A life with Dakota Jones is a life with much humor and lightheartedness, and this post-Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k interview is no different. In this interview, Dakota gives us the play-by-play of what went down in his on-course duel with Rob Krar, how he’s learned over the years to push it in ultras from start to finish, and what’s next on his racing calendar.
[Editor’s Note: We also interviewed Dakota Jones before the race.]
Dakota Jones Post-2013 UROC 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar with Dakota Jones after his second-place finish at the Ultra Race of Champions. Good job, Dakota.
Dakota Jones: Thanks, Bryon.
iRF: You were battling most of the day it looked like.
Jones: Yeah, we were going for it. That was a crazy race.
iRF: Have you ever had to race… I guess you have at Transvulcania?
Jones: Yeah, I’ve raced hard before, but this was fully at my limit all day long. It was cool. It was the kind of running where you’re not sure if you can maintain it. The whole day I’m kind of operating at full capacity. There’s always a part of me that’s questioning myself, but you just keep going for it. I think by this point I’ve learned how to do it so I can run hard all day.
iRF: How do you build that confidence? I know a lot of ultrarunners, and myself even, just sort of stay in a comfort zone the whole time or try to.
Jones: Yeah, just from going out. It’s taken a long time to get to a point where I can run 50 miles or 100k hard the whole way. It’s been a lot about just experience. There were so many races earlier in my career… I was talking to Geoff Roes yesterday… I remember in 2010 at TNF 50 I ran as hard as I could with him all day, and I was in front but neck-and-neck for 35 miles. There was this one climb and he just smoked me and I totally fell apart and blew up. Since then I’ve continued to do that. The next race I blew up at 40 miles and then 45 miles, and now I can really nail it at 50 miles. So 100k isn’t so much different, time-wise. I don’t know. It was cool to see it all come together yesterday. A lot of the training and experience really come together.
iRF: In terms of experience, there was a lot of movement in front of the pack. There were times where Jason Wolfe was ahead and you were sitting with Kilian [Jornet] and Sage [Canaday] went off the front and then [Rob] Krar.
Jones: Yeah, it was mainly Sage and Rob and Kilian and myself running together most of the day. Jason Wolfe was with us for awhile there, but after Frisco, I don’t know what happened to him. He kind of fell off the back. It was mostly the four of us running together all day. It was really exciting—really strong competition.
iRF: I’m sure you had some sense of people’s relative strengths.
Jones: Oh yeah, totally, and it was very clear. We were coming over the Ten Mile Range, the first really big climb, and it had a ton of snow on it, and it was really uneven footing and really unconsolidated snow and loose and hard to get traction and Kilian was jogging and all the rest of us… I was better than Sage who says he hates snow. We were going up and it was really slow. Kilian and I were ahead in that section and then we get on the pavement and Rob and Sage just took off. Especially after the top of Vail Pass which was the middle of the paved section, Rob put two minutes on me from the top of the pass down to when we left the road.
iRF: That’s just a couple miles.
Jones: Just out of sight, yeah. It was impressive.
iRF: Time to do a little more speedwork or do you think that’s just…?
Jones: I don’t know, man. I need to do something. That guy was amazing.
iRF: This probably won’t be the last time you see him.
Jones: I hope not. I’ve got to kick his a** because he did me this time. No, it was a great race with Rob yesterday. It was with Sage and Kilian and Rob the first part of the day. Then after the pavement section it was Rob and I. Man, we were neck-and-neck for a long time. We really gave it everything we had. He was just so much stronger at the end there. I’m still blown away by what he did.
iRF: Didn’t you guys switch position even in Minturn, just 10 miles from the finish?
Jones: Yeah, I mean, it was crazy. He’s such an impressive runner. We were at the top of the second to the last climb… So after the pavement section you go up to the top of Vail Mountain. It’s this long ridge and you go across the whole top of it which is high elevation and is kind of rolling and then you do this huge descent into Minturn which is at 52 miles. Right at the top of that descent, right before we dropped into Minturn, I caught Rob and he’s stopping and walking sections and doing this thing and kind of stretching out. I was like, “You okay?” He was something like, “I’m a hurt piece.” I was like, “Ohh.” but in my head I was like, “YES!” Then I just kept running. I ran strong, but he kept up with me almost the whole way down. Then it got real steep and technical. I wasn’t getting out of control, but I was going hard into Minturn. I got a little bit ahead of him into Minturn. Then coming back out I was like, He doesn’t have any climbing legs; I can do this. I was pushing so hard. I was thinking, He doesn’t have any climbing legs, but I have to imagine that he does so I don’t get complacent. I have to keep pushing. I was running as much as I could and hiking when I had to and just going hard. I wasn’t going slow. I had very little gas left in the tank. I was totally at my limit, like epic-ing. I can do this! I have it! I was working so hard. Then I turned around and he was there. Then he caught me. Then he was catching me. There were people at the top of this last climb. My coach was there—I don’t want to let you down. At the top of the last climb he just… I mean… when I think about it, I wasn’t moving poorly. I was pretty much out of gas, but I was still moving pretty strong. He caught me at the top and I don’t know where he got it, but it looked like he was running a half marathon. I’m not kidding. He probably did 6:00 min/miles from the top just across this flat section and down. He was out of sight. At one point after the last aid station he went off course for a little bit, he took a long, wrong turn off a funny loop. Then all the sudden we were together again, and I was like, OH! WHOA! He’s like, “Where’s the markers?” I was like, “Up there, I think.” He just took off. I tried. I honestly did. I ran hard, but I was no match for him.
iRF: What’s up next for you?
Jones: I’m going to Japan—the Hasetsune Cup. It’s this 45 mile race outside of Tokyo. I did it last year. It’s a really neat race. Montrail sponsors it. They have 2,000 runners. There’s one aid station, but there’s no food and you only get 1.5 liters of water. It starts at 1 p.m., so you have to have a headlamp. It’s a crazy race.
iRF: You won that last year.
Jones: Yeah, I went out there last year and won.
iRF: I believe Cam Clayton’s going over there and he was just behind you here in third place.
Jones: Yeah, he was stronger than I kind of thought. I didn’t think he was going to be… I thought he’d have trouble with the longer distance, but he was consistent all day long. He ran a really smart race. It was cool to see. He’s really come… just like a year ago was his first ultra. Now he’s like… he’s doing really well. It’s super impressive.
iRF: Is TNF 50 on your calendar for later?
Jones: Yeah, I hope so. There’s a Skyrunning race in South Africa—the Lesotho Ultra Trail that I really would like to do. I told them I would like to come out, but I just don’t think I’m going to make it this year unfortunately.
iRF: Congratulations on a great run yesterday and some more good races this season.
Jones: Alright, thanks. Thanks.
iRF: Bonus question: What was with the sunglasses yesterday?
Jones: I left my sunglasses on an airplane and my girlfriend wears rhinestone glasses, so she lent me a pair. So that’s where they came from.
iRF: Is that a step up or a step down from the gold aviators from Transvulcania?
Jones: I figured it was similar. It’s different, but it’s in the same vein there. It didn’t have the same effect. When I wore the crazy glasses last time, I won.
iRF: Perhaps crazy glasses are the key to beating Kilian in an ultra.
Jones: Both times I’ve done that I’ve beaten Kilian. All it takes to beat Kilian, by the way, is either it’s so hot that he gets heat stroke and passes out, or there’s so much pavement that he gets so pissed that he just stops trying. That’s all it takes.
iRF: You heard it from Dakota.