Just Keep Going

AJW writes about his 25th anniversary with ultrarunning.

By on February 17, 2017 | 13 comments

AJW's TaproomEarlier this week, Shelly and I sat down for our monthly calendar-review meeting. As we sifted through the dizzying array of events and appointments that would take up much of our busy family’s time over the next four weeks, something jumped off the page and made me pause, February 22nd.

What was it about that date, I wondered?

After we finished up our review and posted the large, 22-inch x 28-inch calendar back on the wall, I went upstairs and dug out my box of old running logs buried in the back of our storage closet. I pulled out my 1992 log and quickly flipped to February. Sure enough, as I had suspected but wasn’t entirely sure, February 22, 1992 was the day of my first ultra. So, in the midst of all of the whirlwind of the rest of my life, I will have a 25th anniversary to celebrate next week.

In my subsequent runs this week I couldn’t help but reflect back on the past 25 years of running ultras. How could I not? No matter how you slice it, 25 years is a long time to do anything and I must say that the quiet realization that I’ve been running ultras that long made me feel old and proud at the same time. And, one thought kept flooding back to me as I strained to recall that first ultra, “Little did I know then what I would know now.”

The lessons running has taught me are far reaching and broad. Not only has the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other for the past 25 years defined a large part of who I am, but I have to believe it has also revealed who I am meant to be. Sure, we are all a lot more complex than just runners; that’s an overly simplistic way to view anyone. But to have something, that one thing, that makes each day unique and each encounter with the rest of life more purposeful, is one of running’s greatest gifts.

Moreover, engaging in long-distance running for a quarter century brings me to a place of calm. No matter what the rest of life has thrown my way–jobs, relationships, joys, concerns–running has been there. Waiting patiently for me. Always willing to give me that which other parts of life do not. Running has, for the last 25 years, been a constant source of wholeness, wonder, and whimsy. Running has provided structure and discipline to an occasionally chaotic life and along the way has provided me with a foundation and grounding that nothing else in my life has. And for that reason above all else, I find myself driven to just keep going.

Here’s to another 25 years!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Founders Brewing Company Harvest AleThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from one of the Taproom’s favorite breweries, Founders Brewing Company in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Their Harvest Ale just came on my radar and really hit the spot. A classic American-style IPA, it’s 7.6% ABV and 70 IBU places it in the middle of the IPA pack but it’s delicious fruity smoothness and slight citrusy aftertaste make it a great post-run sipper.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • How long have you been running?
  • What do you know now that you didn’t when you started?
  • What overarching thing or things has running given you during your years with the sport?
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.