The Inspiration Of Friends

AJW writes about how his running is inspired by his friends’ running adventures.

By on September 16, 2016 | Comments

AJW's Taproom

This past Sunday on a relaxed run through town, as is often the case, I found my mind bouncing around to a wide range of things. Work, family, running, what’s for dinner, whatever. As I settled into the normalcy of running, the flow of the sultry late-summer afternoon was taking over.

After about 45 minutes, however, my attention centered upon three people who were in the midst of doing anything but normal. Three dear friends of mine who I have known for years. Three people who have been sources of motivation and inspiration for me since early in my running career. Three people who serve the sport in ways few others do. And three people who were in the midst of doing truly extraordinary things.

Three people named Don Freeman, Meghan Hicks, and Karl Meltzer.

Don, the founder and producer of the Trail Runner Nation podcast, was in the midst of running the Tahoe 200 Mile, his first attempt at running a 200-mile race. A veteran of many 100-mile races, Don was seeking to put his ‘train smarter not harder’ philosophy into practice over twice the distance he had ever covered before. I had last seen Don at his chiropractic studio following Western States in June and at the time he was flirting with the idea on the encouragement of Tahoe 200 Race Director Candice Burt, a regular on Trail Runner Nation. By August he had committed and as he told me in the days leading up to the race, “My plan is to hike the whole thing and run in and out of aid stations. :) This is most definitely not a 100-mile sprint from Squaw to Auburn.” While on my leisurely Sunday run, Don was battling through his third day on the trail. By midday Monday, he had finished and I could not have been more happy for him.

Meghan, who along with Bryon Powell are creators and editors of this website, iRunFar, was also in the midst of doing something extraordinary. As she had hinted at when I spoke with her at Hardrock in July, she had long wanted to attempt the Nolan’s 14 line, the stretch of 14 14,000-foot peaks in the heart of the Colorado Rockies. Motivated in part by the dearth of female runners at Hardrock–there were a scant 16 female starters out of 152 total competitors–Meghan hoped her quest across Nolan’s might motivate and inspire. While on my little Sunday jog, Meghan was on her 11th of 14 peaks and within another half day she completed the line faster than any other woman had before. It was an incredible accomplishment for a very special person.

And then there was Karl. Race Director of the Speedgoat 50k, long-time running coach for literally hundreds of runners, a true ambassador of the sport who has always walked to the beat of his own drummer, was in the midst of attempting to break Scott Jurek’s supported speed record on the Appalachian Trail. At the time of my stroll through my quiet neighborhood, Karl had just over a week to finish the trail and break the record. He was battling fatigue, hunger, and sleep deprivation. And, of course, he was doing it all with a positive attitude and the laser focus for which he is legendary. As of this publishing, he has just over two days to finish and he is pouring every last drop of energy into his effort. I, for one, really hope he gets it.

These three people, each in their own way, can inspire and motivate not just me but all of us, whether we are runners or not. As they give so much to our beloved sport, they also represent something truly special about our community. Within Don, Meghan, and Karl resides the deep-seated desire to challenge, to dig deep, and to overcome, not just in themselves but in others as well. For me, thinking deeply about these dear friends on their respective quests made for one heck of a Sunday afternoon run from which I returned with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. So for Don, Meghan, and Karl…

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

ballast-point-brewing-company-pineapple-sculpinThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from Ballast Point Brewing Company in San Diego, California. I’ll admit that I have been a reluctant convert to the fruit IPA movement but Ballast Point’s Pineapple Sculpin IPA sealed the deal for me. With just the right amount of sweetness to balance the signature hop-forward taste of Sculpin, this pineapple variety finds the perfect sweet spot and makes a delicious late-summer beer.

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

  • Do you ever use the activities, successes, or challenges of others to propel your own running? Can you give an example of this?
  • How about in other parts of your life? Do you become inspired enough by the actions of others to take action in your own life? Can you share an example of this as well?
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.