AJW’s Taproom, Five Years Later

AJW’s Taproom celebrates its fifth anniversary.

By on October 14, 2016 | Comments

AJW's TaproomIt was five years ago today that the first AJW’s Taproom column was published right here. The idea hatched by Bryon, Meghan, and I over a couple beers at the Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Nellysford, Virgina has now persisted every Friday for five full years. Beginning as an effort to provide an editorial voice for the website, AJW’s Taproom has evolved into a space in which we can celebrate the wonderful, wacky world of ultrarunning each and every Friday. And, along the way, it allows me to share some of my ideas, however odd or offbeat, to the ever-growing legion of iRunFar readers.

For this fifth-anniversary column, I thought it would be fun to take a look back over the 265 previous columns and take stock of the people, events, books, helpful hints, analysis, ideas, musings, humorous anecdotes, and beers that have made up AJW’s Taproom since that inaugural column on October 14, 2011.

[Editor’s Note: I must step in here briefly to give my own thanks for AJW’s unflagging commitment to this column. This is now the 266th time he’s provided you with musings and thoughts into his own passion and, in doing so, shed insight into our own passions. Every Friday for five years, his Taproom has been a foundational element of iRunFar. Let’s raise a glass to his tireless work and to another five years! – Bryon]

The People

Just about everyone I’ve ever talked to about ultrarunning says that it is the people who make it great. And here in the Taproom the list of people who’ve been featured herein is long and legendary. Here’s the who’s who:

Sadly, on occasion, this page has been a place where we have mourned those members of our beloved community who have passed away. Among those we have remembered here are:

The Events

After the people, nothing brings our community together more organically than our events. And certainly, over the past five years, events large and small have been featured prominently here in the Taproom. Beginning, of course, with my all-time favorite, which has been written about many times, the list of events is dynamic:

The Books

As an avid reader, I often find little nuggets of running wisdom in the books I read. From time to time, I have shared some of those nuggets here in the Taproom. Among the books we have featured here over the years are:

Helpful Hints

While the Taproom is most definitely not intended to be source for instruction and advice (I leave that to the real pros, Joe Uhan and Ian Torrence), from time to time I have delved into topics of particular interest to me as a 100-mile runner. Those topics have included:


Like many ultra participants/fans, one of my favorite things to do is analyze the sport, the performances, the athletes, and the general trends that we see on a weekly basis as runners and observers. Some of the topics I’ve analyzed include:

Ideas and Musings

By far the most enjoyable and difficult-to-write pieces that I’ve contributed to this column are the ideas and musings I have occasionally offered up in the Taproom. These are often the columns that garner the most discussion and also lend themselves to metaphorical comparisons between running and life. Some of my favorites are these:

My Favorite Holiday

Each year for the past five, whether it was a Friday or not, I’ve penned a special column on April 1st. For those who may have forgotten, here is a quick summary:

The Beers

There are way too many to count but one of the fun little parts of the Taproom are the beer reviews each week at the end of the column. While they are never overly analytical (or even that informative), they do tend to get people excited about the favorite beverage of many trail and ultrarunners.

And so, there you have it, a five-year retrospective. I want to sincerely thank all of the loyal readers who have reached out to me over the years either online or in person to talk about these musings. It’s truly been one of my life’s great joys over the past five years. Every time someone stops me at an ultra to talk about something I’ve written here, it warms my heart. It really does. God willing, here’s to another five years in the Taproom!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

devils-backbone-brewing-company-danzig-baltic-porterFor this week’s Beer of the Week, it seems only fitting to go back to where it all began, at Devil’s Backbone Brewing Company in Nellysford, Virginia. Devil’s Backbone recently won a gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their Danzig Baltic Porter. A thick, dark, chocolatey Porter, Danzig is a truly robust porter that goes well with a hearty comfort-food meal or on its own after a long day in the mountains.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • What are some of your favorite Taproom memories? Stories, beers, topics?
  • AJW’s got more years of ruminations in him! ;) What would you like to see AJW philosophize about? Any ideas for future columns? Or maybe Beers of the Week?
Andy Jones-Wilkins

Andy Jones-Wilkins is an educator by day and has been the author of AJW’s Taproom at iRunFar for over 11 years. A veteran of over 190 ultramarathons, including 38 100-mile races, Andy has run some of the most well-known ultras in the United States. Of particular note are his 10 finishes at the Western States 100, which included 7 times finishing in the top 10. Andy lives with his wife, Shelly, and Josey, the dog, and is the proud parent of three sons, Carson, Logan, and Tully.