With Gratitude on Thanksgiving Weekend

AJW gives thanks to members of the trail running and ultrarunning community.

By on November 29, 2019 | Comments

AJW's TaproomIt’s hard for me to believe that in the over eight years I’ve been writing AJW’s Taproom, I have never written a ‘giving thanks’ article. Well, it’s never too late to start a new custom so here, on America’s Thanksgiving weekend of 2019, is the first installment of what will hopefully become an annual tradition of giving thanks to the people of the trail running and ultrarunning community.

First, I am thankful for the race directors. The selfless, hard-working folks who toil endlessly to create experiences that change lives. To Craig Thornley and Dale Garland, the RDs of the two most popular 100 milers in North America, the Western States 100 and Hardrock 100, thanks for maintaining your events’ respective cultures in the midst of extraordinary popularity. To Candice Burt, whose race-directing focus on the 200 miler provides athletes with different opportunities to stretch themselves. To James Varner and Jason Green, who, with decidedly different styles, have created unique events with Rainshadow Running and Yeti Trail Runners that are presented with consistently high quality and have brought scores of new runners into the sport over the past years. And to all the rest of the RDs out there, thank you!

Second, I am grateful for those ultra athletes who use sport to benefit the greater good. Athletes who are able to use their ‘celebrity’ to inspire others in ways that go beyond running. To Clare Gallagher and Jared Campbell for steadfastly advocating for more sustainable policies and practices regionally, nationally, and globally. To Amelia Boone, who through the sharing of her own story, has raised awareness for disordered eating in the running sphere and shown vulnerability and acceptance along the way. I give thanks to Dave Mackey who has inspired a generation of endurance athletes with disabilities and to Rob Krar who, through his openness and sincerity, has brought attention to the extraordinary challenge of confronting depression on a daily basis. To all of you athletes and the countless others who inspire us everyday, thank you!

Thirdly, I would like to extend a debt of gratitude to my mentors, the elders of the sport. We are so fortunate in the trail running and ultrarunning community to have individuals who are willing to share their wisdom with us. And to share that wisdom in ways that is borne from experience and accessible to us all. So thank you Tom Nielsen, Scott Mills, David Horton, Roch Horton, and John Medinger. The five of you have seen and done more for the sport in your lifetimes than just about anyone else I know and a generation of trail runners and ultrarunners, myself especially, owe you a debt of gratitude. Thank you to ultrarunning’s ‘council of elders’ and please stick around the sport for many more years, we need you.

The powerful, tribal nature of the trail running and ultrarunning community is something that is written and spoken about often. And, as new people come to the sport it is typically one of the first things they realize is different. Part of what makes this particular community so unique and special is that each person matters. For those who have been around the sport for a while, like the 15 individuals I’ve referred to above, that sentiment is particularly acute and why on this Thanksgiving I wish to thank them all deeply and personally.

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

This week’s Beer of the Week is a Thanksgiving special from one of the original craft brewpubs in Bend, Oregon. A longtime staple in the holiday beer market, Deschutes Brewery’s Jubelale is a classic Winter Ale that is warming and crisp at the same time. Each year it is slightly different based on the whims of the brew master, but in my experience it is always good!

Call for Comments (from Meghan)

On this American Thanksgiving weekend, who do you think about and feel thankful for in the trail running and ultrarunning community?

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.