The Best Of iRunFar In 2017

Next year is nearly upon us! At iRunFar’s headquarters, we are busting at the seams with big plans for 2018, and we hope you are readying your own life and running adventures, too. Reflecting on iRunFar’s annual body of work is not only helping us plan for next year, but it also allows us to celebrate how far we’ve come. (Oh yeah, and we also fix typos we missed along the way.) Join us in looking back at iRunFar’s year!

First, I couldn’t be more proud of iRunFar’s editors, columnists, contributors, and volunteers–what iRunFar does is truly a team effort. Thank you so much to each of you. Here are a few stats from this year which exemplify the iRunFar team effort:

  • Together our team will have created 490 articles when it’s all said and done in a couple days. That’s one (or more!) every weekday of the year.
  • We covered 13 of the most globally competitive races from way before their start until way after their finish, and conducted 148 interviews with top runners along the way.
  • We were supported by 77 volunteers who donated hundreds of collective hours to help bring you our live race coverage from remote mountaintops, villages, and other obscure locations all over planet Earth.

With this article, we highlight what we think we did best this year: from our columnists’ thoughtful, courageous, and time-consuming efforts to the most interesting reader-driven discussions, from our race-related interviews and live coverage to our experts’ recommendations for healthy and joyful running, and from our reviews of the best trail running gear out there to trail running how-tos which make this sport accessible to us all.

Before we dive into the details, Bryon Powell and I want to thank all of you for supporting iRunFar this year. Thank you to everyone who followed our race coverage, read our articles, and left great comments. Thank you to those of you who supported iRunFar financially. Our team continues to be inspired by this sport’s community.

Now, to 2018 and beyond! Happy New Year!

You can also check out our best-of articles from 20102012, 2013, 20142015, and 2016.

Support iRunFar in 2018

Join iRunFar on PatreonYou may have noticed that we’ve just become a creator on Patreon. We’d love for you to join our budding Patreon community and support us as we head into 2018.

In case you didn’t know, iRunFar is an independent media outlet, which means that no parent company or brand tells us what to publish, who to interview, or what races to cover. Maintaining iRunFar’s editorial independence isn’t easy, but we’re committed to it.

Over on Patreon, we will aim to provide behind-the-scenes views into the world of the iRunFar team.

Don’t worry, though, everything you see here on the website will remain 100% free and accessible to everyone, as will all of our race coverage. In fact, going forward you can be one of the amazing folks marking that happen. Thank you for considering supporting iRunFar in 2018!

Running Resources

We want to help you run far, fast, healthy, happy, or whatever else drives you in this sport. At this point in its long life, iRunFar is a literal library of resources about training, physical therapy, mental health, and general well-being. In 2017, we added to that library. Here are a few examples:

Training and Physical Health

iRunFar published Joe Uhan’s five-part series on runners’ functional mobility in January through July of this year. Check out Part 1 on hip mobilityPart 2 on trunk rotational mobilityPart 3 on foot and ankle mobilityPart 4 on knee mobility, and Part 5 on trunk extension.

Running With Asthma, Part 1 — The Trail Sisters–comprised of columnists Gina Lucrezi, Liza Howard, and Pam Smiyh–write about dealing with asthma as a trail and ultrarunner.

Wheat, Wheat, Don’t Tell Me! — The Trail Sisters’s Pam Smith, a medical doctor, offers this primer on wheat, gluten, and digestion and health issues related to them.

Am I Going To Get (Type II) Diabetes From Ultrarunning? — In the Running on Science column, columnist Corrine Malcolm delves into the science behind blood-glucose level and insulin response as they relate to sugar intake in endurance runners.

Baby On Board: Long-Distance Running During Pregnancy — A thorough review of the scientific literature on long-distance running during pregnancy by Running on Science columnist Tracy Beth Høeg MD, PhD.

General Well-Being and Mental Health

Allowing For Miracles: Great Runs Under Imperfect Circumstances — iRunFar Editor-in-Chief Bryon Powell wrote about allowing for ‘miracle’ runs by getting out the door under less than ideal circumstances.

A Hoop And A Holler — This is columnist Zach Miller’s lovely expression of how he was coping with the post-100-mile blues following the 2017 UTMB.

Travel and Adventure

It Is Not Just I; It Is You And Us And Here’s Why — Senior Editor Meghan Hicks narrates her month of traveling and working in New Zealand.

Madeira Island: Tiny Island, Big Story — Bryon Powell and Meghan Hicks traveled to the Portuguese island of Madeira for a week to experience the island and participate in the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail.

Trail Running On La Réunion — Meghan Hicks’s destination article for La Réunion, the French island in the middle of the Indian Ocean that’s crazy about trail running.

Lakes Life: Visiting And Running In England’s Lake District — Bryon Powell and Meghan Hicks wrote this in-depth destination piece on England’s Lake District after visiting for a few weeks in 2017.

General Editorial Articles

With iRunFar’s 2017 body of work, we tried to organically, deeply, and truthfully turn a mirror upon the sport, its community, and its pressing issues. Here are some meaningful articles to emerge from the editorial fray this year:

Bigger-Picture Issues

The state of women in the sport of trail running and ultrarunning: the Trail Sisters took this on twice in 2017, first with an article that discussed prize-money equality and second with a discussion about pay equality.

Connections — Columnist Dakota Jones writes about the the problems and opportunities created by airplane travel.

Public Lands — Dakota Jones writes about the 2017 Utah public-lands debate.


In The Absence Of Fear — Columnist Joe Grant writes about how an understanding of the unknown can dissipate fear of it.

Recycling The Body — A creative essay about using biking for mental catharsis when injured from running by contributor Andrew Titus.

Crouching Rock: Paleo-Me And You — Creative writing about the primal drive to scan for danger when trail running by contributor Sandy Stott.


Barkley Marathons Change Of Ownership Press Release — Columnist Andy Jones-Wilkins’s annual April Fool’s Day joke, and a number of you (at least temporarily) fell for it. He really can’t help himself.

Race Coverage

This was our eighth full year of covering races around the world! I am proud of how we told race stories: from before the start to after the finish, with robust front-of-the-pack play-by-play, with information about host environments and communities, and doing it in as unobtrusive manner as we could for the runners and the environment. Check out some of our favorite stories from our 2017 race coverage:

Race-Related Articles

Columnist Justin Mock ‘penned’ iRunFar’s This Week in Running column almost every Monday this year. His job of scouring the internet to round up emerging race news from around the planet every week is a challenging one!

2017 UTMB Photo Gallery — A gorgeous photo gallery from the 2017 UTMB by photographer Kirsten Kortebein.

Video and Written Interviews

Courtney Dauwalter set an American record for the 24-hour race twice in 2017. Here’s an interview from her first time setting the record at the Riverbank One Day Classic.

Basque Country’s Maite Maiora calls the Zegama-Aizkorri Marathon her favorite race because it’s a local, spirited event. After several top finishes and even a DNS with injury, she finally won the race this year. Her interview at the finish line is an emotional one.

Cat Bradley won the 2017 Western States 100 with a smooth, controlled, all-day effort. Watch her lighthearted post-race interview.

Kilian Jornet won the Hardrock 100… again. But this time he dislocated his shoulder early in the race and continued on. His post-race interview is hilarious for how casual he is about how grueling it must have been.

Tim Freriks made winning the uber-competitive The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 Mile Championships look easy, breezy. Watch his post-race interview.

The Personal Side of Trail and Ultrarunning

Our human side is one of our sport’s better sides. At our core, I think we are a community of good, similarly minded, supportive, strong humans. This year iRunFar tried to tell the stories of the people who make up our sport. These are a few of those stories:

Profiles and Interviews

WeRunFar Profile: Steve and Wynn Cliff — Steve and Wynn Cliff are icons of the Lake District fell running community in England. Steve suffers from Motor Neuron Disease and is fundraising for research on the disease, and he and his team have raised 921,000 U.S. Dollars. This is the Just Giving fundraising campaign from Steve’s Joss Naylor Challenge a few years ago, which Steve has kept open to facilitate donations. You can support Steve’s fundraising efforts there.

WeRunFar Profile: Tom Green — Many-decade ultrarunner Tom Green suffered a life-threatening injury in 2015. In 2016, he returned to ultrarunning, In 2017, he met his goal of finishing yet a 100 miler post-injury.

Race Reports

The White Whale of Tennessee: John Kelly’s 2017 Barkley Marathons Report — This year, John Kelly became the Barkley Marathons’s 15th finisher.

Camille Herron’s 2017 Comrades Marathon Report — Camille Herron won the Comrades Marathon by going out assertively and hanging strong. This is her report.

Non-Race and FKT Stuff

Iker Karrera Post-Nolan’s 14 Fastest Known Time Interview — In August, Spain’s Iker Karrera set a new fastest known time on the Nolan’s 14 line in the Sawatch Range of Colorado.

Joe McConaughy’s Appalachian Trail Self-Supported FKT Interview — Columnist Eric Senseman interviews Joe McConaughy after his Appalachian Trail self-supported FKT.

François D’haene’s Supported John Muir Trail FKT Interview — In October, François D’haene reset the supported fastest known time (FKT) for the 223-mile John Muir Trail in California’s Sierra Nevada.

‘Canyon Cat:’ Cat Bradley’s Grand Canyon R2R2R FKT Report — Cat Bradley’s report from setting the Grand Canyon Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim fastest known time in November, in Arizona.


Discipline, Purpose, And The Capacity To Dream — AJW writes about what, after all these years, keeps him coming back to running.

A Letter of Gratitude to Mother Nature — Columnist Aliza Lapierre writes a beautiful letter of gratitude to Mother Nature.

Gear Reviews

We are selective of the gear about which we publish reviews. iRunFar reviews what we think are some of the best and most important shoes and gear to hit the trail and ultra market, after testing plenty more products. Here are a couple of those reviews:


Inov-8 Roclite 305 Review — Gear reviewer Kristin Zosel took on the trail running shoe made with some fell running features by Inov-8, the Roclite 305.

Hoka One One Speedgoat 2 Review — After a hiatus, gear reviewer Travis Liles returned to iRunFar with his new-and-improved video reviews, and he reviewed the second version of the Hoka One One Speedgoat 2.


Nathan VaporKrar 4L Race Vest And WaistPak Review — Gear reviewer Tom Caughlan reviewed one of his favorite couple pieces of gear for the year, the Nathan VaporKrar 4L Race vest and WaistPak.

Our Memories

I often imagine that iRunFar is gigantic microscope observing the sports of trail running and ultrarunning. After staring down the microscope for another year, Bryon and I share a couple of our favorite observations of 2017.

Bryon’s Favorite Moments

Even if racing ended up not being a focus of mine in 2017, I’ll never forget jumping in a mid-week, run-from-and-to-the-pub fell race in England’s Lake District. It was the sort of intimate, personal… and grueling affair that I’d always imagined a fell race to be, and I loved everything about it. I’m left wanting more.

Speaking of personal, I feel I made another brother this year on the night after the Zegama Marathon in Basque Country. Despite an exhausting day for both of us, unbounded enthusiasm and camaraderie flew back and forth as Alberto Aierbe, one of the Zegama’s race directors, and I spoke passionately about the mountains, the sort of people they call, and the amazing communities they engender. This is all done in Castellano (awkwardly in my case), but the message couldn’t have been clearer. Txotx!

In large part, my 2017 went sideways, not always in the most pleasant of ways. That’s why my nine-day, 250-mile run from home across the breadth of Utah’s Bear Ears National Monument was so important and, in the end, so necessary. It was time for me to get away from life and thoughts and obligations and fully immerse myself in bipedal locomotion across unimaginable wilds in my own company. I’ve yet to write about this adventure here on iRunFar, but I look forward to doing so in 2018.

Meghan’s Favorite Moments

I have a couple memories which stand out from 2017. I can never appropriately convey how incredible iRunFar’s volunteer race-coverage family is. No matter where we are trying to cover a race around the world and in difficult circumstances, there are always volunteers eager to help. We have volunteers who sit at computers all night long receiving information from our field reporters, who climb up on 14,000-plus-foot Handies Peak during the Hardrock 100 in a hail storm to send out live news, who stand out in truly epic downpours of rain with smiles on their faces, and so much more. The devotion of our team to the cause of telling stories fills my heart with love.

Another memory, François D’haene and Kilian Jornet went one-two at the 2017 UTMB. While both are well-loved by trail running and ultrarunning fans, European fans and media can get downright obsessive over Kilian. I admired the way that Kilian continually attempted to steer fans cheering and media inquiries from him to François, the race’s champion. I found his actions to be both humble and bold.

iRunFar’s Biggest Blooper

We were taking a morning flight off the Portuguese island of Madeira, to mainland Europe, after each of us running one of the events at the Madeira Island Ultra-Trail. On our way from the hotel to the airport, the rental car died… on a highway, on a curve, in a traffic lane, in a tunnel. We had to simultaneously try to keep other cars whizzing into the tunnel from hitting us, flag down people to help push the car into one of the tunnel’s emergency parking spots, and run to the end of the tunnel where there was enough cell service to call roadside assistance. Fortunately, Madeirans are some of the friendliest people ever, and everyone from the people on the road to the airline-customer-service people were so helpful in getting us to the airport and off their island safely.

iRunFar’s Best Photos

Caw Fell race

A runner bombing the grass downhill in the short but brutal Caw Fell Race in England’s Lake District in the spring of 2017. Photo: iRunFar/Meghan Hicks

Francois D'haene and Kilian Jornet at 2017 UTMB

François D’haene and Kilian Jornet finished first and second at the 2017 UTMB in a historic duel. Kirsten Kortebein captured their quiet embrace amidst the frenetic finish line and reminds us of what is at the core of our sport. Photo: Kirsten Kortebein

Fall in Leadville

A freak pre-fall snowstorm in Leadville, Colorado turned the mountains white and the aspens all colors of the rainbow. Photo: iRunFar/Bryon Powell

Joe Grant Longs Peak photo

Joe Grant captured, at once, beauty and harshness in the snow, light, wind, and rock of Colorado’s Longs Peak in December of 2017. Photo: Joe Grant

Call for Comments

  • What were your favorite iRunFar articles this year and why?
  • What were your favorite video and written interviews this year? And your favorite moments from those interviews?
  • Which races did you most enjoy following on iRunFar? Are there moments from within the race coverage that you remember most?
  • What would you like to see or see more of from iRunFar in 2018?
Meghan Hicks

is the Managing Editor of iRunFar and the author of 'Where the Road Ends: A Guide to Trail Running.' The converted road runner finished her first trail ultramarathon in 2006 and loves using running to visit the world's wildest places.