Introducing the Unforgettable Moments in Ultrarunning History Series

AJW has a new series for 2022, where he’ll write about unforgettable moments in ultrarunning history!

By on January 14, 2022 | Comments

AJW's TaproomOver the past several years in AJW’s Taproom, I have written a number of monthly series on a variety of topics. From ultrarunners of the year in 2018 to this past year’s trail love letters, these monthly series have often led to interesting discussions and thought-provoking debates.

For my 2022 series, I have decided to write about unforgettable moments in ultrarunning history. As this particular topic is likely to garner a wide range of disparate opinions, I am devoting this first column to what, in my view, makes a historical moment unforgettable.

The first criterion for an unforgettable moment is something that has never happened before. The unprecedented nature of certain events often gives us pause and calls into question our current understanding of reality.

In the case of long-distance running, both extraordinary performances by elite runners, as well as certain mind-bending feats by regular runners are the kinds of things that open up previously closed frontiers and stretch the limits of our understanding.

Courtney Dauwalter setting a course record at the 2021 UTMB. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Next, an unforgettable moment, in addition to being novel and unprecedented, is also something that captures the imagination and inspires. When I look back on moments in my life that are truly unforgettable, it is this idea of inspiration that I find so alluring.

In the history of sports — and ultrarunning is no different — moments that inspire imagination and motivate us to dream big are often inevitably etched on the collective psyche of both fans and participants.

Finally, my third key criterion for unforgettable moments is that the moment permanently altered the way we think, perceive, and even behave. Often these moments take on a life of their own, perhaps through lore passed down over the years or some kind of new and innovative approach that forever changed the way we interact with something.

For long-distance runners, these are moments that cause a permanent change in mindset or approach, and can have impacts far beyond running.

And so, I hope you are all looking forward to a thought-provoking series. At the moment, I have compiled a list of my top-five unforgettable moments in ultrarunning history and I will share them, one month at a time, here on iRunFar from February through July.

Along the way, I would encourage you all to participate in the discussion and weigh in with some of your own personal unforgettable moments and, hopefully over the next year, in addition to reflecting on moments from the past, we can also create new unforgettable moments of our own.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

White Birch Brewing - beer of the weekThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from White Birch Brewing in Nashua, New Hampshire. Known for their Weisse-style beers, White Birch’s Original Berliner Weisse is a classic German-style Sour Wheat Ale with a soft mouthfeel and an incredibly smooth finish for a sour. Refreshingly crisp and slightly citrusy, the Original Berliner Weisse is a great go-to beer for just about any occasion.

Call for Comments

  • What are some of your favorite moments in ultrarunning history, past or more present?
  • What makes an unforgettable moment in sports, for you?
Gunhild Swanson - 2015 Western States 100

Gunhild Swanson after finishing the 2015 Western States 100 in 29:59:54, six seconds before the race cutoff at 70 years of age. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

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.