AJW's TaproomHello! My name is Andy Jones-Wilkins and I have UTMB envy and, sadly, I am not too proud to admit it. Each year at this time my heart aches for Chamonix and the incredible spectacle of the Ultra-Tour de Mont-Blanc. And this year, for some reason, the longing seems especially acute.

A few years back I was able to quell my anxiety and talk myself out of this envy when the race was altered due to bad weather and various issues conspired to make it seem like it was not such a great thing. But, alas, those were only cheap attempts at avoiding the reality of the situation, I really, really want to run this race and I am immensely jealous of those lucky souls who get to.

The rise of social media, of course, hasn’t helped the cause as each year the stories and images coming out of France every August are nothing short of incredible. There just seems to be something truly magical about this event and, quite frankly, I feel more and more left out. I am like that one kid in the class who didn’t get invited to the best party of the year.

Of course, it’s not like I don’t enjoy my fair share of ultrarunning debauchery. After all, every year I attend Western States and Hardrock and get to savor the gluttony that accompanies these events. And, over the years, I have found myself in the midst of some of the greatest ultra experiences a guy can have. So, what the heck am I complaining about?

And then, of course, the obvious question: If you want to run UTMB so much, why not just go there?

Well, I guess it’s just an example of wanting what you can’t have. You see, given my line of work, late August is just an impossible time for me to travel to Europe. As a career school person, this time of year is filled with meetings, planning, events, and beginnings. In truth, until I retire (or somehow figure out a way to finagle a sabbatical) going to UTMB just can’t happen. As such, I am left to wallow here on the home front while the rest of the ultra world revels in one of ultrarunning’s greatest spectacles.

So, to all of you over there in France this week, run a few miles for me and savor the opportunity to enjoy one of the world’s most amazing places. If you’re running the race, endeavor to leave it all out there. If you’re there as a crew or a spectator, enjoy the ride. And know, that back here stateside, one of ultrarunning’s biggest fans, is sitting on his phone enviously wishing he was there.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

Kettle House Brewing Cold Smoke Scotch AleOne of the most successful American men at UTMB over the years has been Montana’s Mike Foote. As such, it is only fitting that this week’s Beer of the Week comes from Footy’s home state. Kettle House Brewing Company in Missoula, Montant makes an outstanding Scotch Ale called Cold Smoke. While more fitting for a cold winter’s day, Cold Smoke is a great accompaniment to any runner’s post run arsenal of recovery beverages.

Call for Comments (from Bryon)

  • Do you dream of running UTMB?
  • What speaks to you most about UTMB?

There are 9 comments

  1. Jack

    Check the teaser out on trailrunner.com, it only makes it worse. I met a girl from France while I was hanging out in Silverton. She wss there hiking and said that her dad used to run ultras. She talked about the UTMB and how pretty it is there. My wheels are turning…

  2. Mark

    Truly a bad time for us teachers and administrators. However, one of the boxes on our absence report forms does state “compelling personal necessity” as am acceptable reason. Would UTMB qualify?

  3. Andy M

    I’m with Jack. The videos and superb twitter coverage from iRF have only made it worse. I thought my massif envy was bad before, but now it’s unbearable. And no, my run today run around our little east coast “mountain” did not help at all. Thanks a lot, iRunfar!

  4. Mir

    hi andy:
    i have the same feeling about WS100. i have tied 3 times now. still no luck. i am seriously giving up if i don’t get into WS100 this time. i have purchased the highest raffles ticket possible but still no luck.
    my last year qualification was UTMB and you are right. it is amazing race. i really enjoy the race. the real mountains in europe makes california’s elevation look like small hills. i was lucky to finish the race but again no luck for WS100.
    lets hope for this. it fit my off weeks so good in june 2017. hope to see you and other WS gurus in june.

  5. WeiDe

    Interestingly in Europe you have more and more people who dont want to do that race due to the masses of runners and also the Commercial aspect.

    You Need to collect the Points at races that pay a fee to UTMB. We have many great mountain races but they give no Points anymore. Ist it qualifying Points to sow you can run in the mountains or is it about making $$$?

    Also, watch some Videos from the middle of the pack, difficult to be alone on the trails. Something that is great at US races.

    Did you know that they were able to patent the Name Ultratrail? Meaning no other Event can Name their race Ultratrail, unless they pay a fee to UTMB for it…

    I have to go with Mir also; as a European i would love to do the iconic races such as WS (also 4th try this year in the lottery). You have history at those Events and Hardrock is truely a runners dream.

    1. AJW

      Thanks so much for the comment. Just let me say how fortunate I feel I am to have had the opportunity to run Western States not just once but 10 times! It literally changed my life. Now, in retirement I will continue to savor my time there as a volunteer, cheerleader, crew and pacer for as long as they welcome me back. It is truly an iconic event and I hope you get a chance to run it some day.

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