Eleven Years in the Taproom

A look back on the history of AJW’s Taproom thus far, reminding us of some great past articles.

By on October 14, 2022 | Comments

AJW's TaproomEleven years ago, the first AJW’s Taproom article was published. Much has changed in the sport since then. In 2011, GPS running watches were barely a thing, Hoka was a fringe shoe brand owned and operated by a couple of European ski bums, and folks had about a one in four chance of getting picked in the Western States 100 lottery.

What hasn’t changed is that three or four Fridays a month, we publish an article here that hopefully gets you thinking and talking. The goal of AJW’s Taproom remains the same today as it was 11 years ago, to provide readers with thought-provoking topics that they can discuss and debate on a long trail run or over a couple of pints at their local brewpub.

In the last 12 months since we released our 10th-anniversary article, we have published 38 articles. As I have for the past several years, I wrote a multi-part themed series as part of the annual rotation. On the excellent suggestion of iRunFar’s Meghan Hicks, this year’s series focused on Unforgettable Moments in Ultrarunning History.

I loved writing the series, which included stories about the original Grand Slammer Tom Green, Ann Trason and her 1994 Leadville 100 Mile, Kyle Skaggs’s otherworldly performance at the 2008 Hardrock 100, the dynamic men’s race at the 2010 Western States 100, and Gunhild Swanson’s dramatic once-in-a-lifetime Golden Hour finish at the 2015 Western States 100.

Kilian Jornet - Kyle Skaggs - 2022 Hardrock 100

Kilian Jornet and Kyle Skaggs enjoying one another’s company after the 2022 Hardrock 100. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Of course, anyone who has read this column for any period of time knows that the Western States 100 is my favorite race and the Taproom this year contained a handful of Western States stories. In advance of the race, I wrote about some intriguing storylines I was following, and, after the race, I shared commentary about why Western States is so meaningful to me.

After interviewing the Western States board president Diana Fitzpatrick, I took a deep dive into the Western States mission and values statement and also wrote a piece in which I shared the joy and heartbreak of coaching eight runners at this year’s race.

AJW's Western States 100 class of 2022

AJW and six of the eight runners he coached at the 2022 Western States 100 (left to right): Dario Zea, Gina Harcrow, Theo Wirth, AJW, Tom Rauen, Matt Marino, and Andrew Messina. Photo courtesy of AJW.

I also wrote several tributes to ultrarunners this year. After his incredible summer with wins at Hardrock and UTMB, I shared my thoughts on Kilian JornetJohn Geesler, one of the most humble and durable ultrarunners of our time, completed his 28th Vermont 100 Mile, and did so in classic, understated Geesler style.

Olympian speed skater Nils van der Poel wowed the world with two world records in the Winter Olympics and then shared his training plan with the world, which included running ultramarathons. And, tragically, this year saw the passing of legendary American ultrarunner Mark Godale.

John Geesler running his 24th Vermont 100

John Geesler running his 24th Vermont 100 Mile. Photo: Ben Kimball Photography

Finally, there was one article that seemed to capture the attention of many readers and led to a lively discussion in the comments section. Shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, several governing bodies announced that they were banning Russian athletes from competition. I found the subsequent commentary constructive and thought-provoking.

Here’s to another great year in the Taproom!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Portneuf Valley BrewingThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Portneuf Valley Brewing in Pocatello, Idaho. Twisted Stick Amber Ale is a super malty, American Amber Ale with very little bitterness and a smooth, almost sweet finish. As the weather cools and autumn descends upon Idaho’s Mountains, Twisted Stick Amber is a perfect choice.

Call for Comments

  • What’s your favorite AJW’s Taproom article from the past year?
  • Do you have article ideas for the coming year in the Taproom?
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.