I have written often in this space about the strong sense of community that exists in the ultrarunning culture of which I have been part for 20 years. It is certainly one of the most endearing aspects of our sport and one which is often cited as a truly unique part of what makes running long (and sometimes) in the mountains so special. Therefore, it was with great interest that I learned about a PhD project currently underway.
Ultrarunner Ian MacNairn is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology and Archaeology at the University of Calgary in Canada and his work is primarily in the field of social and cultural anthropology. In his doctoral project, Ian is specifically examining how community is built through sport and has chosen ultrarunning as the case study for the project. At this time, he is recruiting participants for the project. I have agreed to participate and I am writing to urge others to do so as well.
A series of essential questions will form the foundation of the inquiry. What type of community is formed through sport, generally, and ultrarunning in particular? What kinds of relationships are formed through running? How do ultrarunners contend with challenges in ultrarunning and how do ultrarunners access support within their community?
The study will use ethnographic methods, which involve interviews with participants, observations at ultramarathons and training sessions, and collected artifacts. These artifacts can be in the form of race reports, photographs, and online-accessed materials. Ultimately, all of the primary-source material and artifacts will be collated and included in Ian’s dissertation.
As a 20-year veteran of the sport, I am eager to participate in this project. From my perspective, the sense of community that is nurtured out of the sport of ultrarunning is extraordinary. I think a serious, academic examination of the ultraunning community could serve to dispel myths about the sport, focus attention on something immensely important to all humans, and paint the sport we love so much in a wonderfully positive light.
If you would like to volunteer to participate in this study, and I strongly suggest you do, you can see the instructions contained in the Call for Comments section below the beer review. I hope you will all consider becoming involved.
Amy Albu’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week is a guest beer review from Virginia ultrarunner and current Beast Series (a series of six Virginia ultramarathons) leader Amy Albu. I was visiting her at her place in Arlington, Virginia last month and learned that she lives directly above a full-blown brewery, Sehkraft Brewing. It is truly an ultrarunner’s dream home. Needless to say, Amy spends a fair amount of time down there in the brewery after her runs and earlier this week had the opportunity to have a limited edition Three Notch’d/Sehkraft Collaboration Pumpkin IPA. Here is her take on it:
Call for Comments