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

4.01  ·  Rating details ·  845 ratings  ·  117 reviews
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
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published April 10th 2018 by Viking
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Average rating 4.01  · 
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Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Jennifer Pharr Davis‘ latest book The Pursuit of Endurance: Harnessing the Record-Breaking Power of Strength and Resilience is an inside look into the world of the FKT (fastest known time) and the athletes who accomplish these incredible feats of endurance. What personal challenges did they overcome in the effort to be the fastest and the best? Is endurance merely an athletic trait, or does it apply to humanity as a whole? Are women able to compete with the men in such endeavors?

This is the firs
Aug 28, 2018 rated it liked it

I jumped in really hoping to get a feel for what it was like to hike or set an FKT. Instead, I received a set of loosely connected interviews with famous hikers or runners that glossed over the most interesting part: the actual hiking. Instead, it felt like a series of not very interesting biographies of very interesting people. The book touches on the science of long distance hiking and the gender imbalance, but all too briefly. It jumps around too much and ends up focu
Dec 23, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2018, sports, running, travel
I enjoyed the author's stories of her own life and hike, but from the book blurb, I thought I'd learn more about endurance. Many of the personal stories of the men who hiked the trail and the trail controversies weren't interesting to me and I got tired of all the swearing. I think it would be better with more endurance and hiking information. ...more
Dec 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are looking for a travelogue of hiking the Appalachian Trail this might not be the book for you. If, on the other hand, you would like to know why some people undertake such punishing tasks this is a must read. Hiking thousands of miles as fast as you can--why? As the author points out, that question is related to George Mallory's response to why climb Everest: "because it's there". A simple answer that's hard to understand.

Pharr Davis gives us insight into what makes these Fastest Known
Sarah Sherwin
Feb 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I was recommended to read this by regular at my job who said it was powerful, thought provoking, and inspirational. He was so right. I’ll have to let this one sit for a while. Jennifer Pharr Davis is a true endurance queen and writes a beautiful depiction of her own life failures and accomplishments and those of the other endurance athletes she’s learned from. I’m left inspired to pursue the things that bring me joy and invite in the possibility of failure. Especially in a sports world dominated ...more
Ron S
National Geographic Adventurer of the Year and past record holder of the FKT on the Appalachian Trail, Jennifer Pharr Davis (JPD) explores endurance in this fascinating read. Part memoir, part character study of ultra-runners, thru-hikers, FKT record breakers and the latest theories and methodologies of humans pushing themselves to do that which doesn't seem possible. The character studies of people like David Horton, Heather Anderson and Warren Doyle are worth the price of the book (I had the g ...more
Nate Hawthorne
Aug 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
I know, another book by a hiker about the Appalachian Trail. But this one covers it from a different angle. Ms. Davis interviewed many past holders of the FKT (fastest known time) on the trail and other trails. She was looking to gain perspective on the personalities of endurance hikers/runners to see if they have any common traits. Funny how none of these books about the trials and tribulations of being in the trail have deterred my fascination with wanting to hike it. I probably wouldn't go fo ...more
Samar Dahmash Jarrah
Jul 11, 2018 rated it really liked it
Kept me going while on the stepper and cycling....
Jul 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book made a home in my favorites list. What a gem! A read full of adventure and metaphors for living life.
Ginget Poulton
Sep 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Really good
Amazing/interesting how much self doubt she had and expressed

Neat profiles of all the other folks with FKTs
Sharon Orlopp
Dec 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing insight into setting BHAG's (big, hairy audacious goal) and having the focus and discipline to make the impossible achievable. Very inspiring! ...more
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew I wanted to read this book, but I took advantage of the opportunity to listen to Jenn read it herself as I drove through the Blue Ridge Mountains. As a long time follower of Jenn, I am really pleased at how much her writing has matured over time. In this book she explores what common threads help support endurance, especially athletes who have held FKTs (fastest known time) records on the Appalachian trail. Sometimes the scope of the book would widen to things outside this focus, but alwa ...more
Jul 28, 2019 rated it liked it
I read this book after reading the grand adventure of “Thirst” by Heather Andersen. Heather wrote a book about setting a “Fastest Known Time” record for men and women on the PCT. So when my local library presented this summer’s read “The Pursuit of Endurance” complete with author events of the woman who set the FKT on the Appalachian Trail, I figured it would be similar to the epic journey novel of Thirst. It was not.

This book was not necessarily about Jennifer’s quest, it about others who came
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
In this book we get to know Jennifer’s journey towards pursuing the FKT, but also provides insight into the experiences of a lot of the other recent FKT-holders and big figures within the Appalachian Trail community. I really loved this book not only because Jennifer is a unique in being a female who held the FKT, but also because she can share her insight of actually having experienced the journey when telling the story of others.

An underlying theme throughout the book definitely included Jenni
Laura Westmeyer
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Linda Emerson
Recommended to Laura by: Robert Westmeyer
Shelves: endurance
Fantastic book. I had originally started reading it thinking it would be a motivating endurance athlete stories/memoir-type read, but it really wasn't like that at all. It's more of a book about the history and evolution of FKTs and the people to hold those titles for various trails, obviously focused on the Appalachian Trail in particular. She also gets into the "unwritten rules" about FKTs (part of the evolution of FKT idea) and that was a very intriguing aspect of the book.

Jennifer Pharr Dav
Oct 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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 derp dove 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? Wh
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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 t ...more
Meilee Anderson
I recently read Heather Anderson’s “Thirst” which created in me a thirst for more books written by bold trailblazing women. When I saw the cover of “The Pursuit of Endurance” by Jennifer Pharr I picked it up without hesitation. My eyes caught one glimpse of Jennifer frozen in mid-stride on a rugged trail with the word “ENDURANCE” blazing above her in all caps. It called to me. I was in! Give me this book!

Once again, I didn’t read the jacket. I didn’t realize what I was in for until I finished th
Jill Geyer
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
When I first picked up this book, I thought it was going to be a memoir of Jennifer Pharr Davis' journey on and leading up to the trail. Instead, I found out, she delivers a bunch of anecdotes and histories of past and present people who have set Fastest Known Times (FKT's) on the AT and PCT.

She sets out on a quest to identify what binds endurance athletes together, and what sets them apart. What you find out while reading is that people who complete the trail do so out of intrinsic motivations
Jul 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: running, memoir
I really enjoyed this book, because so much of it spoke to me as a (very amateur and slow) endurance athlete. Jennifer Pharr Davis broke the overall FKT (Fastest Known Time) record on the Appalachian Trail in 2011, and held on to it for four years, until Scott Jurek, arguably one of the most legendary ultra runners on the planet, broke her record in 2015 by only three hours. Pharr Davis isn't nearly as well-known as Jurek is, and her record-setting hike did was not received with nearly the amoun ...more
May 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
While this book contained some interesting elements, I found the repetitive reiteration that almost all FKT record makers/breakers she knows believe in God and are people steeped in protestant religion incredibly grating. She says that it's almost a straight-up requirement to believe in God, since you need something stronger outside of yourself to rely on.

I also thought I was going to get a few chapters about her experiences and her thoughts and then we'd get chapters that were mini-biographies
C.R. Elliott
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
*I received a copy from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*

Normally I wouldn't talk about my life in a book review but with Pursuit of Endurance it feels appropriate. This year has been tumultuous with big moves and work changes on the horizon. I've been reaching for this book when I've needed extra strength to take the deep breaths and keep moving forward. I'm not an athlete nor am I particularly interested in attempting any records but I found the book blurb interesting and Jennifer Ph
Aug 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Jennifer Pharr Davis is a hiking and endurance enthusiast, and one-time Fastest Known Time (FKT) holder for a thru hike on the Appalachian Trail. In “The Pursuit of Endurance,” she alternates accounts of her hiking experiences with profiles of other notable thru hikers and runners, including Warren Doyle, David Horton, Scott Williamson, Andrew Thompson, Heather Anderson, and Scott Jurek. She also includes chapters on the psychology and science of human endurance. I found it particularly interest ...more
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
Kim Kuhne
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
I'll start by saying that this was better than I expected, and I expected a lot!

I read Jennifer's first book, "Becoming Odyssa" a few years ago. That was much better than "Wild" for an account of long-distance hiking. "Becoming Odyssa" lead me to "Born to Run" and "Eat and Run", and finally the Backpacker article on Scott Williamson's multiple attempts to yo-yo the PCT. Pieces of all of these came up in their turn in "Pursuit of Endurance".

Jennifer spent 2 years working on this book-- intervie
Elizabeth McInerney
May 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is the story of the few people key people who have set records hiking the Appalachian Trail. Their records are known as FKTs (Fastest Known Times), and until I read this book, I had no idea FKTs were even a thing! The author was the first female to best all of the previous female and male times, a record she held for several years. She is an excellent writer and managed to keep me fully engaged for the entire book. She discusses the history of the AT, the history of the people who have set ...more
Apr 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Jennifer is a long distance hiker and held the record for the fastest thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail. In this book she explores what drives people to attempt a record breaking hike and what it takes physically and psychologically. Great stories can be found along the way and I am sure that because of Jennifer's background people were more open and willing to share their experiences with her.

I didn't know most of the people she has interviewed and reading about them felt like being part of th
Robert Sutherland
May 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
This book is a bit of a paradox. It's about endurance, specifically about enduring the thousands of miles of national scenic trails like the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail--but it's doing so faster than everybody else. It's a lot about outlast, but there is also an element of outpace, because the focus of the book is bio/personality sketches of people who have endured these trails from beginning to end faster than anyone else.

The idea of completing a 2000 plus mile trail is an ep
Jen Heininger
May 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
I loved this book. Very unlike her first two. Thorough and objective look at endurance athletes, mostly long trail record holders. It might not appeal to everyone but I have become a huge fan of Jennifer Pharr Davis after reading all three of her books and I so appreciate her honesty and also her pragmatism. She is also very honest about her faith but not preachy or judgmental and her books don't come across at all like "Christian lit" -- she exemplifies C.S. Lewis' quote well, “The world does n ...more
Jasmyn Barca
Sep 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I Enjoyed this book on long trail FKT history, specifically the AT. She illustrates the backgrounds of previous and current record holders with personal interviews, and is not just asking about their athletic abilities, but also about their lives and how they came to the trail. I appreciated reading about the personal details of these people. They are all so ordinarily wrapped with such extraordinary strength on the inside.
I feel the potential for endurance in myself as I enjoy the outdoor hobb
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Jennifer Pharr Davis grew up in the North Carolina Mountains, where she developed a love for hiking at a young age. At age twenty-one, Jennifer hiked the entire Appalachian Trail as a solo female and fell in love with long-distance backpacking.

Since then, Jennifer has hiked more than 8,000 miles of trails in North America, including the Pacific Crest Trail, Vermont’s Long Trail, and the Colorado T

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According to some historians, the month of April is actually named after Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, by way of the Romans....
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