Nine Years On: The Best of AJW’s Taproom

AJW looks back at writing “AJW’s Taproom” for the last nine years.

By on October 9, 2020 | Comments

AJW's TaproomMuch has changed in the world of ultrarunning since 2011. Back then, virtually none of us ran in overly cushioned or zero-drop shoes, most of us carried our fluids in bottles in our hands or around our waists rather than packs strapped to our backs, and just about all of us gauged miles based on what maps and signs said rather than what our watches told us. But, what hasn’t changed is that on about 40 Fridays a year, I write a column here on iRunFar.

From that fateful September day in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia nine years ago when Bryon Powell hatched the idea of adding an editorial column to his website up until today, I have cherished this opportunity to provide weekly commentary on the sport I love so much. So, to celebrate the ninth anniversary of this column and to look ahead to year 10, I thought I would share my favorite columns from these first nine years.

From 2011, I am highlighting Constellations and Supernovas in which I compared the running careers of Tim Twietmeyer and Kyle Skaggs and commented on longevity, or the lack thereof, in the sport.

In 2012, I wrote a rebuke of multitasking which I called Unitasking. In that column I shared my belief that the simple virtues of the long training run are enough to give us the time and space to escape, if just for a few hours, the relentless pace of our everyday lives.

In Transcendence, from 2013, I mused about the ways in which long-distance running allows us to move beyond what is right in front of us toward something greater, and perhaps more purposeful, than what we do most of the time.

In June of 2014 I ran my 10th and final Western States 100 and devoted a column that year to my report from the race. Which frankly, looking back on it now, reads more like a love letter than a race report. And, one additional fun bit about that column is the inclusion of both my pre-race and post-race interviews with iRunFar which, I believe, are, to this day, their longest interviews on record.

In my paean to Steve Prefontaine in 2015, I wrote about Blowing Out the Carbon, Pre’s pre-competition ritual which has inspired me throughout my ultra career.

The single most difficult day in my running career took place in July of 2016 at the Hardrock 100. In Down to My Very Marrow, I described that excruciating day and the lessons I took away from it.

Much of the first part of 2017 was a period of despair for me, and many around me. In Running from Despair, I explored the ways running brought me solace in the midst of that tumultuous time and allowed me to come out the other side stronger and better.

Having been fascinated for much of my running life with the way in which the mind impacts the body, my 2018 article It’s All in the Mind explores the power of the mind in overcoming some of our most significant physical challenges.

Circling back to the Western States 100 on the fifth anniversary of my last run there, I wrote a tribute to my favorite event in 2019 in which I likened the event to Homecoming Weekend.

And finally, early in 2020, I reflected on those days on the run that are just a grind to get through. Referred to by my good friend Brad Mitchell as Lunch Pail Days, these are the days that always hurt the most but ultimately can be the most satisfying.

As I go into year 10 in the Taproom, I would love to hear from you, loyal readers, on what topics you would like to hear more about. I always love hearing from readers so if you have any thoughts please include them in the comments section below. On to year 10!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

To celebrate the ninth anniversary of AJWs Taproom, it seems appropriate to feature #9 Not Quite Pale Ale from Magic Hat Brewing Company in South Burlington, Vermont. A refreshing, crisp beer that is part lager and part pale ale, it is one of the few beers I’ve had that truly straddles these two varieties and comes out tasting just about perfect.

Call for Comments

Happy anniversary and thank you, AJW! Leave a comment to share your memories of AJW’s column so far and what you’d like to see him write about going forward. Onward!

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.