Grateful for the community – iRunFar

AJW's TaproomIn this season of gratitude, I find myself reflecting back on what has been a long and fulfilling year for me. After several years of social isolation and various disruptions on the work and running front, I am immensely grateful to the running community and the various ways the interconnectedness of the trail running world has provided me with comfort, sustenance and connection in the midst of transformation and change.

First and foremost, I am grateful to the iRunFar community. For the past 11 years I have had the honor and privilege of writing a column three times a month for this website and Bryon and Megan always been supportive and encouraging. This year in particular, their steady hands and warm hearts have enlivened my work on the column and inspired me to reflect deeply on my longtime involvement with the sport. In addition, iRunFar has brought in a new editor this year, Sarah Bradywho, although I never met her in person, was a nice presence by my side as I tried to put into words my often confused and conflicting thoughts.

As part of Carmichael Training Systems’ ultra-running coaching group, I have been inspired and motivated by the team of coaches assembled there. Energetic, smart and highly skilled, these coaches, whom I meet weekly, provide a consistent wealth of support and guidance while also serving as a backdrop in which I find myself constantly learning and growing. In addition, the privilege of working with 20 athletes from all walks of life striving to achieve their goals and dreams has provided a steady stream of motivation and purpose.

AJW and his dog Josey, a black dog with curly hair

Andy Jones-Wilkins and his dog, Josey, back in Arizona in 2022.

For those who are regular readers of AJW’s Taproom column, you know that for the past six months, after being gone for over 20 years, my wife Shelly and I moved back to our beloved Valley of the Sun in Arizona. Now that I have reacquainted myself with my desert home, I am immensely grateful to the Aravaipa Running community that has welcomed me with open arms. The sense of community that visionary founder of the company Jamil Coury has nurtured and nurtured at Aravaipa is one of the strongest I have been a part of. From the laid-back weekly group runs to the large-scale events Aravaipa hosts throughout the year, this is a group that works to bring together a huge cross-section of the community through a shared set of values.

My annual trip to the Western States 100 the end of June reaffirmed for me my long-held belief that the event is so much more than just a race. During my time in California over the race weekend, my interactions with the participants, race organizers, volunteers and friends of the race represented to me another triumph of the human spirit. While the race has grown and evolved in significant ways over the past 15 years, the essence of the Western States 100 remains the same and the community surrounding the event continues to be a source of sustenance for me that brightens up my summer each year.

Finally, in September, my eldest son Carson married in Colorado. As part of the celebration, four of my best ultra-running friends, Chris and Craig Thornley, Scott Wolfe, and Bryon Powell, put their lives on hold to join our family celebration. Often seen as our sons’ adopted uncles, Chris, Craig, Scott and Bryon epitomize the ways running creates connections and bonds that transcend ordinary life. Celebrating our first son’s wedding with such a close-knit group of friends was truly the highlight of my year, and I am deeply grateful for those friendships.

Group photo at the wedding of the author's son.

AJW with friends and family at his son, Carson’s wedding. Photo: Joan Anderson

Here’s to another year full of gratitude!

Bottoms up!

AJW’s Beer of the Week

pFriem Family BrewersThis week’s Beer of the Week comes from pFriem Family Brewers in Hood River, Oregon. Their classic Pilsner is a slightly sweet and crisp beer that goes perfectly with your Thanksgiving holiday leftovers. Brewed in the traditional German style, this pilsner is more complex and layered than your typical pilsner.

Call for comments

  • What are you thankful for in this time of thanksgiving?
  • Leave a comment to share what really helped you in life or running this year.

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