Dakota Jones took second in the 2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile, his second podium finish at this event. In this interview, Dakota describes the feel and mood of running with a tight pack of five men for the race’s first 18-ish miles, how the mid-race fire roads and longer hills broke up the lead pack, how his late-race duel with champion Sage Canaday went down, and how he feels about this performance going into his summer of racing.
For more post-race interviews and details on how the whole race went down, check out our Lake Sonoma results article.
Dakota Jones Post-2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Do you want to introduce yourself?
Dakota Jones: Hi, I’m Dakota Jones with Meghan Hicks who is with iRunFar, and she’s going to interview me now.
iRunFar: Dakota Jones, you finished second at the 2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. Does 50 miles feel like a really long way right now?
Jones: Yeah, it does. I haven’t run 50 miles in a long time, and this one is particularly fast, so I’m really feeling it.
iRunFar: Yeah, you needed to lean pretty heavily on the car there a minute ago. I just want you to hold steady for the next couple minutes.
Jones: I’ll try. I’ve been doing ab workouts for stability.
iRunFar: 2016 was a bit of an up-and-down year with you working your way through recovery from injury. But now you’re back? You’re in form? How do you feel?
Jones: I think I’m pretty in form. Last year, I got uninjured in about May and came in pretty conservatively and didn’t race a ton. I feel like I still had a pretty good year. I took a lot of time, was pretty mellow in the winter. And around the end of January, I started training pretty hard. This is my first real race of the season. It went pretty well. Second place here is awesome. I’m super happy with it.
iRunFar: You guys took it out pretty hot in the men’s race. You were running under six-minute pace on the road? Something like that?
Jones: Probably. I didn’t have a watch, but those guys went really fast on the road. It’s two-and-a-half miles…
iRunFar: Yeah, but you were only three seconds behind.
Jones: It was a good gap. Sage [Canaday] and Jared Hazen and the other guys were at least 100 meters ahead when we got off the road, enough so that I had to think about it, Darn, now I’ve got to try and catch up. Within a mile or two, the trail helped me out, and I was able to catch up. From then we settled into this really tight pack. It was really cool. I don’t know exactly who it was. I think it was Patrick Smyth and Ryan Bak and Sage and Jared Hazen and myself. Chris Mocko was a little bit off the back, but he obviously came back and crushed. That was cool. Yeah, the five of us were for at least 12 to 15 miles, we ran together for a long time stride for stride in a line right next to each other going hard. Jared was in front for the most of it. It was super cool. It’s early. Everybody feels pretty good. The trails are smooth and rolling, and we’re just moving fast. It was really fun trying to race. I haven’t raced in a long time. It was really exciting. What was really kind of fun was there was the Madrone Aid Station, which is maybe 20 miles?
iRunFar: Mile 20 and then mile 30 again.
Jones: Yeah, so at about 20 miles, we come around off the singletrack onto this two-track or this kind of jeep-road-style road. All of a sudden I’m level with Jared and Sage and Patrick and Ryan just dropped me and Jared. I think Jared actually dropped out. I think he was hurt or something. Yeah, all of a sudden, it completely changed the dynamic. Sage and Patrick Smyth was up ahead and Ryan was behind them. I was just trying to hang on. I didn’t feel super strong on the climbs, but I was able to hang in there enough obviously. I eventually caught Ryan and was running… and you do a big climb after 20 miles and you drop down and then another big climb. It’s not that big. It’s like a thousand feet, but it’s fast and it’s on this road. Those dudes are road runners, or they came from a road-running background, so they’re super fast on it. They were out of sight. Then it was super weird because you do this little teardrop thing at the halfway point and it’s 100 meters out-and-back to the aid station. Then all of a sudden I was with them again, but then they dropped me again, but then I caught Patrick on the descent, and then I never saw Sage again… until 4.5 miles from the finish where there’s another out-and-back and I saw him and I was a minute behind him. That was a surprise and not the most pleasant one. Darn it! I have to keep going hard! Honesty, I was already going as hard as I possibly could. I almost felt like I had a governor today. I couldn’t push. I was able to find a fast, consistent pace, but I couldn’t charge a hill or match a move. I was just trying to move. It worked. Being consistent really worked for me, but I wanted to get Sage there at the end. I was close, but he put a little time on me in the last five miles. He earned the win. He ran super well.
iRunFar: You finished second in this race, which means you earned the Golden Ticket. What does that mean for Dakota Jones?
Jones: I think it means fourth place is going to get a Golden Ticket because Chris Mocko has a spot.
iRunFar: Chris Mocko has an entry and Sage didn’t want his.
Jones: Oh, really? I feel bad. I don’t want to insult Western [States]. It’s an awesome race. I’d love to run that one day, but it’s just that I already had some plans to race in Europe this year, so I’m just not going to be around to do it. I’m really sorry to everyone who wants in to Western. It’s an awesome race. One day I’ll give it a shot. Not this year.
iRunFar: What are you looking to do with the rest of your season? I know I was talking to your mom at mile 38. Me and Beth Jones hung out. She was telling me you’re heading to Europe. What’s your summer going to look like?
Jones: In about two weeks I’m going to go to Europe for about two months. I’m going to do these two races over there. The first one will be the Maxi Race in Annecy, France. It’s on May 27. It’s a ridiculous race. It’s 110k with a ton of vertical. It loops the lake in Annecy. It’s part of this new series that Salomon is supporting. It’s going to be very different than this race. It will be at least twice as long as this race time-wise, probably more, and a lot more vertical and a lot more technical. I’m a little nervous about the distance, but I definitely prefer that terrain. Although, this race was super fun. Lake Sonoma is super fast. It’s a trail race, but it’s smooth and fast, and you have to be able to move. I usually gravitate toward mountain and technical races, so it’s good for me to challenge myself on this. I’m beat up right now. My calves hurt. Then I’ll stay there, and at the end of June, I’ll run the Mont Blanc Marathon. It’s kind of the goal to do those races, but also I like traveling. I have some friends over there. I want to work on my Spanish, so I’ll stay with Depa. He’s the speaker at all those Spanish races. He’s going to teach me Spanish. It should be a cool trip.
iRunFar: What could go wrong? Congratulations to you on your second-place finish at the 2017 Lake Sonoma 50 Mile.
Jones: Thank you. Yeah, I’m super psyched.