Italy’s Daniel Jung is so excited to be running the 2022 Hardrock 100. In the following interview, our first with Dani, get to know his history with soccer and mountain biking before trail running, his preferences for longer and more difficult ultramarathons, how he feels to be participating in Hardrock, and his huge summer of racing ahead.
To see who else is racing, read our in-depth 2022 Hardrock 100 preview.
Daniel Jung Pre-2022 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Dani Jung. It’s a couple of days before the 2022 Hardrock 100. Hi, Dani. I’m just meeting you and welcome to Colorado.
Dani Jung: Hello, nice to meet you. And yeah, it’s amazing to stay here in Colorado, in Silverton. It’s a dream for me to come here, and now the dream is coming true, to run the Hardrock 100.
iRunFar: Tell me a little bit more about that dream. You have been an international trail runner for what? Six or eight years? You’ve traveled to a lot of places. What’s it like to come to Colorado for the Hardrock?
Jung: Yeah, I run now eight years. And I’m now six years ultrarunner. So, I spend a lot of time on trails and I’ve raced at a lot of good places in the world. But at my home, the people asked me, are always, “You don’t like to run in the USA one race?” I said, “Yeah, I like to run. The dream for me is run the Hardrock 100 because I think this is something special.”
It’s not like in Europe, because here is a small town with not so much people. And there is an amazing experience for me because the chorus always, the people say to me that Hardrock is the hardest 100 miler in America but also the most beautiful 100 miler in America. And also the atmosphere. You never feel atmosphere in another race like here. And yeah, I can promise that it is a very special feeling.
Because when I asked for pace or for support or for something, the people, they are much [more] than friendly. I feel so welcome and so like at home. So yeah, so it’s really a dream, and I like very to stay here. So, thank you for Hardrock that they give me the chance to run this race.
iRunFar: This is iRunFar’s first interview with you. I’d love to know a little bit about you. How did you become a runner? You began running as an adult. Did you do sports when you were younger?
Jung: Yeah, I started like every Italian guy with football. [laughs]
iRunFar: With football, okay.
Jung: With football. So, I play until [I was] 20 or 21. I play football but in the last two, three years of my football career, I prefer more party.
Jung: So it was, I was drinking sometimes two or three days in a week. Because I live very near to a disco. My coach was always very angry with me. And he’d say, “Dani, you are big talent and you have to go much more training, and it’s not possible that you go out to drink and to do well.” So, I say, “I’m sorry, but now I prefer to make party and play a little football.” But then with 21 years I said to me, I decide to change something because I think football, there is a team, it’s very nice but you [can’t] make the, you [can’t] do the maximum, you [can’t] see what the body is, what the body is possible.
So, I changed to mountain biking. So I did eight years of mountain biking also in a high level. I compete with elite mountain bikers at the international races, but I was working on as normal but I compete with very strong, some of the best races in the world. So I win a lot of races. So I was also very good there. But after eight years in mountain biking was the days that I [didn’t] have more fun. And I think for me is the important thing that you have fun in sports.
I decided to stop biking and I was thinking what is the easiest thing to get fit? Okay, go to buy some shoes and go run. You don’t need more. And yeah, it was a good decision to do this because after one month a friend asked me, “Hey, Dani. You like to go with me to a race?” And I said, “No, not again. I don’t like to run again, to make a race again.” They go, “Come on, we go down for fun.” Okay, then, fun in the race? Not possible. So, I was there and I finished third place after, behind very strong runners. And then I was thinking, “Okay, this maybe is a good sport for me.”
And this story started my running career, and also was asking for some sponsors. They like to support me and with this, yeah, all these parts was starting a little bit my running career. And yeah, then I was feeling very well in long distance because I see that in one, two, three-hour races I’m not so fast. But then I was making one longer race and I feel very well now because it’s not so fast to begin. With this thing, I started a little bit to do a longer race. Now I’m here for a 100 miler.
iRunFar: And not only 100 miles but a very difficult 100 miles. We were talking before this interview, before we were on camera, and you said, “I prefer the technical, the difficult, the steep.” Has that been sort of like where your running career has trended has been toward longer, more technical trails?
Jung: Yeah, of course. This is a part. Also, to change a little bit my running distances and also to choose to race more technical, like Hardrock and La Diagonale [des Fous]. And a lot of other races I prefer more various hard conditions with hard, technical trails and terrain and not so runnable parts. So UTMB is sure a nice race, but it’s not made it for me.
iRunFar: [laughs] Too much running?
Jung: Too much running. I will do, but I [cannot] compete there. Fast runners, so.
iRunFar: I just learned that you are planning to do three races in a row this summer. Hardrock first, and then UTMB, and just six weeks and then Diagonale des Fous, what, another six weeks after UTMB? Is that right?
Jung: Yeah, seven weeks. [laughs]
iRunFar: Seven weeks, okay.
Jung: Yeah, I know that it’s crazy to do three 100 milers in one year. I think our people, they say now it’s impossible to do. But I will try. And I think my focus is on Hardrock and Diagonale. So, I will not prepare for UTMB. I will go, ok, I will go there but not, not thinking about the results. I am thinking more about adventure, to take the feeling of UTMB, so I go without pressure there, so I have 13 weeks rest. [laughs]
iRunFar: 13 weeks rest. [laughs]
Jung: We will see but yeah, I have to look very good on my body and have to make sure after every race, 10 days real rest. Do nothing. Maybe a little bit of swimming or half an hour of the bike to take a coffee, but not more. And also, now my preparation was very good for this race. I spent a lot of time in altitude, but I not spent so much time on the trails. So normally when you run a race like here, you have to make maybe much more longer trainings, but I didn’t do it. Because I, because when you when you plan to do three races …
iRunFar: You need to start fresh, don’t you.
Jung: Yeah. Right. So we will see what brings the next Friday for me.
iRunFar: I did want to ask you about altitude. You’re arriving today. It’s Tuesday. The race is about two and a half days away now, but you have been training at altitude back home in Italy.
Jung: Yeah, right. I have the option to train at my home in high altitude. I spent a lot of time in a hut, in a refuge, it’s called Similaun like the man, the Ice Man. They find, very near there, the Ice Man. So the refuge is only, you have to hike not one hour, and I run in 20 minutes there. So, I spent a lot of time in this refuge. I was working there and for the work they, I can free sleep and free eat. And maybe you know, we ultrarunners eat a lot. [laughs]
iRunFar: It’s a good deal.
Jung: It’s a good deal. Normally it’s much more expensive when I go down to buy the food, so it was good. And also, very funny to make service for the peoples when they come in there. So, I spent a lot of time in over 3,000 meters because the hut is at 3,000 and the mountains are about there, near there, they are 3,500 or 3,600. So, it was very good for my preparation for here for the altitude for this. I have not arrived earlier here because I prefer more to stay at home because you’ll sleep better and also I’m married now, three weeks ago.
iRunFar: Oh, is that right? Congratulations! You’re a newlywed.
Jung: Yeah. Thank you so much. It was a little bit funny because after I married, I was always away from home to spend time in the altitude. [laughs] My wife said, “Okay, now we are married but you always away from home. Why?” “Sorry, but now it’s Hardrock time.” But after Hardrock, I spend more time at home again.
iRunFar: I love it. This is a race that carries a lot of mystique, a lot of stories that sort of circulate. What are some things that you have learned about or that you’re thinking about or excited about this weekend?
Jung: Yes, I arrived today, so I was visiting a little bit of the town. I hope that I can learn much more in the next days about the story also from Silverton, from the mines, from the work of the mines and also about around the mountains here. So I will go also tomorrow with NNormal, with Kilian [Jornet], Dakota [Jones], to clean the paths here to make a good, good job and also to help them here. So I’m very open for these things and I hope that I can learn a lot from the race, from all the area here. And yeah, then I can do all these good things to the people at home and then maybe they have the same dream to come here to do the Hardrock and to visit this beautiful place.
iRunFar: I love it. Well Dani Jung, good luck at Hardrock this Friday and Saturday. It’s exciting to feel your enthusiasm. It’s palpable. Like, you’re stoked.
Jung: Thank you so much. Yeah, I will give my best. It will be hard to compete with Kilian and François [D’Haene] and Dakota and some other runners but I feel good, and we will see what is bringing the Friday, Saturday for me.
iRunFar: Good to talk to you.
Jung: Thank you so much for this nice interview. Thank you.