New Beginnings: AJW’s Career Change

Andy Jones-Wilkins celebrates a big career and life transition.

By on January 5, 2024 | Comments

AJW's TaproomI remember it like it was yesterday. Standing at the starting line of my first 100-mile race, the Angeles Crest 100 Mile in 2000. I was a seething bundle of emotions; excitement, fear, joy, and anxiety coursed through my body. For the first time in my life, I was plunging into the complete unknown and I had no idea what to expect. I just had to trust in my training and hope for the best.

Today, over 23 years later, I am once again a seething bundle of emotions; excitement, fear, joy, and anxiety are coursing through my body. But this time, I am not standing at the starting line of a 100-mile race, rather I am standing at the starting line of a new life journey. And just like all those years ago, I have to trust in my training and hope for the best.

AJW running his do-it-yourself 100 miler in 2017. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Last month, after finishing my 67th semester as an educator, I hopped in my car and drove away from the schoolyard for the last time. After 34 years, I have decided to move on from my career in education and transition full-time into running related ventures. It is where my passion is, where my joy is, and where I feel I can live my most purposeful life. In essence, running is not just something I do, it is who I am.

Earlier this week I plunged headfirst into my new life. My plan at this point is to combine my endurance coaching practice at CTS with my writing here at iRunFar and my personal podcast, “Crack a Brew with AJW,” to cobble together a living.

In addition, I hope to develop a series of running camps in my beloved Sonoran Desert here in the U.S., increase my involvement with the Mountain Outpost livestream team, and return to work on the book that’s been banging around in my head for over a decade.

In short, as my kids said when I told them, I am going to “send it!”

Like that first 100 miler 23 years ago, I suspect this new journey will have its ups and downs. I will probably go off course a few times, get sick to my stomach, and make a few poor decisions which may lead me astray. But I also have faith that with focus, experience, and hard work, I will evolve and grow.

Additionally, no longer being tied to the academic calendar that has essentially ruled the majority of my adult life, I will be given the gift of time. Time for my own running, time for my family and friends, and time to spend at races across the country and perhaps around the world, something that has provided me with some of the greatest memories of my life.

AJW and Tully Jones-Wilkins - 2021 Bighorn Trail 100 Mile

AJW and his son Tully after the 2021 Bighorn Trail 100 Mile. Photo: Shelly Jones-Wilkins

As 2024 dawns I look forward to seeing many of you out there on the trails and at the races. I look forward to sharing my journey with you, and also hearing about yours. At a time of life when many folks are beginning to wind down, I am excitedly preparing to wind up, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Let’s do this!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Alpine Beer Company logoThis week’s beer of the week comes from Alpine Beer Company in Alpine, California. Founded in 1999, Alpine produces one of the broadest variety of IPAs in the country. Infinite Haze IPA is Alpine’s New England style offering and it is outstanding. Crisp, rich, and with just a hint of bitterness, Infinite Haze combines old school and new school just about perfectly.

Call for Comments

  • Have you gone through a big career change like this?
  • Do you have any tips or advice for AJW to ease the transition?
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.