[Editor’s Note: Long ago iRunFar published the occasional article featuring folks of interest in the ultrarunning and trail running community under the moniker WeRunFar. It’s with great excitement that we revive this name with Meaghen Brown penning a regular column highlighting interesting trail runners, this time with a focus away from those at the front of the pack. Check back tomorrow for the first installment of Meaghen’s new column!]
Forty or so minutes before this year’s Hardrock cutoff, Dakota Jones and I walked over to the finish line in the hazy half-light of Colorado dawn to watch the last seven runners round the corner on 12th street and stumble through the homestretch in front of Silverton High School. After almost 48 solid hours of mostly continuous forward motion, 23 hours after Hal Koerner strode (shirtless) to victory, they too would kiss that confounded rock and claim their finisher’s medal. As Dakota wrote on his blog a few days later, “the true spirit of Hardrock resides in those people.”
Largely speaking, the true spirit of the sport resides in those people. And this column, for however long Bryon Powell allows me to write it, will largely focus on them. The unsponsored underdogs who rise at five to knock out a few solid miles before the kids wake up or sneak out on their lunch breaks for 12-mile training sessions. Men and women attempting, and sometimes even crushing their first 100s. Middle-of-the-packers with great stories to tell.
The WeRunFar column was born out of a few long runs with some ardent followers of iRunFar who felt that Bryon’s generally ubiquitous coverage was somewhat lacking in the “middle-of-the-pack” department. In the midst of our misadventures, the four of us often joked that we should start our own blog and call it “iRunSlow” or “iRunFar(but not very fast)” – character stories from the trenches. Take Davy Crockett (Running Frontier), who went from overweight couch potato to obsessive 100 miler after stumbling upon the sport on a Google search for long-distance hiking buddies. “I had never heard of this sport before. Feeling confident, I entered my first mountain 50K. I finished it, but came in nearly last place.” Or Danni Coffman from Kalispell, Montana, who’s now run Sustina twice simply because she “enjoys pushing the boundaries of random punishing.” Or my friend John Hart who after learning he’d made it through the Hardrock lottery, informed his wife and 11-year-old daughter that this year they’d be spending their summer vacation in Silverton.
Volunteer at an aid station, and these are the folks you meet. They’re generally friendly (picture runner Dan Pierce gamely requesting bacon at a Bighorn aid station despite the fact that he’s recently puked up about 20 liters of Perpetuum), sometimes keep hilarious blogs of their own (we love you Anton, but this: “shin hurt. 1/12” hardly compares to this: “First, I started to chafe. Not between my thighs as I had triathlon shorts on. Not around my arm pits from the running motion. But between my ASS CHEEKS. Now let me just say, I read many many 100 mile race reports before attempting this race. And in all of them, none of them mentioned this issue. But yes, apparently, your ass cheeks will chafe if you run over 12 hours. Who knew? Maybe it’s because I have a big ass? Whatever reason, I then looked at a tube of Vaseline sitting on an aid station table. ‘Ohhhhhhh, THAT’S what it’s for!’ I looked at the bottle with a disparaging look. The volunteer asked me if I needed any. I said I think so. ‘Well, go ahead honey, I’ve seen it applied to probably every body part imaginable today!’” kensroadtokona 9/12) routinely drop a couple hundred dollars on race entry fees, and they buy their own shoes.
Welcome to WeRunFar. Your loving (albeit mildly irreverent) coverage from the weekend warriors, cocky youngsters, mothers and old men who are out there struggling and surviving on the same trails as the elites. As Dakota so aptly put it, “that so many people are voluntarily willing to do something long, difficult, painful and slow seems proof that we still seek adventure.” Based on the stories to come, young Dakota may be right.