The first time I met Bryon Powell was after the 2005 Western States 100. We hit it off right away and vowed to keep in touch.
At the Western States 100 the next year, the brutally hot year of 2006, Bryon and I shared some miles in the high country before Bryon drifted back to finish the race with his mentor, ultrarunning legend Scott Mills. We remained in touch through that winter, and since Bryon was still living on the U.S. East Coast at the time, I convinced him to pace me at the Vermont 100 Mile. It was a great day, and a lifelong friendship was born.
A couple months later, as I was getting ready to run the Grand Teton 100 Mile, Bryon emailed me to say he was passing through and wondered if I wanted a pacer. Of course, I said yes, and he arranged to join me for my final 25-mile loop. About five miles into our run, Bryon said, “Guess what? I am turning my blog into an ultrarunning website.”
I thought, What? How do you even do that? I may have been one of the first people Bryon told about this new venture and, frankly, I had no idea what to think. He told me he was going to call it iRunFar, and he was going to start by publishing three articles a week, every week.
For the next two years Bryon did just that, publishing three articles a week, many of which focused on gear reviews and race reports. Bryon attended the Outdoor Retailer trade show every year and worked tirelessly hunting down the latest trends in the industry while maintaining his full-time job as a Washington, D.C., attorney. In the spring of 2009, after two years of scheming, Bryon finally made the leap to full time and never looked back! As he told me in an email in the spring of 2009, “AJW, I did it, I quit my job, sold my house in Virginia, and am moving to California.”
From there, things moved fast. The next time I saw Bryon was unexpected. I was running The North Face 50 Mile Championships in December of 2009 and at one point I came around the corner and there he was — camera phone in hand — taking a picture of me and then quickly beginning to type into his phone. Turns out, that was the day that iRunFar’s race coverage via Twitter was born.
A couple years later, as the race coverage thing took off, Bryon found himself covering a race in Virginia, where I lived at the time. After the race, he asked me if I wanted to grab a beer with him and there, over a couple of beers, he hatched another idea. “AJW, what if we turned your blog into a column on iRunFar. You can call it whatever you want and pretty much write whatever you want. Think of yourself as iRunFar’s editorialist.” AJW’s Taproom was born.
Along the way, with race coverage, Bryon and Meghan Hicks did what are now their signature pre-race interviews — but in the early days they were a little more haphazard. For example, here is an 87-minute doozy from when Bryon interviewed me at my last Western States 100 in 2014. Of course, each time we sat down to chat we had a blast and further cemented our friendship.
And so it was that I accepted the bittersweet news recently that Bryon was retiring from his position as Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar and handing the reins over to Meghan. Knowing Bryon as well as I do, I know that these last 15 years have not been without their challenges and Bryon certainly deserves a break. However, Bryon also deserves a ton of credit for bringing our often-disparate community together — staking a journalistic claim in a sport that is nothing if not quirky, and providing runners around the world, including me, with a place where our voices can be heard.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week is Bryon’s favorite — Yuengling Lager from Pottsville, Pennsylvania. From one of America’s oldest breweries, Yuengling Lager is a classic. A bit malty, slightly rich, and smoky, and packing a nice smooth aftertaste — this is truly an “everything beer.”
Call for Comments
- Have you been following iRunFar from the early days?
- What’s your favorite Bryon Powell memory?
- You know what to do in the comments section!