Joe Grant and Dakota Jones are two very down-to-earth, personable guys. They’re also quite fast as their sub-26 hour finishes for second and third, respectively, at the 2012 Hardrock 100 confirms. While quite long, the following interview… and then casual conversation should give you a window into who they are as well as what Hardrock is really like.
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Joe Grant’s 2012 Hardrock 100 Finish
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Dakota Jones’ 2012 Hardrock 100 Finish
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Joe Grant and Dakota Jones Post-2012 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: We’re here again. This is Bryon Powell here of iRunFar with Joe Grant and Dakota Jones. How are you guys doing?
Dakota Jones: I’m doing great, Bryon.
Joe Grant: Doing great, Bryon.
iRF: Joe and Dakota were second and third here at the 2012 Hardrock—pretty impressive performances for both of you at sub-26 hours. Pretty good days throughout more or less? [Grant: nods] It was actually really interesting this year in that it really was a race. At half way you guys were passing each other at the top of Virginius. you were in the lead [Jones], no you were in the lead [Grant] there and at Governor’s Basin a couple of miles later you were leading [Jones].
Jones: They went off course at Virginius.
iRF: How did you go off course at Virginius?
Grant: I went down the wrong scree chute.
Jones: You looked pretty rough when I passed you there, too.
Grant: I was cold. I was cold. It was a very small… it was like 30 seconds or one minute off course, and then he called me back on course. He basically surged down to Governor’s and put like three minutes on me at Governor’s.
Jones: Yeah, I felt great there.
Grant: And then Hal [Koerner] just came cranking down towards Camp Bird Road, from Governor’s to Ouray. He passed me, passed Dakota, and he had 9 minutes on us by Ouray.
iRF: 3.5 and 9 [miles], or something like that?
iRF: How long were you running together? Back and forth? The first half, were you mostly together?
Grant: Basically to Engineer aid station.
Jones: Yeah. We were together for a long time. At the start of the race we were running together, we were back and forth at Virginius, and then up to Engineer—the climb out of Ouray—up to Engineer aid station which is about half way. You caught me and did not pass me. I was chatting with Tony [Krupicka] for awhile.
Grant: I wasn’t talking. You were chatting with Tony.
Jones: I started eating a bunch and started feeling pretty good, and I got ahead of you and was feeling kind of bummed because it was really fun chatting with you guys. Yeah, then I got a ways ahead of you and didn’t see you until like 89 miles in after that.
Grant: Yeah, I was being pretty conservative on the downhill roads, so Hal and Dakota were running faster there. I was climbing pretty well, so I’d kind of catch up on the climbs. Then at Engineer, Dakota kind of took off on that road. Then I started feeling kind of rough from Grouse to Sherman. What is it, 20 miles in there?
Jones: Grouse to Sherman is 14 miles.
Grant: 14 miles. That was my low point definitely.
Jones: Was it?
Grant: Yeah, I felt really rough in there and thought I was just going to walk in from there.
iRF: So Grouse to Sherman, you [Jones] made a move after coming off Handies. You hit the road at Burrows Park and made up four or five minutes on Hal in four road miles.
Jones: I wouldn’t call that making a move. I guess it looks like it.
iRF: A minute per mile on a road section…
Jones: I was just moving. So like I was feeling good, and I was excited to get into the Grouse Gulch aid station at 60 miles feeling good. Then you go over 14,000-foot Handies Peak, and then you have this huge descent—it’s like 5000 feet all the way down to Sherman. Yeah, I just felt good; I was really happy. I was starting to feel like we’re getting late in the race and I’m feeling good, so I could start pushing it harder. So I did. Then I got to Sherman and I don’t know what the heck I did there. It took me 17 minutes to wander around doing nothing and then I left.
iRF: It’s like slow-motion pinball in there.
Jones: I’m embarrassed. I can’t even remember what the heck I was doing. So 17 minutes of bull—- later I was out of there and I couldn’t really run again for the rest of the race. So, whoops.
iRF: Anything you learned there, Dakota?
Jones: I don’t know, man. Don’t stay in aid stations 17 minutes? I don’t know what my pacer was thinking. Darn it, Mike [Foote].
Grant: Apparently, Telluride is the rough spot going the other way, and Sherman is kind of notorious for that [going this direction on the course].
iRF: You [Grant] weren’t looking good at Sherman.
Grant: No, I wasn’t. But my plan before the race was, even if I wasn’t feeling good, was just to get through the aid station quickly. So I just made sure that… I changed pacers there. Tony had been pacing me from Ouray to Sherman. At Sherman, Wolfeman [Mike Wolfe] picked me up. We just kind of marched up the climb and got to Pole Creek, which kind of takes a long time. There are some flat spots in there that I didn’t run; I walked all of that. My stomach wasn’t too bad, but it was just kind of touchy. So as soon as I’d start to run it would just, ehhh, not feel that great. But then I came into Pole Creek and the guy was like, “Dakota is 15 minutes ahead. He’s looking terrible.” For some reason I started feeling great. Just like, I ran all the way from Pole Creek to Maggie and made up nine minutes on that four-mile stretch on Dakota. Then I could see his lights up on the hill at Maggie, and he was moving pretty slow. I could kind of tell he was just hiking out slowly. Then I just felt really good and caught up to him on the climb up there.
iRF: So on that section, Dakota, you were looking back the whole time, so you had a sense of where he was?
Jones: Yeah, I was very aware that we were being caught by him.
Grant: Well, we saw the lights…
Jones: You could see the lights pan back, and pan back…
iRF: You’re supposed to turn off the lights before you look back.
Jones: Ahh, yeah.
Grant: Well, I kept on saying to Mike, “I think it’s just somebody on the course.” He’s like, “Nah, nah, I’m pretty sure they’re moving that way.” They keep looking back, and we’re catching them. I tried to get you [Jones] to rally and go get Hal on Maggie, but you were just like, “No.”
Jones: No, I was walking downhill at that point.
iRF: What was the cause of it? Were your quads blown? Was it energy? Were you just tired of running?
Jones: I don’t really know. My legs were just really tired—85 miles of Hardrock will do that to you.
iRF: Did you suffer less than last year?
Jones: No, actually. I suffered more than last year—last year when I had a horrible race. I think I suffered in a different way. I was way more prepared than last year. Last year I didn’t really realize what I was getting into and I was just like… kind of got to Ouray and blew up. It was like a surprise that it was this hard, and I just had to grind it out. It was terrible. This year I kind of knew it; I’d been there before. So when I blew up, I knew what to do: walking slowly as much as possible.
iRF: So I think after last year’s race, you said something like, “I can’t believe I had such a bad race… or that I felt that bad and finished second.”
Jones: Yeah, now this year I ran 1.5 hours faster and was a place lower.
iRF: Well, you ran 1.5 hours faster.
Jones: Yeah, definitely. That’s the thing. A lot of people have actually come up to me and said, “Dakota, I know it’s not what you wanted, but good job.” What do you mean it’s not what I wanted? I don’t have to win everything. I think third place is great. Anyway, it’s just the way it goes. I don’t know how to run 100 miles well yet, but I’ll keep trying. Joe and Hal had a better day than me. Those guys were in it. I’m glad to see that; it’s awesome. I’m happy with my time. I’m very happy with my time.
Grant: Same for me. I was really happy with my… It’s a really good feeling when you finish strong. You’re just not in survival mode at the end, and typically that’s the case at 100 miles. Here I just… as much as I had that rough patch from Grouse to Sherman, it’s just odd how that happens. Sometimes in 100’s…
iRF: The light switch goes off and then comes back on?
Grant: Yeah, it just comes back on, and you’re like, “This shouldn’t be happening really because I’ve been running for this long and…” Yeah, it felt really good to be able to go hard at the end. I thought Hal had run the roads too hard, and after we talked at the end and he said that was where he really wanted to wanted to put the moves… that was his strategy. He just wasn’t coming back. That’s when, at Maggie when I passed Dakota, okay, if Hal’s not coming back, I’ve got to go get him. He just held it really, really strong to the end.
iRF: Did that surprise you guys at all, how well Hal held up that last half of a mountain 100?
Jones: I’m not going to lie. I didn’t see that coming.
Grant: I don’t know. Hal’s really tough. He’s just got a really good mental game. He always brings it. I knew he was fit and really well-prepared for the race. He hasn’t raced a ton. He knows what he’s doing. So there was no doubt about that. It’s just that the course is hard. So at some point, it doesn’t matter how tough you are, it’s just… I thought… But well, Hal’s above that.
Jones: That was incredible. It was really, really cool.
Grant: Yeah, he just ran an incredibly good race.
Jones: He ran a smart race. He really laid it all out there and was able to hang on.
Grant: And he just made his moves where he knew he was strong—those long downhill roads, he just kind of opened it up. That’s where he gained his time, and then he just maintained through the rest of it.
iRF: And you did to charge. I haven’t really looked at the splits, but someone said you did 2:12 from Cunningham to the finish. Rumor is that that was the fastest ever. Normally a good winner’s split from Cunningham to the finish is about 2.5 hours.
Jones: Hal had a slow split for the last nine miles. Even my split beat Hal’s split which isn’t saying a lot because I was dragging butt.
Grant: Yeah, it’s just a good feeling. The run down into Cunningham off Green Mountain is super fun. It’s just a great trail, so if you’re feeling good, it’s just…
iRF: You’re using the word “trail” lightly?
Grant: Yeah, it’s a little…
iRF: Alpine basin?
Grant: Yeah, you just come in and I was just really energized going through there. But I’ve got to say, the last quarter mile on top of Little Giant there are these false summits, that’s actually where JB Benna was filming. I might have run fast on that last bit, but that’s not caught on camera. I was really hurting on that last quarter mile. I was walking super slow.
iRF: So, you have to ask each other a question about your races. Got anything?
Grant: We said everything we needed to say on the course.
Jones: Those questions stay between us.
iRF: What happens on the Hardrock course stays on the Hardrock course?
Grant: No, it was really cool to be able to share a lot of the race. When he took off, I wished I could hang with him on the climb up Engineer. Early on, we were a group of about seven going into Chapman, or KT at least, and six at Chapman. It’s just kind of cool when you’re out for a long day in the mountains and having some company…
Jones: Old friends, little chat catch up… It’s a lot of fun. It’s a cool sport that we can do that. We really have, at the start of the race, eight hours, before we start really getting into the race… something like that. So you can actually chat because we’re just going easy. There’s just so far to go. There are not a whole lot of sports where you can go easy for 8 hours.
Grant: Well, I think you commented at some point, “We are racing right now.” We were kind just walking up a hill chatting about whatever. Then you’re like, “This is actually a race.” It was kind of funny.
iRF: After the race, Dakota, you said something like how cool… Ultrarunning is always about community, but right now the top races have all sort of like congealed and you all end up seeing each other.
Jones: Keeping track of the same people. It’s really neat, especially for me. I’ve been out in Silverton for a month and a half training on the course, which I love, and I really revel in the days I spend in the mountains alone just running by myself. But during Hardrock, it’s just so cool to be on these same trails that I’ve done by myself, but this time I’m with all my friends. There’s all these people out there cheering for me and everyone else.
Grant: It’s pretty exciting, too, when you’ve got friends doing well. It’s funny because as much as I wanted to catch Hal and Dakota, I’d get into the aid station and it’s, “Where are they? Where are they?” They’d tell me and it’s, “Ahh, they’re still kind of far up.” But then it’s also like, that’s cool, they’re having a really great race. So it sort of like motivates you, too. Yeah, people are doing really good in front. That’s a good feeling, you know?
iRF: Yeah, I look forward to the next time we’re together. I think I’ll see you at Speedgoat [Grant]? Where will you be next, Dakota?
Jones: [Ultra] Cavalls del Vent. It’s in Spain. It’s a 50 mile race in Spain. He’ll [Grant] be there, too.
Grant: I’ll be there, too.
iRF: Awesome. Well, have fun in your running adventures running and otherwise, guys.
Jones/Grant: Thanks, Bryon.
Jones: When you start feeling good, it’s like, wait a minute, have I just been slacking off for so long?
Grant: That’s kind of the thing, though. You’re just feeling crappy, so you can’t go that hard. Actually, when things start to pick up again, you’re like, you actually have that energy because… Because for me a lot of it was just kind of stomach stuff. I wasn’t throwing up or anything, but it was just makes you feel low energy, I guess. But as soon as that starts to get back on point, you can just rally, because you haven’t been going that hard before.
Jones: Yeah, you sure rallied.
Grant: Yeah, it was cool. [To iRF: is this the B-roll?]
The Post-Interview Interview (Bonus Footage)
Jones: Ahhh, I’ve got to get out of here.
Grant: That was sweet. Virginius is always a trip, too.
iRF: What is Kroger’s Canteen like?
Jones: Well, it was wet and cold…
Grant: It was cold.
Jones: …and I was freezing my butt off.
Grant: We just got pelted by hail for three miles probably. It was hailing wasn’t it?
iRF: You couldn’t feel it after all that cold rain?
Grant: Well, you were just kind of numb and you’ve got your head in your knees just going up the hill. Then suddenly you show up at there’s Roch and they’re offering you tequila which I didn’t drink.
Jones: Did you see that guy on top of Engineer?
Grant: Yes. What was his line? “That’s what I’m talking about?”
Jones: “That’s what I’m talking about!” I’ve already wrote a blog about it. It’s cool. You’ll see it.
Grant: You’ve posted it up?
Jones: Not yet, but I will. So nobody else blog about that, okay?
Grant: He said it like 10 times. You’re coming up the valley and all you hear is this screech. Then as you get closer you hear him, “That’s what I’m talking about!” Then you get to the top on the road at Engineer Pass and he’s saying, “Okay, I’ve got hot drinks, cold drinks…” but it’s all alcohol.
Jones: He has a bottle of Bailey’s and a bottle of Jack Daniels. He had some shot glasses…
iRF: So this isn’t even someone part of the race, it’s just some random dude at the top of Oh! Point.
Jones: He had this cooler of beer, nice craft beers, too.
Grant: He’s not a random dude, he’s kind of a legend.
Jones: He’s not random, he’s sort of a character.
Grant: Hey, JB [John Basham]! Awesome run, eh? I hear you got a ride and then went back?
John Basham: Twice! I went left down Stony Pass and then right down Stony Pass. The third time I went the correct way.
Grant: Nice, man. Epic, man. We’ll catch up soon!
Basham: Yeah, we will.
Grant: He’s a good dude.
Jones: That guy’s tough.
Grant: Twelve miles off course. That’s better than I did last year.
Jones: That’s straight up…
iRF: It’s hard to beat your record. You did well.
Grant: Well, I tagged an extra peak, but I didn’t do that many miles.
iRF: He did catch a ride up to the extra peaks. He went to Cunningham, and then got a ride back to where he got lost.
Grant: That’s crazy. That’s cool, though. He got it done. Yeah, because I thought he dropped.
iRF: I was told he dropped. He was sitting at Cunningham after getting a ride up there. Who after getting a ride to an aid station decides, “I’m not going to take it…” The word is he didn’t care if he was going to get DQ’d or not.
Jones: He just wanted to finish. That’s pretty cool. He thought he was going to get DQ’d but he still wanted to finish.
Grant: So they didn’t DQ him because he got lost on the course…
iRF: He did every mile of the course.
Jones: Yeah, but people talk crap about Hardrock a lot, but that’s it, they’ll reward the people who are out there for the right reasons. He was like, I don’t care if I get disqualified. I want to finish the race. That’s what they like about it. It’s not about winning. It’s about the experience of being out there. He had the right reasons.
Grant: So why did he get the ride to Cunningham?
Jones: I don’t know.
iRF: He couldn’t get back on course.
Grant: He couldn’t find the course at all, okay. That’s hilarious.
iRF: He was wearing a button-down every time I saw him, except for at night he was in a tech tee.
Jones: Was Hal shirtless all night?
iRF: I asked him. He put a shirt on at Cunningham.
Jones: He put a shirt on at Cunningham? That’s 4:30 in the morning.
Grant: It’s funny because I had a long-sleeve on and I took it off at Cunningham because it was warm.
iRF: It was awhile after.
Grant: It was half an hour after.
Jones: It wasn’t that far. I saw you guys. I actually had a great profile because I was coming down the other side. I saw Hal and his headlamp looked terrifying. I don’t know what the heck he was doing. He must have been looking around or something. It literally looked like he was darting around up and down the mountain like 100-foot radius.
iRF: Are you sure you weren’t hallucinating?
Jones: Maybe, but it looked like a fly, literally. It was definitely his headlamp.
iRF: He was probably fumbling around with his shoes.
Jones: Like a fly. I was going, “Oh my gosh, what is going on with him?”
Grant: It’s funny because when we saw your headlamps coming down, it was sort of the way… because we could see Hal across as we were coming down into Cunningham. So when we saw yours coming down, I was looking at my watch thinking and seeing how long it was going to take you to get down. Even when I was up top coming down off of Little Giant, Wolfeman is just like, “He was a half an hour back at Cunningham.” I was like, “Keep looking, man, keep looking.” Apparently Hal got Carly [Koerner, his pacer], she would stop every two minutes to look if I was coming. Hal was coming down and like stop, “Take a look. Take a look.” I mean, I was like 34 minutes back at Cunningham, so unless…
iRF: That’s probably what the crazy light was–from Carly stopping and looking…
Grant: Might have been.
Jones: I don’t know what the deal was. Yeah, I knew you were probably looking back worried about me. It kind of made me laugh in a way. “Joe, stop worrying. There’s no way I’m going to catch you.”
Grant: Yeah, just in that moment. I was still looking for you on the single track through there. “Wolfeman, is he there?” He’s like, “No, I think you’re good.”
Jones: That would have been awesome because we agreed that we’d finish arm and arm if we…
Grant: Hey, man, we told Hans [-Dieter Weisshaar] that’s what we’d do… except for Hal was in front, so we messed up our plan of… Hans told us before the race that we should finish together, in first place together, so that way we’d both get in next year and we wouldn’t have to go through the lottery.
iRF: That’s sporting. That’s good logic. That’s a German talking right there.
Grant: It was brilliant.
iRF: What if we all just… What if when we finished, we just laid down right in front of the finish…
Grant: Just stop right there…
iRF: And all just walked across together…
Jones: No, man. No way. We were all spread out too much. That would be funny.
iRF: We could give you a sleeping bag… Oh, that’s probably unfair aid. Yeah, couldn’t do that.
Jones: I’m going to go eat a donut.
iRF: There are donuts?
Jones: No, my crew got me donuts for during the race, baked in Telluride, from the bakery over there. Dominic [Grossman] used them because I showed him.
iRF: Is that a “Colorado Bakery?”
Jones: Yeah, baked in Telluride; it might be a double entendre, you can decide for yourself. Anyway, best donuts ever and I didn’t eat any during the race, so I’ve got a bunch now.
Beth Jones, Supermom (More Bonus Footage)
Beth Jones: The most fabulous persons you could ever want to meet. Just ask me because I’m a mommy of this person [Jones] and associate mommy of this person [Grant].
iRF: So why are they such great people?
Beth Jones: They’ve got great legs, really nice butts, and great attitudes.
Jones: Great mothers. Thanks, Mom!
Grant: Thanks, Mom.