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The Lightning Round 50K, Hardrock 100 Edition: Dakota Jones

We’re asking thirty-one elite runners and visionaries thirty-one rapid fire questions. What makes them tick? Up next, Hardrock athlete Dakota Jones.

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Dakota Jones, 31

Dakota Jones is an elite mountain runner living in Bozeman, Montana. He is the executive director of Footprints Running Camps, which combine environmental activism and mountain athletics. At 21 years old, he finished second at the North Face Endurance Challenge; has won the Transvulcania and many other mountain ultra races. He is currently pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering and is a Nnormal athlete.

What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up? 


Do you drink enough water? How many cups per day, would you say?

I think I drink enough water. I certainly try to. I don’t keep track, but it must be like four or five liters.

Yes to meditation or no to meditation? 


RELATED: Trail Runner articles on mindfulness

Best book you’ve read in the past three months?

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

What is the most common thing you think about while running?

How do my previous injuries feel today?

What is the one food you obsess over near the end of races?

Definitely not more sugar, my god. Maybe a burrito or something savory.

One quote you seem to always come back to for motivation while running . . . 

It’s not a quote, but I just remind myself that success is not about being great all the time. It’s about being consistent. Also, success is relative, and many of my most “successful” runs were alone, untimed, in the wilderness. (But maybe that’s just me rationalizing going slow.)

Coffee or tea?


RELATED: Does Coffee Hurt or Help When Running?

Your latest (Netflix, Hulu, AppleTV, Disney+, etc.) binge show of choice.

Derry Girls.

Favorite trail shoe of all time (Even if it’s no longer available).

It’s not yet a tried-and-true shoe, but the new one from Nnormal I’ve been testing is at least as good as anything else I’ve ever worn.

Your all-time favorite race course.

Either the San Juan Solstice 50 miler, the Hardrock 100, or the Juneau Ridge Run. Choosing three is cheating, but I’m willing to accept that.

Least favorite sports nutrition flavor?

Raspberry. GTFO of here.

Morning runner, midday runner, or evening runner? 


What’s the sweet spot in weekly mileage for you during a training block?

Honestly, like 85 miles. Supplement that with a few hard bike rides (or skis in winter) and I’m psyched. But training is very different between races, so it’s not a set number at all, really.

Average hours of sleep per night?

As many as possible. Usually 7.5-8 but 9 if I can.

Name some all-time favorite pieces of running gear you rely on? 

The Salomon Agile Wind Jacket goes with me nearly all the time.

When the going gets rough in a race, what do you murmur to yourself under your breath?

Do the best you can at every moment. It’s okay if that’s walking, just so long as it’s the best you can do in the moment.

What are three words (or one sentence) you’d share with someone new to trail running who is looking to improve?

Stop trying to compete, and start going on adventures.

GPS watch, regular watch, or no watch when running?

No watch. 

Meat or no meat?

No meat. 

You can sit and have avocado toast with one famous mountain/trail athlete. Who’s that?

Rickey Gates.

Forget Fastest Known Times. What was your Funnest Known Time?

Among many others, the annual Juneau Mountain Run was incredible last year. Blue skies, big mountains, amazing community, and massive wilderness for 9 hours. I can’t think of anything better.

Skateboard or rollerblades?


If you were a Spotify playlist, what would your title be?

Songs For Trying Too Much at Once.

Favorite race distance?

50 miles?

You’re stranded on an island with only one board game. What game?

Probably Bananagrams. You can make up lots of new games with that. Or just a deck of cards for infinite variety.

Tacos or burritos? 


How do you keep track of your training? (Strava, paper log, other, nothing.)

Paper training log.

If you weren’t a trail runner, what do you think you’d be doing instead?

Riding bikes. Maybe I would have kept climbing.

LAST QUESTION: What is the single biggest adjustment you’ve made to your training regimen over the years that’s elevated you from good to great?

Running less.

Into the Route: Trail Running in the Alps

A quest to create a multi-stage tour designed specifically for runners