The Reintroduction of WeRunFar

[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.

Meaghen Brown

is an assistant editor at Outside Magazine and amateur trail runner. Her work has appeared in Outside, The New Yorker online, The Santa Fe Reporter, and The Atlantic online. When not at her desk, you'll likely find Meaghen getting lost on exploring trails around Santa Fe, New Mexico. Her proudest running accomplishment to date? Beating Nikki Kimball's course record at the Blue Mountain 30k. She claims to owe it all to one yurt dweller and three crazy lawyers from Missoula, Montana.

There are 40 comments

  1. Moogy

    Outstanding Meaghen. Cannot wait to read more. All of our journeys, all of our start lines, all of our finish lines, may be different but in the end We all just like to RunFar.

  2. Dennis

    YES!!! Love reading about the elites but REALLY want to hear about us regular ultra runners, those of us who's goals are to finish, have an amazing time doing it and hopefully not get Medivac'd home…looking forward to it

  3. Jeff

    First off, great idea…I personally find these kinds of stories much more interesting than the front of the pack guys.

    You know what would be cool…is if every now and then you just randomly picked a finisher of an Ultra…got in touch with them and learned their story and wrote about it. Everyone I have talked to who runs ultras has cool/funny stories.

  4. Eric

    Fantastic! One of my favorite aspects of the ultra community is all the "characters" (to put it mildly) it attracts. And while following the elites is entertaining and inspiring, I'm looking forward to hearing more tales from the field and profiles of the "regular" folks.

  5. Danni

    This is awesome on a number of levels. First, glad to see you're writing for iRunfar. Second, thanks for the shout out and third, I am really looking forward to this feature!

  6. Andy

    Ditto to all of the above. Chafed cheeks, epic bonks, and rising like Lazarus to drop your pacer after stumbling for 15 miles, these are all stories we have to share that can amuse and inspire other mid-packers (who probably represent the majority of iRF followers). Great addition.

  7. Ric Moxley

    New enough to irunfar that the werunfar thing is totally new for me. And totally cool idea, cool re-intro article! Yes, I'm motivated toward ultras (not yet done my first, but hopefully in 2013) by the extraordinary accomplishments of the lithe elite sponsored folk, but ANYONE who carves enough time and commitment to serious ultra running prep from the middle of living life (making a living, being a spouse/parent etc.) to successfully run and complete a 50- or 100-mile run is equally inspiring to me — maybe more so because the achievements of the non-elites seem more do-able to those of us who are early in the game of distance running, and late in entering it (plus-50 years). Bring on more of these stories! :)

  8. Stephen Sherwood

    Great article, running the Boulder 100 this weekend I talked to many people who just loved the challenge of walking/running the distance not trying to win or pr just finish! That is my favorite part of a multiple loop course everyone runs together!

  9. Tonya

    This is wonderful!!!!… The superhero elites are amazing to follow but I look forward to reading about the 'mere mortals'… who are just as amazing! As a (45 year old) newbie to the whole endurance scene I think I will find even MORE inspiration through your articles… I just struggled through my very first marathon this weekend (golden hills trail marathon) and it was recalling all the tales of struggle that kept mine in perspective and kept me moving forward. Next stop: Ultra… 50k is on the horizon. :) Thank you! Thank you!

  10. Lucy

    Fantastic news! Thank you! I was really missing stories like that, from and about regular mid pack runners, easy to relate to. Thank you for this great addition.

  11. J.Xander

    This is a great idea! I look forward to reading these pieces. It was a small community of dedicated men and women (no elites) that meet every Saturday at 5:30am to crank out a long run, regardless of weather (20 below -whatever,) that first inspired me. Let me know if you need a list for nominating some absolutely inspirational ultra-runners and kick-ass people. They deserve a lot of the love.

  12. Anonymous

    What a great idea! As a follower of the sport who has a family member who is an elite runner and a husband who is a normal guy who loves running I am very interested in both types of articles.

  13. FrankRobbins

    So does this mean some possible lanterne rouge interviews with say, the last person to finish the Western States 100? That's the kind of interview I'd love to see!

    1. Bryon Powell

      Frank, we've long talked about mid- or back-of-the-pack interviews at certain races. It's likely that we'll have some at future races as time and resources permit. I'm guessing that any such interviews would target interesting stories or people outside of the front-of-the-pack, not necessarily the last official finisher.

  14. Richard

    "There's no crying in baseball." But no one knows what you do in the dark, alone, 70 miles into what began as a happy adventure filled with hope and joy. "We Run Far" is an apt celebration of our mutual ultra-experience. Thank you. For the record, I've been at both ends of the experience… the front and the back. While I remember both, winning can be a fleeting celebration, while the results of a long struggle can be indelible. Many years ago, I set the record for the slowest Hardrock finish of all time. It's still the record and one of my cherished accomplishments. Dakota got it right, and so does this feature!

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