Colleen (verified owner)

    The Pursuit of Endurance is an inside look at exactly what it means to be a long distance athlete. Through in depth interviews, personal experience, and guided research, Jennifer takes you through the physical pain and mental hurdles record holders overcome to accomplish their goals, both on and off the trail. Every FKT athlete brings different techniques to their hike, but one thing they all seem to agree on is that harnessing the power of endurance is crucial for reaching your long term goals. Jennifer makes it clear that even the most prestigious FKT title holders have dealt with their fair share of failure. Their strength and resilience in spite of these hardships have made them the accomplished athletes that they are today, and should inspire us to do the same.

    Jennifer has filled the pages of the book with loads of advice and inspiration, making it a must-read for anyone wanting to start working at the big dreams they have up their sleeves. Her relatable and down-to-earth writing style, paired with her extensive experience make it hard to read her book and not become inspired to immediately start working towards your goals. If you’re planning a thru hike, or finding the confidence to get started on any big dream you have up your sleeve, this book is a must read. It will give you the boost you need to get a jumpstart on training and fuel your future endeavors long after you turn the last page.

  41. Lindsay E Dowell (verified owner)

    I love this author, her style of writing, her determination, and bravery.

  42. Nathan J. Mcneill (verified owner)

    In the traditional story of athletic accomplishment, the unlikely hero overcomes immense personal and physical hardships through a serpentine series of events to triumph over his opponents, claiming the olive wreath amid crowds of enraptured fans.

    Pursuit of Endurance is a collection of these stories but with a few twists. Firstly, when the hero arrives at the finish line, he may find himself alone – himself the only one present to applaud. Secondly, instead of besting an opponent, the only way to put in 30, 40, or even 50 miles a day for weeks on end is to best oneself. There is competition, sure, but competition appears differently when the competitors might never meet and when their efforts are separated by months or even years. Thirdly the hero might be a heroine, with the top times for America’s long distance trails alternately going to women as well as men.

    In a day and age when almost every activity has its list of celebrities, it is intriguing to hear the story behind why and how a handful of people walked and ran their way into the record books with very little fanfare. Hiking is a participant (rather than a spectator) sport, and so this is, perhaps only natural. This lack of grandstands makes Jennifer Pharr Davis’ book all the more enjoyable as she allows us to follow alongside people whom we’ve never heard of accomplishing what we never thought possible.

    Davis herself is in a good position to guide us. She is not quite a journalist, not exactly the mold of an elite athlete, not your garden variety soccer mom. One gets the feeling from the book that she is comfortable in her own skin, but not entirely content. It is this disquiet that drove her to set the overall record on the Appalachian Trail and that also drives her inquisitiveness through the pages of the book. What am I capable of? Why push yourself to near collapse when there’s no audience or prize? What part do others play in your own endurance? Is endurance internal or external? Physical or mental or spiritual? Is choosing to toss out the societal rule book which says women come in second the same as tossing out the societal rule book which says women who come in first shouldn’t choose marriage and children? If you accomplish your goal and set the record then what does it mean? Why does endurance matter if the end is not defined?

    At the heart of the book, running like a thread through the various individual stories, is the simple truth that each record is only a proxy – a frame superimposed atop the landscape of endurance allowing us to see its structure but not its entirety. This, as Davis suggests, is good news because it leaves open the possibility that the greatest feats of endurance (our own and those of others) are as yet in progress but may never be bracketed by a title or a record.

    Both the tree falling in the forest and the person walking in the forest are in the same predicament. The Pursuit of Endurance, however, allows us to listen in on the latter and what you hear is remarkable.

  43. Michael Cyrocki (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis uses her story and the stories of other long trail athletes to promote outdoor recreation. The Pursuit of Endurance shows anyone with a shred of interest, how hiking and backpacking is independent of gender, age, physical fitness and money. Hurrah for her authentic voice, persuasivness, and good writing. As she says, “…if you ever find yourself feeling misplaced in our modern American culture there are other options. Hiking long trails and existing on very little income is a viable alternative. Traveling the world to pursue adventure and explore unmarked terrain can provide more satisfaction than living out the American Dream.” That counts as helpful information useful to nearly everyone. I’m pretty sure, it’s better to have fun yourself than to watch others, on TV or otherwise, having fun. And long trails are a resource for fun. During the reading of her book, I looked up ‘National Scenic Trail System’. For this category of trail, there are eleven with the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Continental Divide trails being the best known. These long trails are wonderful resources for outdoor recreation. They can be used for day hikes, thru-hikes, and for pursuit of time records. It’s all good. I now see myself as an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker starting this Spring. Many things are possible.

  44. Lydia Bobo (verified owner)

    What an amazing book! I am far from an endurance athlete. I am a mom of 3 young children whose main source of exercise is lifting toddlers in and out of cribs and carseats. But, this book has so much more than hiking strategy. Jennifer provides wisdom and insight into all aspects of life and society today. I found myself wanting to underline and copy quotes from the book to post around my house. Jennifer is a beautiful writer and is as gifted in prose as she is on the trial. I would recommend this book to anyone!

  45. DanV (verified owner)

    Fantastic. Being a hiker I loved hearing the personal interviews of all the endurance athletes! Not a hiker? I still highly recommend this book! I am currently sidelined from hiking with some health struggles and this book encouraged me even in that “endurance event.” JPD brought me to tears with this particular statement: “Endurance isn’t the ability to overcome pain; it is the ability to embrace it with no end in sight.” Read this book. If you are a hiker it will inspire you. If you are not a hiker it will inspire you. But if you are finding yourself amidst an endurance event (relationship, health, addiction, etc) this book will not only inspire, it will encourage, and it will allow you to feel surrounded by others who are pursuing endurance in the struggles they face. You are not alone. That is a message we all need to hear! Thank you for sharing your story with us JPD!

  46. E. Johnson (verified owner)

    This is another great book from Jennifer Pharr Davis. It’s an inspiring read for any hiker, trail runner, nature lover, or outdoor enthusiast. Jennifer Pharr Davis has the gift of educating us on the history and record breakers on the AT, PCT, and other trails, but she doesn’t just stop with the facts. She goes the extra mile to seek out the record holders personally and find out about them – their journey and how their past affected who they are today. It is a beautifully written documentary that gives homage to the people that have come before Jenn’s record breaking hike on the AT and those that broke the record after her. She recognizes and respects the differences between each record holder. Her writing has a wonderful personal touch that makes you not want to put the book down, and I echo several other reviewers that elude to the book being personable and funny – so right on the mark. Even though I am not a “hard core” hiker or trail runner, I felt challenged after reading the book to push my own endurance and follow my personal goals. I highly recommend this book for you or anyone in your life that loves the trail or just loves a great read.

  47. Phillip Toomasian (verified owner)

    As a successful thru-hiker I am known to be rather good at walking. Jennifer Pharr Davis’s writing very much humbled me as I read through the accounts of atheletes that have hiked up to fifty times as many miles as I have. Jennifer Davis not only portrays the intense discipline of record holders in long distance hiking, but she brilliantly exemplifies the sheer humanity and stories to be told of these FKTers. This book is an example that record setters (as astounding their feats may be) are human being. Seeing the beauty of human action and character is one of the most renowned motifs of long distance hiking and or running, which makes this book a true testament to the realities of trails like AT, PCT and other long distance paths

  48. Taylor Dobbs (verified owner)

    Pharr Davis writes this book almost as a reporter would, using her personal experience in FKT setting to enrich the prose and underline the findings of her curiosity about what makes people push themselves to complete feats of endurance. She brings no ego and doesn’t ask readers to take her word for it because she’s been there – the book traces everything she knows about endurance sports back to its origins. Pharr Davis does a wonderful job of telling the stories of those who mentored her, and of what their teachings did for her. She’s not afraid to disagree, but she also never comes across as judgmental. I highly recommend this for anyone who struggles with self-doubt – whether the goal is hiking the Appalachian Trail in record time or pushing through a period of depression, you’ll find something useful here.

  49. Julia Jordan (verified owner)

    I love reading this! I enjoy spending time in the hiking world and the running world and this book was really interesting to see where these worlds overlap and some of their differences. Also, it was fascinating to hear details about the other athletes’ stories. Amazing how on her first hike JPD encountered so many of these individuals- the stars were aligned! This is a really enjoyable and educating read!

  50. AT BirdMan (verified owner)

    Whether you are an AT veteran, a wana-be, a stay-at-home armchair adventurer, or an FKT aspirant, this book belongs on your bookshelf. In addition to being an outstanding endurance athlete (not to mention entrepreneur, inspirational speaker, prodigious trail traveler, and mom), Jennifer Pharr Davis is a great writer. Weaving her own FKT (fastest known time) experience along with the stories of those who came before and after in that pursuit, Davis gives us a window into the deeper motivations and personal stories of those who have chosen to challenge themselves by walking (or running) the iconic Appalachian Trail in record time.

    A 2002 AT thru hiker myself, who has also had the pleasure of attending a JFD talk, and enjoy a continuing relationship with the AT and other long distance hiking trails, I want to encourage you to step into this fascinating world. Then lace up your shoes and go take a hike.

  51. Tiffany Rogers (verified owner)

    I loved her first book about her personal journey on the AT. This one giving the interviews and information about record holders and adventurers before her is captivating and so informative, not to mention very well written! I want to go hike the AT now, bears be damned! Read it, you won’t be disappointed!

  52. Robin (verified owner)

    This was an interesting examination of FKTs on the AT and PCT, and what record-holding hikers have in common and how they’re different. I especially liked the chapter on failure and, ironically, found it to be the most inspiring. I will never earn a FKT, but I know I can set myself a tough goal with a large chance of failure and push myself to see what happens.

    I also really enjoyed reading the chapter about Heather Anderson after reading her book Thirst. It offered a different view of Anderson and made me admire her even more.

    “If you never fail, then you haven’t set your goals high enough.”

  53. Patrick Writz (verified owner)

    Really inspiring! Great stories about the people behind great feats of endurance. I hope to get on the AT this December when I’m on vacation because this book put it on my radar.

  54. Jordan T. Kit (verified owner)

    I just took a three week trip with my wife and one of the two books I had figured would take up my whole trip was Becoming Odyssa. I ripped through it in two days, and was instantly hooked on her incisive writing and captivated by the AT. The next chance I had to hit a bookstore, I bought The Pursuit of Endurance. There was one copy left that I was glad to scoop after listening to her interview on TJM and wanting to learn about the lineage of the AT FKTs, having read a decent bit about recent attempts. Jennifer Pharr Davis is a stellar writer, and her expertise on the AT makes her a tremendous vector for exploring the history of the AT FKTs and more.

  55. R. B. (verified owner)

    “Endurance is not measured by someone’s first steps, it is measured by her last step.” ❤️

    Both a biography of many of the FKT record holders on the AT and also a deep dive into Jennifer’s journey, her relationship with these fellow endurance athletes and friends, and an attempt to dig into the psyche of a group of athletes that have success (and failure) in reaching their goals. What can we learn from the way each of these women and men see life and strive to accomplish their goals and dreams? Why do we run? Why do we pursue hard things? In the end, running or hiking or pursuing our goals for ourselves is more valuable than doing it for fame. Endurance is a journey and you have to be prepared for the ups and downs, the heights and the depths. Know you can stick with it through the lows and be rewarded with the glorious highs.

    There are so many moments in this book that I have found personally encouraging and challenging. I loved listening to the audiobook, but I think I’m also going to buy a physical copy so I can read it again and highlight sections that particularly stand out.

    I love the idea of find your own personal mantra, something short and catchy that you can chant to yourself when times are though. Also, I plan on making it a goal to start each morning with a statement of positivity – I believe her when she says it leads to a happier day and happier life.

    Something I struggle with is being okay with failure, but part of the key to success is being willing to risk failure by pushing yourself farther than you know you can go. How do we know how much we can accomplish if we’re not reaching past our known limits? To paraphrase Jennifer, if you’re not failing, your goals aren’t high enough. “Don’t be afraid of failure. Endurance is failure after failure after failure.” “Endurance is consistently telling yourself that it is going to be okay, regardless of the immediate circumstances and past events. It’s okay to fall short. It’s okay to let people down. It’s okay to hurt and suffer. It’s okay to stop when you can’t go any farther. But don’t give up on yourself, your goals, or the people around you.”

    I would encourage everyone to pick up a copy of this book, whether you’re a runner or a hiker, or just someone looking to expand your mind and see what dreams you can push towards. The audiobook is really excellent, by the way – it’s read by the author, and at the end there is a really sweet and folksy song written and performed by Jennifer’s husband called “I’ll Climb the Mountain With You.” Aww.

  56. AKmom (verified owner)

    It’s rare when a person has an incredible story AND they are a great writer. This book is well written and funny while also being inspiring and informative. The stories & interviews with other FKT athletes are moving and insightful. Her writing is humble and empathetic. Read it today!

  57. Taking the Long Way Home<span class="a-icon a-profile-verified-badge"><span class="a-profile-verified-text"></span></span> (verified owner)

    Jennifer Pharr Davis, author, National Geographic Adventurer of the year, and record holder of the fastest-known time on the Appalachian Trail for four years –her record was broken by Scott Jurek, whose book North details his Appalachian Trail run– shares stories of feats of endurance as well as her own story in the very engaging The Pursuit of Endurance. I expected The Pursuit of Endurance to be Pharr Davis’ story, but instead, she shares her story along with the stories of many others who have inspired her. Interspersed throughout the book are tips and advice to guide the reader to developing endurance as well as mental toughness. She believes and espouses that anyone who really wants to do can push themselves farther than they think.

    Pharr Davis is mentored by mostly male endurance athletes and her book reads like a who’s who of ultradistance athletes. Warren Doyle, David Horton, Scott Jurek, and Andrew Thompson are some of the ultradistance athletes that she mentions in The Pursuit of Endurance. Some of these men mentored her–others were influential in her journey. I’ve heard how tight-knit the ultra community is and by all accounts, these runners support each other and celebrate victories, even when records of their own are broken.

    I found The Pursuit of Endurance to be immensely readable and interesting. Pharr Davis is a prolific writer and at times I lost myself in the adventures shared on the pages. I’m not an ultrarunner nor do I desire to be one, but I do find inspiration in the stories of runners, particularly women, who push themselves to attempt endeavors that the average person wouldn’t dream of. As an aside, Pharr Davis was pregnant when she finished her FKT attempt. It seems the sky is the limit for women and it will be exciting to see what the next generation of young women do in the world of endurance events.

    Pharr Davis ends the book with thoughts on the future of endurance and the pursuit of the FKT in the era of more athletes pursuing records, the use of GPS, and the honesty of athletes. She shares what she’s learned from her fellow trail runners. She reminds her readers to continue to move forward.

  58. PDA (verified owner)

    Endurance in the context of life was eye opening. What Jennifer has written impacted me in profound ways. I cannot wait to get on a trail.

  59. Marie C (verified owner)

    I really liked this book. I read Becoing Odyssa and really like that as well. If your into Appalachian Trail history I highly recommend it.

  60. Rachel (verified owner)

    Highly recommend book. Written very well. I love learning about people I never heard of that are so remarkable. Your a wonderful women.

  61. Ellen Brown (verified owner)

    Well done, I rarely reread books but this is one of those that I’ll pickup again. Great for guys and gals but especially young women. Goes beyond athletics, life lessons on enduring.

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