Dakota Jones has finished the Hardrock 100 twice, finishing second in 2011 (post-race interview) and third in 2012 (post-race interview with Joe Grant). Despite this, Dakota doesn’t think he’s run his best race here yet. In the following interview, Dakota talks about why he stepped away from the race, why he’s back, what he’ll be aiming to do this year, and why it’ll be different to run it without his father around.
For more on the race and links to other resources, check out our Hardrock preview.
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Dakota Jones Pre-2014 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dakota Jones before the 2014 Hardrock 100. How are you, Dakota?
Dakota Jones: I’m doing great, Bryon. How are you doing?
iRunFar: I’m doing alright. We’re in Silverton, man. It’s awesome.
Jones: It’s always a good day in Silverton.
iRunFar: Until about 2 p.m.
Jones: Yeah, and then it starts nuking, but then it comes back in the evening.
Jones: It’s been pretty gnarly weather lately. We’ve had a little bit more moisture than normal. It could happen tomorrow and they say there’s a flash-flood warning, but…
iRunFar: Continuously it’s been, yeah.
Jones: Yeah, they said it’s decreasing. I think we’re going to be just fine. I’m looking forward to it.
iRunFar: Yeah, we all get wet, right?
iRunFar: Haven’t melted yet. So, you did this race for two years and took last year off.
Jones: Yeah, so this will be my third running and hopefully my third finish.
iRunFar: What brought you back this year?
Jones: I always intended to come back for sure. I just did it the first two years, and after 2012—I didn’t have a bad race, I just didn’t… I remembered the last 20 miles I was going through, Geez, I need a break from this. You know, if you do the same race year after year, it’s cool because you come back to the same race. But at the same time, I was like, I want to do something different and kind of mix up my schedule a little. So I did that and did a bunch of different stuff last year and a little less racing. But I paced here—I paced second place Troy Howard to his super-fast 25-hour-something time which was really fun. When I was running with him, I was like, Man, I really have to come back here next year. So I put in and got lucky again and got in. So I’m just trying to do it right. It’s my third time. I moved up here at the end of May, May 19 or 20 or something like that, right after I got back from Transvulcania. I basically have been here since then.
iRunFar: When did the mountains start to clear up enough to get high?
Jones: Yeah, I was running on roads a lot. We had a lot of snow this year. I guess we had an average snow this year which is different than the last few years which have been crazy dry. Yeah, I mean, I ran on some dirt roads which you can get up high on because they plow them. So you have these side cuts of snow that are 15 feet high. It’s really cool. If you go early enough, you can get on top. Actually, it’s funny because if you’re here in May, you couldn’t go run on the snow because it wasn’t forming crust really. It was still cold enough at night that it was still freezing all the way through and there was still powder. The snow sets up a lot better in June when there’s been enough melt-freeze cycles that it solidifies the snowpack. I guess I’ve been running off trail in the backcountry for at least a month or more.
iRunFar: You’ve finished third and second here. Good finishes. I don’t think that’s up to your potential, do you?
Jones: That’s why I’m coming back, right? Who knows how I can do? Maybe tomorrow I’ll come in and take 10th, but if I run the time or the race that I’m capable of, I’ll be cool with that. I’ll be happy with that. Really, it’s not about place so much. Obviously, I’d like to do well. I’m not going to deny that, but for the last two races I feel like I’ve made some mistakes and just kind of been inexperienced. This is a big race and a post-graduate run for a reason.
iRunFar: You’re only 23 right now, right?
Jones: Yeah, exactly. So I feel like I’m coming into this with a little more experience and just having more strength. I have two more years of hard training under my belt than I did two years ago. I haven’t done a 100 since the last Hardrock, but I think I know the course really well. I’m feeling really good. I’m really looking forward to it. I’m in a good spot. I’m just going to go out and run a long ways. It’s cool because it’s not so competitive. I mean, it is obviously really competitive this year, but it’s not like when you start a 50-mile race you have to go hard right off the bat or even a 100k. A lot of these hard races you have to go hard right away. Hardrock, the guy who wins is the guy who can go hard at the end which doesn’t necessarily correlate to going hard at the beginning. Sometimes it does—whatever your racing style is.
iRunFar: It’s going to be interesting because there’s sort of a set group of people who have a decent shot of winning.
Jones: Yes, there are previous winners.
iRunFar: How do you not go running with them because they’re your friends, too? If somebody is running faster early, how do you settle into your race?
Jones: I feel like my strength—the times that I’ve done best are the times I’ve run my own race. If there is any course I can run my own race on, it’s here. I know this course. I’ve done it. I know the mountains. I’ve been here long enough this year to get it. That will be my strategy.
iRunFar: Have you prepared yourself any differently this year than the previous two years?
Jones: Yeah, I did a lot more quality workouts. I wasn’t just going for volume. I wasn’t just doing 180-mile weeks just to get in long runs. I was doing big weeks, but a lot of the effort was coming in doing interval workouts. I was doing longer, not so much lactate threshold, but I did these things called steady-state runs which are similar to tempo runs. I’d be going up 3 x 30 minutes up a hill or maybe 1 x 45 minutes or 1 x 60 minutes and then I’d tack on another hour or two after that. You do that three times per week plus long runs on the weekend. It’s pretty far.
iRunFar: Do you feel stronger coming into Hardrock than you have before?
Jones: Yeah, I feel like I’ve gotten a lot stronger because I was able to do these workouts harder because I’ve had more training over the last two years. So I’m coming in with my baseline fitness higher, and then… I don’t know, I just ran a lot and I’ve eaten well. I haven’t really done much. My life hasn’t been that interesting. I get up and I run and that’s kind of the only thing that is of note.
iRunFar: And write about salads.
Jones: And write about salads, yeah. I eat a lot of salads, too, a lot of good salads and crap. Yeah, it’s been great. I think that’s what has actually made me feel so good. I just run and that’s what I’m doing right now.
iRunFar: You love that.
iRunFar: You’re part of the Hardrock family and your family also lives around here, your mom does. So who’s crewing you and who’s helping you out this weekend?
Jones: I’ve got my mom to crew me as usual. She’s the loudest person on the crew.
iRunFar: In Colorado?
Jones: And I have my cat. He’s my little guy, Ralphie. Actually, my mom is going to have some competition with Joe [Grant]’s mom tomorrow who is crewing him. They’re very loud together. That will be fun to see. My pacer, I’m going to have Erik Skaggs to pace me from Grouse Gulch to the finish, that’s 40 or 42 miles.
iRunFar: That’s some experience.
Jones: Yeah, Erik’s never done a 100, but he’s super strong if you know anything about Erik. He’s amazing.
iRunFar: One big part of the San Juans and this race, at least from me knowing you, is your dad. Your dad brought you up here and sort of was a thing. He passed away since your last Hardrock. What’s it going to be like?
Jones: It’s kind of like full circle I think. I came up here with my dad. He kind of introduced me to the mountains and particularly the San Juans. Yeah, it was cool. He got to see my first Hardrock. That was really nice. Obviously it would be cooler if he was here, too, but he’s not, but I think he’ll be out there with me.
iRunFar: You’ll take him and think about him on the way.
iRunFar: Well, enjoy your Hardrock and run well.
Jones: Thanks a lot, Bryon. I’ll see you guys out there.
iRunFar: For sure.
iRunFar: Bonus question—you just sent your mom out to buy peppermint patties.
Jones: Well, Clif Bar is working on a peppermint-patty recipe, but it hasn’t been perfected yet. So, I need to supplement a peppermint patty for every aid station. I eat mostly Clif Bar stuff, but it’s kind of nice and you’ve got to have different flavors sometimes.
iRunFar: You’ve got to mix it up.
Jones: Yeah, the cool thing about Clif is that they have so many different varieties, but peppermint patties are pretty special. Mainly it comes because I did a long run, a 12-hour run, a few weeks ago, and I went through Ouray and I was feeling pretty bad and I bought a peppermint patty and it got me all the way up the next pass. It was awesome.
iRunFar: So this is the magic bullet this year?
Jones: Yeah, well, last time I thought the donuts from the bakery in Telluride were the magic bullet and I didn’t even want it when I came through Telluride. I didn’t even take it.
iRunFar: Which is generally the case with those kind of things.
Jones: I know. You’re just like, That’s going to be amazing, and then it’s absolutely terrible.
iRunFar: So when I see your mom in Ouray, I’ll be like, “Since Dakota hasn’t eaten any of his peppermint patties, can I have one?”
Jones: Yeah, if I haven’t eaten one, she’ll have a stock. Don’t worry.
iRunFar: Nice. Whoa!
Jones: Bye Ralphie.
iRunFar: Bye Ralphie. Bye guys.