Giving Thanks

AJW gives thanks to the race directors, public-lands workers, and storytellers who have inspired his running in 2020.

By on November 27, 2020 | Leave a reply

AJW's TaproomIf ever there was a year where gratitude was due on the American Thanksgiving holiday, it’s 2020. And, while I don’t typically subscribe to the annual ritual of giving thanks, this year seems to warrant it. This year has offered up challenges few of us could have anticipated last Thanksgiving. Yet, here we are, limping along and trying to make the best of it. So, for me, on this ordinary day in this extraordinary year, I give thanks to the race directors, the public-lands workers, and the storytellers.

Race Directors

At the heart and soul of our sport, the race director stands apart. In this year of cancelations and ever-changing circumstances, many of the race directors I know have faced a dizzying array of challenges. Some have successfully pivoted to virtual races while others have soldiered on to conduct events in the midst of difficult times. Through it all, I have been impressed by the resilience and can-do attitude that pervades the race director’s profession. I am also particularly thankful to the directors of the two races I have been fortunate enough to run this year, David Tarkalson at the Beaverhead 100k and Jason Green at the Yeti 100 Mile. These guys are incredible!

Public-Lands Workers

Never before in my life have I cherished our public lands more than this year. Providing peace and solace in the midst of chaos and uncertainty, the public lands I have visited in 2020 have been a lifeline to a sense of normalcy I have so desperately needed. From the simplicity of my local state and county parks, to the grandeur of some of our most precious national parks, my visits to our public lands have been essential. And, at the heart of those places are the people who make them work, the park rangers, the trail builders, and the tireless volunteers. Providing access to nature every step of the way, these hard-working advocates of the American ideal of open space have made this year just a little more tolerable.


In a normal year, I would have attended six to eight ultramarathon events and at almost every one of them, I would have likely spent much of the time therein swapping stories. Ultrarunning, at its core, is a place that is ripe for stories. Stories of victory and defeat, hope and despair, and joy and sorrow are as embedded in ultrarunning as just about anything. This year, in the absence of such narrative experiences, I am forever grateful for the storytellers in our sport. Bryon Powell and Meghan Hicks here on iRunFar, Don Freeman and Scott Warr on Trail Runner Nation, Henry Howard at Run Spirited, and Dylan Bowman at The Well are just a few of the skilled storytellers who have provided a place to revel in the wild, wacky world of the sport we love so much in a world turned upside down.

With any luck, we will begin moving toward a little more normalcy in 2021. And, when we do, let’s be sure to thank the race directors, the public-lands workers, and the storytellers who have helped us all weather this storm and live to run another day.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Ozark Beer Company in Rogers, Arkansas. Their Ozark Lager is a simple, solid lager that is reminiscent of the old days of classic German lager. Balanced and with a hint of toasted almond, Ozark Lager should be a go to for whatever adventure awaits.

Call for Comments

  • Who and what do you give thanks for in this unprecedented 2020?
  • Leave a comment to share what has helped to ease the burden of this year a little bit, be it in running or the rest of your life.
Andy Jones-Wilkins
finished in the top 10 men at the Western States 100 7-straight times. He's sponsored by Patagonia and Drymax socks and is iRunFar's editorialist.