Dakota Jones’s San Juan Solstice 50 Mile Course-Record Report

[Editor’s Note: Dakota Jones won the San Juan Solstice 50 Mile last weekend in a course-record time of 7:35:03. The old, 2004 course record of 7:59 was held by Matt Carpenter.]

Since becoming a race director, I have become highly attuned to the fine details of race management. One of the principles by which I am trying to structure the Telluride Mountain Run is that of “ease-of-use,” or efficiency for the runners. In other words, I would much prefer to do a lot of work ahead of time so that the runners don’t have to do any work besides run. Because of that, and because I’m 22, I am now forming opinions about aspects of racing and races that, while actually ambiguous, I manage to convince myself are black and white. Take last weekend for example.

The San Juan Solstice 50 Mile is a race in Lake City, Colorado. Lake City is in the San Juan Mountains in the southwestern portion of the state, and sits at an elevation of more than 8,700 feet. Mountains rise in all directions, and to the west they even top 14,000 feet. Lots of trails and dirt roads crisscross the mountains, and the San Juan Solstice utilizes a series of these in its loop around the town. In so doing, the race makes three major climbs. The first one rises to more than 12,000 feet, while the second rises even higher, topping out at 13,300 feet on the Continental Divide. From there, the race remains on the divide for nearly nine miles, rolling along at high altitude before dropping back into the trees at about mile 36. From miles 40 to 43, the race climbs 2,000 feet more before dropping back into Lake City and the finish. As far as Colorado mountain runs go, this is about as good as it gets (unless you’re running the Telluride Mountain Run, of course).

When I ran the race three years ago, I was 19 and just learning how to run ultras. I still had the innocent, newbie psych that had me signing up and volunteering for every race and pacing duty I could find. These days, of course, I’m a jaded curmudgeon hardly willing to crew my friends–I spend much of my spare time lounging in my front yard in a stained tank top yelling at passing children–but back then I couldn’t get enough mountain running. That’s why I spent most of that May and early June in the La Sal Mountains above Moab, Utah training for the San Juan Solstice. At the time, it was my fourth 50-mile race, and I had earlier that year both won a 50-mile race and dropped out of another. Nevertheless, I went into San Juan hoping for a good result.

I was fortunate and had my best day of racing to that point. At the 40-mile aid station, I ran through without even stopping, only throwing my pack and grabbing a water bottle from my crew, and as I left, I looked at my watch. 6:40. I knew the course record was 7:59, and I also knew that in most circumstances I could run 10 miles in 1:20. But the San Juan Solstice is not normal circumstances, and I ended up finishing about 14 minutes shy of the record, in 8:13. Still, I was so close to the record that I wanted to return ever since.

Two years of running the Hardrock 100 prevented me from returning. But this year my plans are different, and I knew I’d be able to fit SJS back into my schedule. My training went well, the weather was good, acclimation seemed to work fine; all my preparations came together as well as I could have hoped. The only glitch was the fires. At the time of writing, the West Fork Complex Fire has bloomed to more than 70,000 acres and is 0% contained. That fire is an amalgamation of three separate fires in the Wolf Creek and south San Juan area that have combined to create one of the most powerful fires in recent history. And it’s just a few miles south of Lake City.

Apocalypse Southwest Colorado

Apocalypse Southwest Colorado. Photo: Dakota Jones

The night before the race, the road south to Creede and South Fork was closed, and everyone was expecting the town of South Fork to burn completely. In the evening, a tremendous, billowing cloud of smoke ballooned beyond the Continental Divide, looking like a volcanic eruption and reaching far into the stratosphere. Looking at such a powerful natural phenomenon, I worried about smoke on the course, and then wondered how we could even consider luxuries like a 50-mile race when entire counties were on fire just a few miles away. But the race was a go. And I couldn’t tear myself away.

Getting back to the point of the article, as a race director, I want to make everything as easy as possible for my runners. The two most crucial aspects of this are course marking and aid-station transitions. The San Juan Solstice course was marked extremely well. The aid stations, too, were well stocked and competently run. The one drawback of the race was this: each person had a bar code on their bib number, and at each aid station this bar code was supposed to be scanned. Unfortunately, the scanner/bar-code system was not very efficient, and usually required several seconds of patiently looking at the clouds while the frantic volunteer desperately tried to register one’s time. This wasn’t exactly conducive to a record-attempt mindset. And as I said before, no matter how ambiguous the situation may actually be, I lately find myself holding black and white opinions. This bar-code thing was one of those times.

What I’m trying to say is I may have run through several aid stations without giving them the time to scan my bar code. Oops.

I was in a bit of a hurry, okay? The day started out with a 4,500-foot climb with Jason Schlarb and Josh Arthur, us chatting a bit as we climbed into the sunrise. On the way down the other side, we stayed together without talking much, and came through the 15-mile aid all together. I was hoping that maybe the bar code could be scanned from a distance as I ran past, but I didn’t really stop to check. They didn’t sound very happy as I disappeared into the distance. Schlarb’s crew was still asleep, so Josh and I got ahead, but by the second climb, I managed to pull ahead. But Josh and Schlarb are powerful runners, and I was forever looking over my shoulder for their approach.

The race went well for me. My legs felt heavy at the beginning, but by the second climb, I found that they had the strength needed to run and hike at the pace I wanted. I found a threshold of effort that allowed me to push Matt Carpenter’s splits without disadvantaging myself for the late miles of the race. Everything just came together.

The 40-mile aid station is at the base of a big hill. Runners cruise down the hill, through the aid, across a road, and continue downhill on the other side. By this point I knew I was ahead of CR pace and feeling good. I wanted to continue moving. Like three years before, I came through the aid at 50 miles per hour, threw my vest pack, grabbed a water bottle, and continued down the hill. The aid was packed with people, and lots of people were screaming my name, including, perhaps, the race director… who may have wanted me to stop and officially check in.

Aaron Marks paced me for 11 minutes after that aid station. As we ran down a brief open stretch, I glanced back, “They sounded a little upset.” Aaron agreed, and I think he was afraid of being in dangerous company, because he soon bailed on pacing me and went back to the aid station to have a beer. I hiked hard up the final climb and then ran through the meadows and aspen groves that comprise the final 10 miles. By the time I dropped back into town, I had the record secured and was escorted through town by my mom and aunt, both cheering wildly.

After the finish, the race director walked over, a stern look on his face. We talked for a while, and he told me how displeased he was with my lack of respect for his processes. He said he was seriously considering disqualifying me, because I had blatantly ignored the stated rules. I had no adequate response for him besides “I’m sorry” and “You are right.” But he seemed to appreciate my honesty. In the end, he let me remain the winner, even though he probably should have disqualified me as a matter of principle. When we parted ways, we were friends again.

The takeaway? As much as I have been inspired by the European style of mountain racing, low-key Colorado races like San Juan Solstice have a special cachet that sets them apart. At a high-profile international event, I would surely have been disqualified. But in Lake City, respect matters more than rules, and that is based on a personal connection between runners and organizers. If we can incorporate that kind of value system into our race, then we’ll be far better off than if we could amass loads of prize money or sponsorships. Most people don’t know about the San Juan Solstice 50, but there’s a lot of good in this race that we could all learn from. Still, a little civil disobedience may be a good thing at times.

That said, if anybody so much as thinks about breaking the TMR rules, we’ll force you to wear compression socks and Hokas. The whole race.

There are 59 comments

  1. Charlie M.

    Civil disobedience would have been to break through a line of firefighters and to have run with a full bladder of gatorade to throw on the Nuclear Cloud. But you have to start somewhere, so not stopping to check in is a good beginning.

  2. JimM

    You truly are a freak of nature Dakota! Loved your speach at the breakfast and hope that the RD does away with those silly bar codes.

  3. Pete

    Anytime one breaks a record held by Matt Carpenter it is a very impressive run. Congrats. Seems like those barcodes were awful. Wonder how that worked in the middle of the field. Guessing TRAD won't be using them haha.

    1. Pete

      Agreed all though timing chips are fully automated. The ones norcal utlras use are great and seem to be water resistent as well. But bar codes and hand scanning seems like a huge problem.

  4. Rob Y

    Congratulations Dakota! Before you came along I think we all figured Matt Carpenter's LC50 record would stand forever. Wow!

    Regarding the barcode scanning approach. I think the idea is solid but the way the LC folks implemented it was not. I think a better approach would be to have the aid-stations to have a clipboard with the bib # and corresponding barcodes right in front of them. So when runners come in they scan the bar code on their clip board not on the bib. Bibs can get damaged, torn or lost and then what do they do? Another option I've seen is to give runners a ring of barcoded paper tabs and then as the runners pass through the aid station they drop a tab in a basket which the volunteer then scans. Another cool technology we used at the UltraBalaton in Hungary last summer uses a usb like device that you wear around your finger. When you entered an aid station there was this box that you pressed the usb thing into that recorded your passing through the aid station. I thought that was pretty cool but it did require you to stop.

  5. Mic

    Penalty 00:00:04 for each skipped AS

    Of take the average time for Bar-Code Swipe, hopefully it's not 00:00:30

    I've always want to run the SJS, nice report.

  6. Jeff Valliere

    Congrats on the CR Dakota! Maybe this will inspire Matt to race again…. ;)

    Scanning a bar code on your bib? This is a race, not a supermarket. I think chip timing is much more efficient, or perhaps just a good ole notepad/pen/synced watch, as I imagine runners are pretty spread out not long after the start. Whatever it takes to not delay a running running a race. Imagine doing that at Boston or New York? Hilarious.

  7. Wade

    if you're looking to take your civil disobedience up a notch, find an anti-Keystone XL pipeline protest near you, unless a drought, deluge or wildfire doesn't disrupt your life first!

  8. Lstomsl

    If they want to be so high tech they should focus on real time race progress available on the interwebs. It was frustrating knowing a dozen friends were racing 30 mikes away and not seeing any results for four days….

  9. BobGraham

    Great run at SJS50 Dakota. A great example of "It's better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission".

    Not sure about the whole bar code thing but have to say the RD and their team were one of the best I have ever seen at a race. They were really trying to think about every little detail.

  10. Chad

    In an age of so much Europhilia in Ultrarunning, its nice to hear Dakota give a nod to the "American style" of race. Ultrarunning doesn't have to be all white spandex and sponsors logos tattooed on foreheads to be relevant. Sure, I would like to see more money and media attention for the elites, but personally – I kinda like that I can win a 50 mile race and no once gives a crap except me and(maybe) my family. Congrats on the CR Dakota!

  11. Scott Sheppard

    Out of this world run by Dakota and I'm glad the race director didn't disqualify him. He made the right decision. Likewise, I'm sure they weren't using scanners when Matt set his record.

    I do find it interesting that people aren't hitting Dakota for knowingly breaking the roles though. He clearly benefited, time wise, by not stopping and waiting for the volunteers to scan your bar code (anyone who has stood in a store checkout line knows this can take a while). He knew he was breaking the rules from the get-go and was reminded by aid workers and the race director himself during the race that he was supposed to stop and get scanned. One could say that he cut corners.

    I seem to recall a bunch of people jumping all over Kilian breaking the rules and literally cutting corners at Speedgoat because he figured the same Euro Skyrunning norms (like cutting switch backs) would apply at a US Skyrunning event. People said that there is never any excuse for breaking rules, especially when doing so would result in a time advantage. Kilian was disqualified from the race but received Skyrunning points and it was him getting those points that really ticked people off.

    I wonder why people are treating Dakota's situation any different. Is it because he is from the US, that there is less hype around him, that the race has a lower profile, or what is it?

    1. djconnel

      On the matter of the course record he's competing against past and future years and I'm confident the bar-code-on-the-bib thing was a one-time failed experiment. So then the question is whether his advantage affected the result. If there was any question of this, even close, he should have been relegated. But since he won by such a huge margin, clearly that was not the case. Staying on course is a universally recognized principle in racing (in Killian's case it was a misunderstanding over what the "course" was). But this is more of a grey area. Sure, he violated the 2013 rules, but he ran 50 miles faster than anyone else, even considering the time taken to scan his code. To me whatever the RD decided should be respected.

  12. Clark

    Congrats on a great race Dakota, unfortunately I was unable to make it down from Denver in time for the finish, but was there for the awards (great speech), so I actually had no idea about the barcode follies until now. I'm glad you ran the race your way and equally as glad Jerry came to resolution with you afterwards, hopefully everyone learned a lesson or two from this. A race is a race and forcing a racer to stop and wait for subpar technology is just wrong, as every second counts to a racer. Indeed, Matt Carpenter himself speaks to this on the account of his 2004 record run, and there is no doubt in my mind he would congratulate you for your focus and style. Keep up the great running and hopefully the entire affair will effect positive changes in the future.

  13. Wade

    There was mention of civil disobedience, wild fires and the Apocalypse in this article. Once you mention the Apocalypse, I think it’s okay to get a bit off topic. I will admit that I am a connoisseur of all things apocalyptic and am wont to get a bit tangential from the mere mention of the Apocalypse. I apologize for distracting you from running. But many of us are probably going to be doing some running away from droughts, deluges and wildfires in the near future, so it’s not that off topic. It’s also in the interest of all trail runners that we reduce CO2 in the atmosphere to at least take some of the bite out of the climatic disruption already programmed into the environment from the .8 degree increase in global temps and preserve natural areas for future generations. Happy trails!

  14. Scott Sheppard

    I agree that the race director made the right decision. However, the logic people have been using (including when discussing the Kilian – Speedgoat issue) is that you can't break the rules. If you buy their logic then it is never OK to break the rules. They would ask: Can mid packers break the rules and not be disqualified just because they weren't in contention for the win? Can runners just disregard the rules and ignore direct instruction from RDs? Can we pick and choose which rules we obey? Is it OK to cheat if you have a large lead? Or do we apply different standards to different runners because we like some more than others or because of were they are from?

    It seems that Kilian was being held to a much higher standard than what Dakota is being held to. I'm wondering why and pointing out what appears to be some hypocrisy in they way Kilian was treated and the way Dakota is being treated.

    1. Bryon Powell

      Scott, the issue may be that you're pointing into a room and saying "hypocrisy" without knowing whether or not those who made the statements with regard to Kilian have even read this report. There is no hypocrisy if Abby, Ben, and Cathy called for strict interpretation of the rules with regard to Kilian and Speedgoat while Xavier, Yaakob, and Zach discuss Dakota's article with no calls for strict enforcement of the rules.

      While the above is true, I think the switchback cutting thing probably irritated a small number of people enough to comment for two reasons. (1) In the US, where there's a trail it is highly frowned upon to cut switchbacks under any circumstance, regardless of the rules or existence of a race. It's a strong, ingrained ethic that would greatly both those who maintain trails or steadfastly adhere to such ethics. (2) There have been a few well-known incidents in the past where Europeans have raced in America, cut switchbacks while racing, and been the subject of difficult decisions. A few folks may have been informed of these issues and been all the more annoyed and, therefore, vocal that it happened again.

      As a moderator, just trying to offer you some reasons for the discrepancy. They don't necessarily reflect my own views.

      1. Scott Sheppard

        I'm sorry about the hypocrisy comment. You are absolutely right on that (of course if there are those who rode the rule breaking high horse in regard to Kilian but now give Dakota a pass then the comment may still stand).

        Still, I think my other and more central points are still worthy of discussion and debate. Much of the discussion around Kilian centered on the nature of rules and rule breaking and its implications.

  15. Clark

    With all due respect to Scott's question above, I see little correlation between 'knowingly' cutting a course and technology failure. I have run a race or two in the past where the timing chip failed, resulting in race directors scrambling to re-create my place and time. Technology should help not hinder, if my legs and lungs are working so too should the technology. Period

    1. Scott Sheppard

      I don't recall there being anything said about tech failure. Dakota admitted he knowingly ignored the rule to get his bar code scanned (bar codes are an awful idea in an ultra BTW – but some would say the rules are the rules, if you don't like them, run another race).

      Kilian broke the rules when he cut the switch backs. No question there. Whether he did it knowingly is still a matter of debate.

      However, I just pointing out that we seem to want to give Dakota a pass on breaking the rules but many were quick to attempt to grab the moral high ground and condemn Kilian.

      Again I agree that the bar codes were a stupid idea but are we free to only obey the race rules we like?

  16. Tim B

    First, a great run for a great guy. It's amazing when and if any MC record goes down.

    I do think the bar code issue is unfortunate and more complex than some may think. I disagree with the idea that if you don't like a rule, you can violate that rule w/o repurcussions. That is a dangerous precedent. It sets up situations where there may be ambiguity as to what rule is OK to break and what rule is not OK to break.

    Dakota is definitely getting the benefit of the doubt because he is a decent person and because this race is low-key, so nobody (including me) really cares. Still, you can see how this could be an issue if in WS 100, UTMB, etc.

  17. Mike

    There are only 2 people who can DQ a racer: The race director or the runner him/herself. Neither one did this, so the race is over. Dakota wins and has CR. I don't know how Carpenter will feel about it, but my guess would be he set a mark, Dakota beat it, the RD certified it, and that's the end of it. Next time I see him, I'll ask. Matt's got a hell of a lot of CRs, and some may never be beaten, but he knows that someone, on any given race, could beat any one of those records. Congrats to you Dakota!

  18. Clark

    I re-read Dakota's description above. On my first read I interpreted him to mean the barcodes did not consistently scan on the first attempt , which is why I was equating this to technology failure. But in re-reading it I see I may have misinterpreted, which now helps me understand the debate better. On one hand it is certainly understandable that an ordinary (non elite or however you wish to call it) runner might question the ethics, on the other hand, anyone who has ever set or chased a course record (not me) understands how every second counts. I fully understand the intense mindset required to do such a thing, and for this reason, I give Dakota a pass. It took great courage for him to chase such a lofty record, and also to make the decisions he did and risk DQ. The overriding factor to me is that he did run the exact same entire course Matt did, and the rest is technicality. If you read Matt's website and/or articles about him, you quickly learn he has consistently challenged questionable rules, regulations, race committees, and even the USATF throughout his career, boycotting races and organizations along the way in an effort to improve the sport. While I can't speak for Matt, I'm guessing he would/will completely respect Dakota's run.

    1. Scott Sheppard

      Totally agreed on each point. Dakota beat Matt's record and no doubt Matt would respect that. Likewise I respect that.

      However, neither of those address my point about rule breaking and whether we are relativists about rule breaking.

  19. d'Jo D'lig

    It's not a very fair competition between those that stopped to get the code scanned as the rules said, and those that ran through without caring. Or did Dakota just run it on his own to break the record ? If the system would have been failing in general since the first aid station, the race director could have told further aid stations not to continue scanning, but that's not a runners decision… I believe… Still, congratulations for breaking the record. That stands. First place maybe not.

  20. Clark

    Scott – it is certainly a good point for debate, and one in which everyone who wishes to comment should do so. From my perspective, had I been in the race (hoping to do next year) and experienced the same frustration with the scanning process, I cannot say for sure what I would have done, but most likely would have accepted it then given then provided strong feedback at the finish. At that point had I learned of Dakota's actions, I believe I would have totally respected him for it, for going out on the limb not only for himself but for improving the process for everyone going forward. In all aspects of life there is the letter of the law (or rules), and there is the spirit of the law (rules). They can and will be debated until the end of time. Dakota did not break the spirit of this race in my mind, he ran the entire race course, so I'm good with it.

    To the bigger picture of rule breaking in general, it is too big for me to take on, so I'm going for a run.

  21. Jenn

    What an awesome run! I do think the "respect trumps rules" is an interesting way to sum up the experience though, since choosing the completely ignore the check-in process shows a pretty profound *lack* of respect for the RD and volunteers. I do understand the rational, and since in this case the person choosing to do so was well known, in the lead, and easily recognizable, there were no repercussions…but what if you have someone more anonymous getting frustrated with the flawed system and deciding "to hell with it?" On paper, now you suddenly have a "missing" person out on the trails that someone has to go find. Not cool.

    I think the RD showed a lot of class by choosing to honor and let stand an exceptional run despite the disregard for the processes, but I do hope he got one heck of an apology. I'd think the time to express concern over the impact of scanning these codes on a record attempt would have been in the months/weeks prior to the race. If they were a day of race surprise well…it does become that much easier to understand the decision to skip them.

  22. Steven

    Perhaps reading the rules page on the race site would help:
    http://grandmaster.colorado.edu/~stevem/sjs50/pub
    Unless the RD spoke directly to the effect "You MUST stop and have your barcode scanned at every station…" then DJ gets a pass on a technicality. It's worrisome enough to wait for supplies from crew or aid while folks are chasing you. Can't imagine waiting for a scanner. I want to be far away from supermarket lines when I'm racing.

    1. Scott Sheppard

      That's the same argument some of Kilian's supporters made since the "do not cut swithbacks" rule was not in the race manual, on the website, or announced before hand.

      However, Dakota does admit to knowing about the check-in rule.

      In both Kilian's and Dakota's cases they were told about the rule mid race too.

      I wouldn't want to wait in check-in lines either.

      1. Jake

        I remember the outrage that Kilian didn't get punished enough after getting punished. Full credit to both awesome runners I never for once thought either performance has any kind of stain to it they were the best and they showed it.

  23. Alejandrina

    Great article, I had a GOOD CHUCKLE reading this article and the best part is all the comments made, Great discussions, opinions, excellent points made.

    Now My 2 cents: Records are made to be broken and I agree with the issue of bar codes, what are we, live stock?; remove the bar codes. If I was the RD, the runner would be given the option to lose time for breaking the rules, or Public lashing and retain the time and title, Yikes!!!!LOL!!! (—Lets all have a good laugh, now—)

    Also, to Dakota: As you gain years in wisdom, one day you will look back at this and chuckle and then if someone else brakes the rules a bit at your race, Be Kind to them as the RD was kind to you. Enjoy life and also be ready to face the consequences of your choices.

    Additionally, since I live in San Antonio,TX and its flatter then Flat, I may consider to come and run your race TMR and ENJOY MYSELF, as you have so stated in your rules:

    "Enjoy yourself"—–I PLAN TO, I MAY STOP AT THE LOCAL BREW PLACE AND HAVE A COUPLE OF BREWS SO THAT I CAN NUMB MYSELF BEFORE I BEGIN THE MOUNTAINOUS RUN AS I HAVE ZERO TRAINING ON MOUNTAINS.

    "TMR directors have final authority on any question that may arise" DOES THAT MEAN I NEED YOUR PERMISSION TO DRINK SOME BREW BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER THE RACE??

    "No littering! If you see trash, please pick it up." SINCE I WILL BE HURTING FROM THE MOUNTAINOUS RUN AND ALSO SOMEWHAT GIDDY FROM THE BREW, I MAY DROP MY LITTER, KNOWING THAT VOLUNTEERS NEED SOMETHING TO DO AFTER THE RACE WHEN THEY GO THRU THE TRAIL FOR FINAL CLEAN UP

    "You must leave each aid station by the posted cut-off time (Posted Soon)" SINCE I MAY BE A BIT SLOWER AND GIDDY THEN EVERYONE ELSE, I MAY MISS THE CUT OFF TIME AND CROSS IT WHEN THE AID STATION IS GONE.OHH WELL!!! KEEP GOING TILL I MAKE THE FINISH LINE IF THERE EVEN IS ONE BY THE TIME I GET DONE,LOL

    "No aid outside of aid stations, no stashing aid" WHAT??? I'M PLANNING ON HAVING SOME FRIENDS COME ALONG & THEY ARE TO STASH SOME BREW TO KEEP ME GIDDY, SO I CAN DO THIS MOUNTAINOUS RACE AS I COME FROM A FLAT LAND IN TEXAS.DANG!!!

    "Do not cut the course. Please stay on designated trails!" I MAY HAVE TO CUT SOME TRAILS SO I MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE ON TIME SINCE I HAVE ZERO EXPERIENCE IN MOUNTAIN TRAIL RUNS :/

    "No pacers. It's only 38 miles." WHAT?? I AM REALLY GOING TO NEED THE HELP AS THE MORE I GO THE MORE BREW I WOULD DRINK.

    "If you drop out, return to or stop at an aid station. Tell someone!" PLEASE SEND ME YOUR CONTACT INFO, AS I WILL PROBABLY NEED IT SINCE I'LL BE WAY OFF COURSE AND PRETTY GIDDY AND ENJOYING MYSELF ON THE TRAIL

    "No dogs allowed." EXCELLENT CALL HERE, I DISLIKE TRAILS WERE THERE IS DOGGIE POOP.

    Dakota and all, Keep running, being passionate in this unique ultra-running sport and always voice your opinion as what a great freedom we have to be able to express it. As runners we enjoy the Freedom that this wonderful sport provides in all parts of this wonderful nation, world. Good luck to all.

  24. Aaron K.

    I love that this well-written race report has people ruminating on the nature of rules and fairness. Many of the comments recall Dakota's opening paragraph mention of the irresistible tendency to impose a "black and white" dichotomy onto an otherwise ambiguous world. Strict rules appeal to our need for the black and white, for order and unwavering fairness. But the implementation of those rules often plunges us back into the chaos of ambiguity when mitigating circumstances lead to differential application of the same rule. (Ex: if Dakota had won by a only couple of minutes and the runner-up had followed the bar code rule, perhaps a DQ would have been the reasonable decision). This sort of ambiguity can make some people very uncomfortable. Personally, I am glad that the RD used discretion in the enforcement of his rules. Loose enforcement made good sense in this situation. . .in other situations (like if you liter the T-Rad course!) perhaps it won't.

  25. KJA

    I find it kind of strange that sometimes in races they require you to stop…for any reason. The point is to go fast over a set course, stopping is not very helpful. Dakota is clearly racing, stopping shouldn't be required.

    WS is an example of this, obviously they have their reasons to stop people at aid stations, the race people are very competent, and I am not the one to say they shouldn't stop people, but it still just feels strange for a race to say you have to wait.

    I guess at some point some races decided the point was to go fast and be safe, rather than just go fast. Why, I'm not exactly sure. Liability?

      1. Pete

        good reason not god haha. I guess it is more to ensure no one is running them selves to death. A lot of weight loss or weight gain can indicate a problem. For that matter many 100's do this.

        1. Bryon Powell

          It'll be interesting to see how long this rule lasts… seems like a holdover from its endurance horse ride past, an event in which it makes sense to check the animal doing the work. Seems like mandatory med checks are a bit much in a race like Western States in which aid station personal can more easily assess the athlete with a quick look and engage verbally as warranted by the verbal check… and conduct a more thorough med check if the visual and conversational assessment warrant.

          1. Luke Garten

            I agree that the weight checking at Western States is not necessary. I am guessing the scanning thing at this 50 miler is for a safety check to see if a runner ever makes it to the next aid station so they know where to look for the lost runner. Not a terrible thing to have to do to just waste seconds. If a runner skips the weight check at Western STates they are DQ'd right?

            1. Luke Garten

              I am not saying that Dakoda should be DQ'd. If I was a race director I would also would have let it go.

              Great race and great effort. It is always good to hear about records being broken. This one will be broken again someday as will the Pikes Peak marathon, as will the World record marathon time.

              There will allways be someone faster.

  26. Astroyam

    On the topic of CRs, I am positive that ALL current CRs in trail and ultra running will be broken. Even MC on PP ascent and marathon. Think about it: the 100 m dash is way more mature as a sport with a much bigger genetic pool, many more people training and racing, tons of financial incentive, and yet Usain Bolt managed to annihilate the record recently.

    Dakota's run was amazing. And yet, this record will also be broken in time. It's an exciting time for trail running, and the likes of Dakota and others are just scratching the surface. Jus sayin'!

    1. Alejandrina

      I second that, if coming to your race, and for breaking the rules, the punishment is

      Wearing calf sleeves & Hokas, then I am in, as hokas and calf sleeves is something I actually enjoy wearing. The speed goat wears Hokas, you might try them & maybe, just maybe you'll be breaking lots more records.

  27. art

    in my mind the use of any tracking device or system serves only two possible purposes.

    1. to keep track of split times, which are irrelevant to the final outcome and valuable only for study purposes.

    2. to serve as verification that a runner actually was at a certain point.

    I'm sure there was all sorts of verification Dakota was at the aid stations …

    Bar code scanning in a race is an absolutely out dated and inefficient method that hopefully no other RD will ever use. and lets not forget that rules are really just suggestions for better living.

  28. Z

    Cheers to you Dakota, I would have done the same thing! I mean what if there was a scanner problem or if it didn't recognize you, they would have had to call for an attendant to make sure it was you, that attendant might have been busy scanning some organic apples or something. Then once they got to you, manually punched in your number. It's an ultra, not city market!

  29. Joe Gerard

    WTF Dakota? You broke the rules that you clearly understood and expect forgiveness because the race director "respects" you? How about you respecting HIM and HIS race? So you think its ok to break the rules if you are shooting for a course record? So, if you have someone break the rules at your race, you will base your decisions on how much respect you have for the person? I think you should DQ yourself, since the race director didn't. You can run that course any other day of the year by your own rules.

    Everyone is always praising you for being so "down to earth." Well, I think this proves that you are far from it.

  30. Morgan Williams

    Bryon

    Good point. I've raced all over the UK and in various parts of Europe and never had any kind of weight check, before, during or after an ultra.

    I have to say that one of the moments during UTMB 2012 that I have most reflected on was my arrival at the Bellevue aid station at about 70 kms around 7.00 am. It had been a foul night, rain, hail, snow as you recall. I was still in shorts, but with my Patagonia Super Cell shell on. As I was checked in, a lady volunteer took me gently by both shoulders, fixed me clearly in the eye and asked me a series of questions about how I was. I was anxious to get going because the next section was downhill to Les Houches (oh the mud!) Only later did I reflect that I was being pretty thoroughly checked over because of my appearance in shorts after a filthy night, and that the volunteer was responding to very carefully delivered and understood directions from the RD.

    I have taken much comfort from the incident.

    Morgan

  31. Mark Schwietz

    Dakota – Thank you for your thought provoking article. Good "heads up" owning your shadow of entitlement – aka The Rules Don't Apply to Me. I know I have my fair share of that one. Living and learning is what life is all about.

    While I believe Joe's comments are on the harsh side, I might ask you to consider doing something to push back against this shadow. One thing that comes to mind as I re-read your article is that in days gone by, you used to volunteer your time at races, etc. Consider finding a way you can give back to this sport you love so much AND also push back against this part of yourself that is "above the rules."

    Thanks for the insight. I have enjoyed tracking your career and listening to your uncle Todd who lives in the Phoenix area go on and on and on about his nephew Dakota Jones! He is one proud hombre – as he should me. You are a quality human being.

    Blessings on your journey

    Mark

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