Year in Review: 2021 started out with a couple negatives and got better from there

A collage of nine square images from 2021. Four are selfies of Vanessa Junkin, one is a photo of her holding shoes, another is of clothes, another is a giveaway, one is her finishing a race and one is of her running through muddy water.
A collage of my most-liked Instagram photos in 2021, which includes Brooks Run Happy Team giveaways and a shipment I received from Brooks, along with photos from the Philadelphia Marathon, my birthday run, the Salisbury Half Marathon, the Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon and the Algonquin 50K.

Another year is behind us! 2021 got off to a bad start when I was hit by a car while out for a short run near my house. It’s no surprise that was my most-read post of 2021 (as any reporter knows, if it bleeds, it leads). Thankfully, after a couple weeks off to rest, I returned to running and was able to do a lot of cool things in 2021. I’ll look back on the year, using the same format as past years.

Goals: Looking Back

After not meeting any of my running goals in 2020, I actually met three of my four goals for 2021. Here they were…

Run a mile (or 1600 meters) at the beginning of each month for speed. At the beginning of every month in 2021, I ran 1600 meters at the Bennett Middle School track. My times ranged from 8:18 to 8:49.

Run the Algonquin 50K faster than I did in 2017. Unfortunately, my 2021 attempt at the Algonquin 50K ended in a DNF (did not finish). In my second-most-read post published in 2021, I wrote about the experience, which included a lot of mud and bad weather.

Run a marathon in a new state. After a somewhat long stretch between marathons (March 2020 to November 2021), I was able to run a marathon in a new state — Pennsylvania — at the Philadelphia Marathon. I’ve now run marathons in nine states.

Beat two of my distance times from last year. In 2021, I was able to beat my 2020 times for the half marathon, at the Salisbury Half Marathon, and the 10K, at the Mike Sterling 10K.

I didn’t set a mileage goal, but I logged 1,267.12 miles — less than I did in 2020, 2019 and 2018, but more than I logged in the years prior to that. I did hit a new personal record for annual blog views.


Not every race was back in 2021 because of the continuing pandemic, but there were certainly more in-person opportunities than in 2020. Per usual, I raced a lot. I ran three 5Ks; three 10Ks; five half marathons, including one as a pacer; and one marathon. I also participated in 11 other running events, some of which were virtual mileage challenges or other virtual opportunities.


Vanessa Junkin poses in running clothes. A digital race bib with the Salisbury Zoo logo and number 42 is in the corner. Text says 3.11 mi, 29:24 time and 9:27/mi pace.

Virtual Zoo Stampede 5K

Run, White and Blue 5K

Run Happy Fest 5K

Fastest time of 2021: Virtual Zoo Stampede 5K — 29:24
Faster than 2020? No


Vanessa Junkin holds up a Bay Bridge Run medal.

Mike Sterling 10K

Skipjack Run 10K

Bay Bridge Run

Fastest time of 2021: Bay Bridge Run — 1:04:13
Faster than 2020? Yes

Half Marathons

Vanessa Junkin crosses the finish line of the Salisbury Half Marathon.

Salisbury Half Marathon

Run for the Animals Half Marathon

Rock ‘n’ Roll Virginia Beach Half Marathon

GPS Half Marathon

Rehoboth Beach Seashore Half Marathon (pacer)

Fastest time of 2021: Salisbury Half Marathon — 2:20:31
Faster than 2020? Yes


Vanessa Junkin poses with her medal in front of a fountain with a statue after the Philadelphia Marathon.

Philadelphia Marathon

Only time of 2021: 5:34:20
Faster than 2020? No

Other Distances

Vanessa Junkin poses in front of a metal Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge sign/piece of artwork against a clear blue sky. Grass is in the foreground.

Algonquin 50K — DNF

#FinishTheRun Virtual Run

DICK’s Sporting Goods Pittsburgh Marathon Virtual Relay

National Day of Awareness MMIW Virtual Run

Run to Escape: Mission Mt. Olympus (virtual experience)

Cascade Run Off Redux 15K (virtual)

eRACE Racism (virtual mileage challenge)

Tour de Salisbury (12 courses on Delmarva)

Naylor Mill 7K

Race Across Maryland (virtual mileage challenge)

Pemberton 24

I ran in some fun places:

I tested these products (discount codes no longer valid):

Other Highlights

Selfie of Vanessa Junkin wearing winter beanie and holding handmade award that says "No mugs... just hugs! 50K Redemption Run Trap Pond 2/21/21" with a broken heart on it. Text reads "Running - Distance 31.10 mi, Time 8:29:02, Pace 16:22/mi

I joined the Brooks Run Happy Team and returned as a BibRave Pro. Each of these groups had a virtual get-together weekend, since we weren’t able to meet up in person.

After not finishing the Algonquin 50K, my friends and I ran our own 50K the following week.

I enjoyed another year as secretary of the Eastern Shore Running Club and had fun during group runs and socials with fellow club members.

I did a 31-kilometer run on my 31st birthday.

I met a couple distant family members at the Bay Bridge Run.

I got to meet Meb Keflezighi (for the third time), Aliphine Tuliamuk (for the first time) and Bart Yasso (I’ve met him multiple times) at the Philadelphia Marathon. I also participated in a virtual BibRave book club with Dean Karnazes.

I participated in Angie Maske-Berka’s 100 Miles in November for the fourth year.

After an eventful 2021, I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do in 2022. Stay tuned for my 2022 goals in the next post.

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