No More to Give – Dakota Jones at the 2011 TNF 50 Mile

A lot has been said already about the race last weekend, but the truth is that we’re regular people who run a lot. Nothing more. But we also run really hard when we have the chance. Saturday was a good example of that. I ran harder than ever before, and called on every bit of experience I had in the sport to run beyond my limits. What would last year have been an inconceivable level of pain was instead an exciting challenge of endurance – the kind of effort that is mentally and physically exhausting but highly fulfilling as a result.

Competition brings out the best in us. Sometimes I relish the beauty of running alone in the mountains, while other time other times I revel in the challenge of extreme competition. The best is being able to combine the two, and the races in Marin County have proven to be the purest representation of that ideal: the sickest competition amongst a landscape of unparalleled beauty. That area doesn’t have the striking prominence of Chamonix nor the untouched wildness of the San Juans, but it does have some pretty big mountains next to a really big ocean, and I think that’s a good compromise. The trails are steep and difficult but not enough to prohibit hard running most of the time, though by the end we felt like we could barely move at all. Here is a summary of my race: I ran really hard for a long time, then took second place. That’s basically it.

Sure, there’s more. The pack at the start was huge, way too huge to be realistic. I knew most of those guys wouldn’t hold on later in the race, but I let them push the pace anyway. We all did. We fed off each other because we’re all extremely competitive and have a huge desire for success. The race progressed. I moved into the front and wondered if I would be able to hold on to my position later in the race. When Alex Nichols fell we all stopped to help him because that’s what you do. Then from Stinson Beach I ran with Mike Wolfe.

Mike is a good friend of mine. We’ve raced each other several times and hung out a bit here and there, but we really got to know each other during Saturday’s race. Not because we were talking. We weren’t. But somehow the experience of defining the very best in ourselves brings us to respect the best in each other. I am positive that competition with him brought out more in me than I could have possibly displayed otherwise, and I’d like to think the same could be said for him.

Mike Wolfe Dakota Jones 2011 TNF 50 Cardiac

Mike and Dakota bettering one another along the Pacific Ocean. Photo: Bryon Powell

Running with Mike was a perfect example of how great this sport is – we wanted each other to succeed. Every now and then he’d look back and say, “what a cool birthday run, Dakota”, or “you’re awesome for doing this at 21.” I’d grunt something equally profound in reply and we’d keep on running. Frankly, by the 35-mile mark I didn’t have the ability to talk much at all. The race was consuming every part of me, leaving nothing to spare. I saw very little beyond the trail after that point, and was unsure at all times how much longer I could continue at that pace. I could hardly wait to be done.

Yet I knew that the time would pass no matter what, that the race would be over whether I dropped out or won, and I had no reason to stop. The thought of how this page would look if I gave up was more of an incentive to keep going than the pain was an incentive to stop, as it represented my personal success or failure. I judge myself by my true output, results aside. As I watched Mike pull away from me on the last climb my thoughts were not bitter. He was a better runner that day; I had nothing left. No more to give. That’s fine. I’m proud of that.

So I ran a race and I did well and that’s that. Do not take me or the others for more than we are. The experience was powerful but in the grand scheme of things we just ran really hard for a long period of time. Don’t lose perspective. I love what I do and I love the opportunity to do it with other like-minded, highly talented people like those that were in Marin County on Saturday. I also love throwing corked 360 superdude’s on Xbox with my roommates. I love putting every part of me on the line for a goal, and I love coming away from that experience fulfilled and sitting down for a few hours with a good book. I love good music, good food, good people and good goals. Most of all I love the future and all the good things it holds for us. That’s what is most important – not what we did last weekend, but what we’ve got coming up. Dream big.

Dakota Jones Mike Wolfe 2011 TNF 50 mile finish

Dakota and Mike congratulate one another at the finish. Photo: Brett Rivers

[Dakota Jones of the Montrail Trail Running Team displays his speed and joie de vivre on mountain trails around the world when he’s not studying at Colorado States University. He occasionally writes for iRunFar. You can read more of Dakota’s writing on his blog, Living the Dream.]

There are 17 comments

  1. Ellie

    Is there an official Dakota Jones fan club? If so, I'm joining! No doubt you are in part an amazing runner Dakota for the mindset you clearly have. Amazing race and thank for sharing your thoughts, something I think we can all learn something from.

  2. Tony Mollica

    Nice RR Dakota! You have it so much more together than I did at 21!

    Birthday races are great! I won the over 30 AG last May on my 53rd birthday. (At a pace you could have done hopping on one foot.) It was such a wonderful way to celebrate a birthday!

  3. Mike B.

    Dakota,

    Your attitude toward running and life is more inspiring than your running. One of the great things about this sport is the people. Thank you.

  4. Wes

    Very, very nice. And what a perfect thing to read as I sit here less than 10hrs before the start of the Hellgate 100k, my first ultra in almost 10 years.

    At 21, Dakota, you have the perspective of not only someone much older than yourself, but someone much wiser than most

  5. larissa

    Are you sure you are only 21? :) love your perspective, well said. And congrats on an incredible race (and Hardrock lottery!). I second Ellie's thoughts about a fan club. I'd like to subscribe.

  6. Chris

    WOW – That final paragraph was…I am at a loss for words, and that does not happen very often.

    Anyway, well said Dakota. Take it from an older dude who now has the ability to look back; life is all about perspective and enjoying the moment. I would tell you to appreciate what you have been given, but you obviously already do.

  7. Kelly

    Damn, Dakota, incredible post. Great race, and, more importantly, such valuable perspective; wisdom well beyond your years. Keep up the awesome adventures and attitude — I'm sure you will.

  8. Dr. Thomas Redeker

    Hi guys,

    you all get my respect. I followed the race via internet via irunfar, first for this real time possibilities, thank you guys, for your attitude, your spirit, your running abilities, respekt too. I am an trial runner from germany, following you guys a lot. Guys like Dakota, Geoff Roes, Mike Wolfe, Kilian Jornet, motivate me in trial running. My sister in law is one of the best trial runner in germany, won the "hermannslauf". Look forward to follow you guys, thanks a lot.

    Tom

  9. Billy Simpson

    Dakota, what a great race but more important by far is what a great attitude and perspective. I am really happy that you got in Hardrock again because I know what those mountains mean to you. I am bringing my 15 year old son, Max, back to Silverton in 2012, you guys met last year, and I really hope he gets the opportunity to hang out and maybe go for a run with you before the race. You are a good role model and it would be a thrill for him. Peace….Billy

  10. James Brennan

    for a young guy with the world at his fingertips you have a great vantage point. usually it takes 3 failures, a few addictions, and financial ruin to have that type of outlook. I had a law professor in law school say to a bunch of unhappy students "you are not the end sum of your GPAs"…I liked that advice. Much more to you super-athletes than your times.

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