Thankful for the Community

In this season of thanksgiving, AJW is grateful for the running community.

By on November 25, 2022 | Comments

AJW's TaproomIn this season of gratitude, I find myself reflecting back on what has been a long and satisfying year for me. After several years of social isolation and various disruptions on the work and running front, I am tremendously grateful for the running community and the various ways the interconnectedness of the trail running world has provided comfort, sustenance, and connection for me in the midst of transformation and change.

First and foremost, I am thankful for the iRunFar community. Over the past 11 years, I have had the honor and privilege to write a three-times-a-month column for this website, and Bryon and Meghan have been consistently supportive and encouraging. This year, especially, their steady hands and warm hearts have enlivened my work on the column and inspired me to think deeply about my long-term involvement in the sport. Additionally, iRunFar engaged a new editor this year, Sarah Brady, who, while I have never met her in person, has been a lovely presence by my side as I have sought to put into words my often jumbled and conflicting thoughts.

As part of the Carmichael Training Systems ultrarunning coaching group, I have been inspired and motivated by the team of coaches that is assembled there. Energetic, smart, and highly skilled, these coaches, with whom I meet on a weekly basis, provide a consistent wealth of support and guidance while also serving as a backdrop in which I find myself constantly learning and growing. Additionally, having the privilege to work with 20 athletes from all walks of life who are striving to achieve their goals and dreams has provided a steady stream of motivation and purpose.

AJW and his dog Josey, a black dog with curly hair

Andy Jones-Wilkins and his dog, Josey, back in Arizona in 2022.

For those who are regular readers of the AJW’s Taproom column, you know that over the past six months, after more than 20 years away, my wife, Shelly, and I have relocated back to our beloved Valley of the Sun in Arizona. As I have reacquainted myself with my desert home, I am tremendously grateful for the Aravaipa Running community which has welcomed me back with open arms. The sense of community that visionary company founder Jamil Coury has fostered and nurtured at Aravaipa is one of the strongest I have been a part of. From the laid-back weekly group runs to the large-scale events that Aravaipa produces year-round, this is a group that works to bring together a massive cross-section of the community through a shared set of values.

My annual trip to the Western States 100 in late June once again confirmed for me my long-held belief that the event is so much more than just a race. Throughout my time in California on race weekend, my interactions with the participants, race organizers, volunteers, and friends of the race once again represented for me a triumph of the human spirit. While the race has grown and evolved in significant ways over the past 15 years, the essence of the Western States 100 remains the same and the community surrounding the event continues to be a source of sustenance for me that brightens my summer every year.

Finally, back in September, my eldest son, Carson, was married in Colorado. As part of the celebration, four of my closest ultrarunning friends, Chris and Craig Thornley, Scott Wolfe, and Bryon Powell, put their lives on pause to join our family celebration. Often thought of as our sons’ adopted uncles, Chris, Craig, Scott, and Bryon epitomize the ways in which running creates connections and bonds that transcend regular life. Celebrating the marriage of our first son with such a tight-knit group of friends was truly the highlight of my year and for those friendships, I am tremendously grateful.

Group photo at the author's son's wedding.

AJW with friends and family at his son, Carson’s, wedding. Photo: Joan Anderson

Here’s to another year of gratitude!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

pFriem Family BrewersThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from pFriem Family Brewers in Hood River, Oregon. Their classic Pilsner is a slightly sweet and crispy beer that pairs perfectly with your Thanksgiving holiday leftovers. Brewed in the traditional German style, this pilsner is more complex and layered than your typical pilsner.

Call for Comments

  • For what are you grateful in this season of thanksgiving?
  • Leave a comment to share what’s really helped you in life or running this year.
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.