Dakota Jones has been away from the competitive ultra scene for a little while. He did crush the San Juan Soltice 50 Mile in June, but this weekend’s Ultra Race of Champions (UROC) 100k is his return to the big time. In the following interview, Dakota talks about what took him away from racing this year, how his training has gone, and why his didn’t run The North Face Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc.
Dakota Jones Pre-2013 UROC 100k Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dakota Jones before the UROC 2013. It’s been awhile.
Dakota Jones: Yeah, it’s been awhile. I haven’t raced as much this year.
iRF: Why is that?
Jones: I’ve been doing some other things. I did a lot of climbing. I went to Alaska for about a month in the spring. Then I did San Juan Solstice 50 Mile race which was kind of the only race I’ve done and focused on this year. Then… oh, then I went to Mt. Rainier and climbed Rainier. We made a video about that. It’s cool. You should check it out. Yeah, Clif Bar, thank you. Then in late July I went to the Bugaboos in Canada and climbed some granite up there. Then Reese [Ruland] and I directed our own race in Telluride. So I haven’t raced as much, but I’m feeling good. I’ve been training a lot.
iRF: You feeling amped up and here?
Jones: Yeah, totally. It’s exciting to be back in the thick of it and to go out… it’s kind of a home course, but I haven’t raced a ton… I guess I’ve never raced on these trails, but I do know these mountains pretty well. It’s cool to be here and I do live in Boulder now which is pretty close.
iRF: Did you get up and run any of the course?
Jones: Yeah, I’ve probably run about half the course before the race. Yeah, it’s going to be fun—a little snowy.
iRF: Obviously you like or you do enjoy the mountain stuff, the stuff you’ve done in the San Juans and around and everywhere else. You’ve been training a little bit specifically for this race.
Jones: Yeah, totally. Well, I mean, I’ve been doing interval stuff since I got a coach. I work with Jason Koop. He coaches me. He’s awesome. So I do a lot of interval stuff and that for speed. This race—it’s fast. I kind of signed up it mainly because of the competition. I knew everybody would be here. But getting on the course, it’s cool. There are some really neat sections.
iRF: What are your favorite parts of it?
Jones: You get to come over the Ten Mile Range which is just to our left here covered in snow and clouds.
iRF: We’ll pan to that right now. Pretty bada**.
Jones: So we get to come over that and that’s over 12,000 feet, and that’s the high point of the course. That will be very neat. Before that you go up Breckenridge Mountain. It’s a lot of trail. The part that I’m not super excited about is the bike path. There’s like interstate with two highways and you go right up the center—not that sweet, but um, I guess that’s the goal of the race is to create a course that doesn’t really favor anybody. So… it is at altitude but still I think they do that pretty well. The next part over Vail Mountain and into Minturn and back over to Vail, that’s really cool there with lots of really cool views.
iRF: I imagine on some points of the course you can almost see over to Leadville basin and that area. From the Ten Mile Range can you?
Jones: I don’t think you can see Leadville, but you can see the Mount of the Holy Cross. You can see Camp Hale where the 10th Mountain Division trained. You can see a lot of cool stuff, and the trees are just going off right now. Then with the snow, it’s so special.
iRF: Tomorrow is going to be a pretty…
Jones: Spectacular day.
iRF: Spectacular day.
Jones: And cold.
iRF: And cold.
Jones: That’s okay. I’ve got warm clothes.
iRF: Most of the races you’ve done haven’t been particularly cold. Hardrock can be bad weather, but…
Jones: Yeah, it’s not that cold at Hardrock; it’s usually nice. San Juan Solstice was warm. Last year we did a race called Cavalls del Vent which was kind of nuking on us all day. That was miserable. It’s an awesome race, but I was cold. Yeah, it definitely adds another element to the mix.
iRF: Add a layer to the layering system tomorrow?
Jones: Yeah, I might have two or three shirts on and some gloves.
iRF: You’re going to be starting below freezing for sure and then go up the ridge immediately which will be colder.
Jones: Up to 11,000 feet, yeah.
iRF: But later in the day it’s supposed to be a beautiful, sunny day.
Jones: It’s cool because you also don’t have to carry as much water. You’re not going to get as thirsty. I mean, you’ve got to drink water, but if it’s hot out you’ve got to carry a lot more water than if it’s cold. That’s a blessing I think.
iRF: Clearly there’s going to be snow on the course and maybe a couple inches up high. What are you going to do, footwear-wise?
Jones: I’m going to wear shoes for sure.
iRF: That would be good.
Jones: I usually do. I think I’m going to wear Montrail Rogue Racers. It’s kind of my normal shoe for racing. It’s not super great in snow. It’s more like a road or racing flat, but I don’t think there’s that much snow. I don’t think it’s going to be as big of a deal. Hopefully I don’t regret that.
iRF: You were the last guy to beat Kilian [Jornet] in an ultra.
Jones: Is that true?
iRF: That is, I believe, true.
Jones: Oh, no. That’s the one thing I’ve got going for me. The likelihood of that happening tomorrow is, um, slim. I’m sorry. I’m going to do my best. I want to kick his a**. That’s what I’m here for. But he’s really strong, okay? So, I think I’m fit. I’ve been training really hard. I’m rested. I haven’t raced too much. I’m fired up. I’m psyched and ready to go. And that’s the best part—a guy like Kilian, Cameron Clayton, Rob Krar, Sage Canaday, Paul Hamilton… I don’t know, lots of people are going to be here that are super fast. That’s the best part of racing is competing against that competition. I think I’m fit, and I think I can do well. We’ll see what actually happens, but I’m ready to charge.
iRF: Do you know if Paul is actually running?
Jones: I don’t know if Paul’s actually running. He told me he was going to run. He’s really fast. He won our race. He’s a guy from Ft. Collins. He’s very fast.
iRF: He also won The Rut two months ago.
Jones: He won The Rut.
iRF: I’ll have to double check because I haven’t seen his name on the entrants list.
Jones: Oh really? He told me he was. He’s strong.
iRF: So there’s really a mountain-centric portion, the road or paved bike path portion, and another mountain section. Do you sort of go with the flow with that or do you try to make contact with whoever is leading?
Jones: Yeah, they’re going to go out hard tomorrow. It’s competitive. Everybody’s fired up. It’s a steep climb right off the bat, like really steep. It’s not that long, but it’s really steep. So everybody… I bet people are going to run that. It’s so steep.
iRF: There were some good runners at San Juan Solstice, but you ran in front and ran alone for awhile.
Jones: I don’t expect to do that tomorrow.
iRF: How are you going to be able to control… you are fired up; you’re rested.
Jones: It’s true, but these guys are fired up; they’re rested; they’re fit, too. I think for this, I don’t intend to run off the front at all. That’s not really my style, usually. I would like to just maintain a good pace. This is a long race—100k. It will be eight to 8.5 hours for the winner. That’s a long time to be going, so I don’t see any reason to sprint the first 20 miles. I feel like I can run within my limits and keep tabs on the front guys that are a little ahead, that makes me feel good about it. I might try to catch up later in the race.
iRF: You were signed up for UTMB and decided not to run it. Any reasons for that?
Jones: Yeah, I didn’t do UTMB because I didn’t really feel like I was fit enough for that. We directed a race in on August 10th in Telluride and that’s a lot of work. It was awesome, and we had a good time. It took a lot of work, and it was a lot of work right at the point where I needed to be training a lot for UTMB. I just ended up sacrificing training to put on the race which was worth it, but I just didn’t have the confidence in my training. That’s a race I want to go to and feel confident in.
iRF: You’re feeling confident now.
iRF: Alright. Well best of luck out there this weekend, Dakota.
iRF: Bonus question for you, Dakota. Is that awesome or what?
Jones: Yeah, well, I’d say in my opinion, that’s awesome.
iRF: I’d back you up on that.