Taproom AJWA few years ago, a group of college classmates and I hesitated whether or not to go to our class’s 30th anniversary reunion. Citing all the usual obstacles like work, family and more, we were all pretty close to giving it all up when one of the high schoolers in our group chimed in:

“Hey guys, I think you should all leave. I was at a reunion a few years ago and it was food for the soul.”

With these words, we were all somehow persuaded to go, and a week later we were all planning to go. And, as you might expect, we had a wonderful weekend, which really turned out to be food for the soul.

In recent years, I have often been asked why I return to Western 100 states year after year, especially since I haven’t raced in eight years. People wonder why I spend a whole week of my life flying across the country, renting a car, and camping along the way, just to attend a race in downtown California. After all, is there really nothing else for me to do? Isn’t that a lot of money just to watch a race?

Tim Tollefson at the finish line

Tim Tollefson at the 2021 Western States 100 finish in fifth place. Photo: iRunFar/Alex Potter

And, the simple answer is no. From my perspective, there is no better way for me to spend the last weekend of June than by volunteering, watching and supporting America’s oldest and most prestigious 100 Mile Race. For me, it’s food for the soul.

Every year something happens in Western States that surprises and inspires me. You’d think that after 20 years of racing, I’d seen it all. But no. Western States has a way of bringing out the best in people, individually and collectively, and the lessons I learned at this event have carried over into my life for over two decades.

Whether it’s watching an extraordinary elite performance at the forefront, giving support to a 24-hour runner who wants to fall but chooses to keep going even after the dream of the Silver Buckle is gone, or standing on the Placer High School treadmill to call for the last a few finishers during the Golden Hour before the race cutoff Western States gives me something that nothing else does – a big old generous helping of food for my soul.

Silver buckle

Runners who finish less than 24 hours are awarded a custom-made silver belt buckle, while all who finish less than 30 hours receive a bronze buckle. Photo: iRunFar/Alex Potter

So, as you read this shortly before the 2022 race, I am in Olympic Valley at the start of the competition, hard at work getting ready for one of the best days of the year. A day of triumph over adversity, a day of hope in the midst of despair, and a day that truly and unconditionally is the pure triumph of the essence of the human spirit. I wouldn’t miss it for anything in the world.

To the dregs!

AJW Beer of the Week

Tahoe National Brewing Company logoThis week’s beer of the week comes from Tahoe National Brewing Company in Tahoe City, California. Tahoe National Park Kaiser K├Âlsch it is a unique interpretation of the classic style. Fresh and slightly fruity, Kaiser Kolsch is less cloying than other beers in this style and quite mild. For anyone in the area waiting for Western States to open, this little Lake Tahoe brewery is a gem.

Call for comments

  • What place, race or trail running and ultramarathon experience is food for your soul?
  • If you run, support, or otherwise follow the western states this week, what part of the event excites and charges you the most?

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