Operation Inspiration Airdrop #1

Operation Inspiration’s Airdrop #1, a dose of inspiration for runners everywhere.

By on April 2, 2020 | Comments

Welcome to Operation Inspiration’s Airdrop #1. Our goal is to offer you a big dose of inspiration… RIGHT NOW!

With the COVID-19 public health crisis, everything about our lives is different. The crisis impacts our jobs, families, running, other hobbies, and for some of us, our health or that of someone we love. With so much change as well as the natural stress it brings about, it can be easy to put our workouts on hold. But working out is so important to our overall health!

In this article, we share how members of the global iRunFar community are creatively and safely working out within their local governments’ regulations and recommendations. Let’s get to it.

[Editor’s Note: The Airdrop #2 article and video are now live, too. Check them out!]

Operation Inspiration Airdrop #1 Video

iRunFar Editor-in-Chief Runs a Solo Ultramarathon in Colorado

“You can let change drag you down or you can take what you’re given and make the best of it. On Tuesday, March 17, I ran 52 miles from Silverton, Colorado to Durango, as my replacement adventure after the coming weekend’s White Mountains 100 was canceled. While I don’t intend to run 50 miles on a highly canted road shoulder again anytime soon, it was so cool to finally see all the little details along the way after whizzing by in a car so many times before. It was a real gift.”

Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Mallory Richard Runs through Pregnancy in Manitoba

“I’m almost six months pregnant, so I didn’t have a lot of racing plans for 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic has still changed my relationship with running, though. I’m a research analyst for the City of Winnipeg and am part of a team working on the police department’s response to the pandemic. I’ve been working longer hours and finding work more stressful as we figure out ways to keep employees safe and keep emergency services running.

“Staying active helps me manage the stress. Running has become less about training for events and more about taking care of myself. We’re permitted to go outside in Winnipeg, so solo walks and runs give me the time and space to process everything that’s happening, and to hold onto the part of myself that craves adventures. Since I’m pregnant and that may affect my risk profile or susceptibility to COVID-19, social distancing when I go outside has been especially important. I’m getting creative about finding running routes that aren’t too icy, but aren’t crowded, either.”

Photo courtesy of Mallory Richard.

Turning North to Go South in New Mexico by Anthony Fleg

In running, I find healing and meaning in some of their purest forms. So, feeling a bit drained from a long week, I laced up my shoes and headed to the strong medicine of the Sandia Mountains for three hours of play. I was about an hour into the run when I got directions from a friend I happened to pass on the trail.

“It’s going to look like you are going the wrong direction, heading north, but that trail will take you home to the south.”

From six feet away I panted, “Thanks, brother.” I climbed further in my playground, trying to accept that heading north was actually going to get me south.

In our current moment, there is comfort in having someone to guide us. Reflect on all of the messages you’ve received from authorities about new restrictions and updated procedures related to coronavirus, all of them asking us to turn north, just to make it to the south. Beyond feeling inundated and overwhelmed, perfectly normal responses, do you remember feeling a sense of relief that someone was guiding your way? Did you take a moment to think about what it means for our communities and larger society that we are able to work for the collective good in a way that we rarely see?

Well, being both stubborn and directionally challenged, a few hours after that encounter, I found myself nowhere near my starting point and heading south, climbing higher and higher. You would have thought that the patches of snow and glimpses of the ridge that signaled the top of the mountain would have kind of, sort of told me I might want to reevaluate my current path since I needed to end up about 3,000 feet lower than my elevation at that moment.

“I am heading south so I must be going the right way!” I told myself over and over.

Our lives are the route. The map in our head tells us the only way to turn is south, blinding us from seeing that we clearly headed the wrong way. Maybe COVID-19 is the turn to the north that will get us where we are meant to go? With some bumps and tests of faith along the way, maybe coronavirus is getting us “home” despite our feeling that it is taking us the wrong way.

Let’s accept it. Let’s embrace it. Find joy in the path ahead. Be an active part of it getting yourself “home” in a way that, like a long run, leaves us replenished and renewed even if exhausted.

Ps. I did make it to the car, just under the six-hour mark, replenished, renewed, and exhausted. The blessing was not the finish line, but the journey north that it took to get there.

(Written for Running Medicine.)

Gaël Revelin’s (France) and Adam Gerard’s (Colorado) Spin Studios

Photo: Gaël Revelin

Photo: Olivia Rissland

Norb Lyle Runs on Shinob Kibe in Utah

“Looking out my breakfast table in southern Utah, I’ve always been enthralled with my view of the mountain called Shinob Kibe. It is named for a Paiute Indian deity, ‘Schnobki,’ who was a protector of the tribe. Rising up from the banks of the Virgin River, the 600-foot mountain dominates our view in the St. George area. It is considered a sacred place to the Paiutes, and history is written all over this mountain. Back in 1776, the mountain was used as a place of refuge and protection from Navajo raids. I guess that’s why it always speaks to me and moves me to run up the northern access trail to the summit and back for a fantastic workout! I imagine that being up at the summit would make anyone feel protected. The views are astounding and I can feel the serenity, protection, and safety surrounding me.”

Photo: Norb Lyle

Peter Hubbard Runs the States from Home in Illinois

“I’ve always loved maps and exploring my surroundings on foot. I live in Wheaton, Illinois with my wife and five kids and I love exploring local forest preserves on runs and hikes with my family. I don’t race too often but always need an outlet for seeking adventure. In the absence of mountains and vast open spaces, I’ve made the most of suburbia and realized that running with a GPS makes some interesting shapes and forms. With that inspiration, I embarked on a project to run the outline of all 50 states, using my knowledge of all the secret paths, suburban cut-throughs, fishermen trails, game trails, and good old bushwhacking to complete each state. It’s been fun sharing it with family and friends and since I’m nearing completion, I used Operation Inspiration to make a concerted push and complete three of the more ambitious routes I mapped out. It was definitely a challenge to complete them this week, but the inspiration helped me along, so thank you!”

Image: Peter Hubbard

Image: Peter Hubbard

Image: Peter Hubbard

Call for Comments

Let’s send it! Leave a comment to add your dose of inspiration. Got a link to a photo, video, Strava file, or more that can add to all the inspiration here? Leave a comment to share what’s inspiring you right now, so that you can help inspire others.

How to Submit to Operation Inspiration’s Airdrops

We have a second Operation Inspiration Airdrop dropping next week, and are taking submissions for it! What’s inspiring you and how can you inspire others? We seek your story to share with the world!

  • From now through April 5, submit photos, videos, and stories from your inspiring runs or other workouts to operationinspiration at irunfar dot com. We’ll choose from among the submissions in our Airdrop articles.
  • Please limit submissions to 2 paragraphs of text, 3 photos (horizontal layout preferred), and/or 1 video up to 30 seconds in length (again, horizontal layout, please).
  • If your submissions are too large for email attachments, upload them to your public cloud of choice and send a cloud link as part of your email message to operationinspiration at irunfar dot com.
  • Include your name and where you live, and limit submissions to 1 per person.

By submitting, you give us permission to use your name, location, and all or part of your submission in Operation Inspiration’s Airdrop articles, related video, and sharing these works on social media. We will never use your contact information or submissions for any other purpose.

Operation Inspiration’s Brand Support

Thanks so much to Operation Inspiration’s brand partners who’ve helped make this project possible!

Meghan Hicks

Meghan Hicks is the Editor-in-Chief of iRunFar. She’s been running since she was 13 years old, and writing and editing about the sport for around 15 years. She served as iRunFar’s Managing Editor from 2013 through mid-2023, when she stepped into the role of Editor-in-Chief. Aside from iRunFar, Meghan has worked in communications and education in several of America’s national parks, was a contributing editor for Trail Runner magazine, and served as a columnist at Marathon & Beyond. She’s the co-author of Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running with Bryon Powell. She won the 2013 Marathon des Sables, finished on the podium of the Hardrock 100 Mile in 2021, and has previously set fastest known times on the Nolan’s 14 mountain running route in 2016 and 2020. Based part-time in Moab, Utah and Silverton, Colorado, Meghan also enjoys reading, biking, backpacking, and watching sunsets.