From the Editor’s Desk: One Year in the Books

Not many people read the inaugural post on this website.

In fact, as I’m writing this column, a quick look into the site’s metadata tells me that the first article on the site – a story about the screening of “Run Free: The True Story of Caballo Blanco” that was published on Jan. 22 – has been viewed just five times. At least one of those viewings was done by me, and another by my girlfriend.

Suffice to say, the site has come a long way since then.

This is the 91st post on this site, and it closes out the first year of MassUltra.com.

I first toyed with the idea of starting a community-based ultrarunning news site back in 2012, shortly after I retired from the newspaper industry and was training for my first ultramarathon in Kansas City. I was submitting articles and photos occasionally to UltraRunning Magazine and TrailRunner Magazine, but I was burned out from the rigors of 12 years of daily deadlines and wasn’t yet ready to commit the time to consistent content generation that a website would require.

The idea of starting a website slipped from my mind until I moved to Massachusetts in 2015. I’d spent a tiny bit of time around TARC events prior to moving, and one of my earliest trailrunning friends ran TARC events before moving from Boston to Arizona, so I was mildly familiar with the Massachusetts ultra scene and had heard plenty of good things. Either way, the trails – no matter where they are – are where I feel most at home, and people who run them make me happy. The thought of starting a website returned last fall, and I chewed on the idea for a few months.

At first I worried that I didn’t know enough people to tell their stories. What better way to meet people than to interview them for articles?

Then I worried that I’m not the most knowledgeable person about Massachusetts ultras since I haven’t lived here very long. Well, you all – the runners – are the experts and know the trails best. Running with you and talking with you is a great way for me to learn.

Finally, I was concerned about being able to commit enough time to develop consistent content, cover races with the amount of attention that I think they deserve, and tell interesting, informative, fun stories that readers will enjoy. Time was the wild card, but I could live with that.

I started the site quietly with the intent to develop content and let readership grow organically as people stumbled upon it and spread the word to others. That’s probably why hardly anybody read that initial post, or the second one that has just three views, or the third that has been viewed just 10 times. You had no reason to know these stories existed at the time. Heck, there’s even one post that has yet to be viewed by anybody!

Things began to change when I ran the DRB 50K in April and posted a recap with a few photos. That’s the first story that received more than 10 views. A week later, I volunteered at the TARC Spring Classic, snapped a few photos, and posted a recap. That story received more than 50 views, and 50K winner Eric Ahern stumbled upon it and left the site’s first comment.

In June, Ana Wolf from the Berkshire Ultra Running Community for Service and race director for the Vegan Power 50K, came across the site and spread the word to the BURCS folks in western Massachusetts. The Vegan Power recap was the first story on the site to be viewed more than 100 times. Then, on July 1, Jeff LeBlanc shared a link to the site on the Trail Animals Running Club’s Facebook page and encouraged people to check it out.

Since then, the audience has grown and the stories have added up thanks to all of you.

I’m optimistic that both trends will continue into the new year and beyond.

As was the case throughout 2016, the site will remain a work in progress. Stories will be written as time allows. The weekly roundups will remain a staple of the site since they provide an easy and consistent way to keep an eye on the happenings of our community throughout the year, even when my day job keeps me too busy to work the phones or email.

My hope for 2017 is to be able to cover more races in person, profile more individuals, and feature more of your ultramarathon-type adventures – whether it’s a race, a FKT attempt, or a multi-day trail journey that covers a lot of ground. I have some ideas in mind, but I want to hear from you, too (editor@massultra.com). There are lots of great stories in our community just waiting to be told. I’m hopeful that we’ll share those stories here in 2017 and beyond.

Thanks for reading this year. I’ll see you on the trails soon.

Most Viewed Stories of 2016

  1. Scary-Fast: Caron Haunts Ghost Train Record Book with Sub-15-Hour 100-Miler – 1,382
  2. Live Coverage: TARC 100 – 677
  3. Buckle Up: Harvard Friends Strike Gold at Leadville – 613
  4. Andover’s Swenson Delivers Record-Setting Performance at TARC 100 – 456
  5. Tough Trails, Tougher Runners at the Fells Winter Ultra – 404
  6. Passing the Bar and Raising the Bar: Pietari’s Hectic Month Includes Harvard Law Degree, Top-10 Finish at Western States – 283
  7. Caron Sets New Standard at TARC Fall Classic – 255
  8. Trail Animals Aim to Give TARC 100 a Feel-Good Farewell – 230
  9. Telus, Brinkert Notch 100K Course Records at TARC 100 – 225
  10. Reign Before the Rain: Rusiecki Victorious, Dissinger 9th at Vermont 100 – 192
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