Dakota Jones is an ultrarunner living in Bozeman, MT. Dakota is one of the best athletes of the last decade in the sport, with an amazing list of athletic accomplishments from some of the sport’s most important races. At 31 years old, Dakota is now studying mechanical engineering at Montana State University with the goal of applying that education towards a career in environmentalism. In addition, Dakota runs the Footprints Running Camp, which endeavors to develop leaders in environmental and social justice. We talk all about Dakota’s career, his education, his values driven approach to sport, his upcoming race at Hardrock and Freetrail’s new sponsorship of the Footprints Running Camp. Footprints is releasing a film about the 2021 camp on Sunday 12/19 on YouTube.
Thanks to Compressport for their support of the podcast! Shop Compressport running product here, use code FREETRAIL20 for a 20% discount.
- Learn about Footprints Running Camp
- Link to the Film Premiere — 12pm MST on SUNDAY, December 19th
- Donate to the Footprints GoFundMe
- Follow Dakota on IG
Dylan Bowman: Hey fam season's greetings. Welcome back to the free trail podcast. Of course I am Dylan Bowman and I am always so happy to have you here. Hope everybody is getting excited for the holiday season. This is going to be a longer intro, but bear with me. We have a couple awesome announcements to share. So stick tight for a second today. Our guest is one of my personal favorite athletes ever on the circuit and somebody I have known since he was just a teenager. The great Dakota Jones finally joins us for a long and really enjoyable conversation. Dakota should need no introduction to most of you. He has been one of the best athletes in the sport for the past dozen years, and now still only 31 years old Dakota has a ton of great perspective about the sport, about his position in it. And generally how to use trail running to have a broader impact on the world.
Dylan Bowman: I have wanted to have Dakota on the show ever since I first started this podcast a couple of years ago, but the reason we chose to do it now is because Dakota is releasing a short film, this coming weekend on Sunday, about the footprints trail running camp, which he founded and which will celebrate its second edition coming up next July in 2022 in Silverton, Colorado, for those unfamiliar, the footprints trail running camp endeavors to develop the next generation of leaders in environmentalism and social justice. It is a week long trail running camp. Yes, but it's also an educational workshop complete with talented mentors and guest speakers to help these awesome ambitious campers brainstorm environmental projects that they will then take home and implement in their local communities. And that will hopefully have a unique, positive impact where they live. The film is premiering this coming Sunday at 12 noon mountain time on the footprints YouTube channel, you will find a link to that YouTube channel in the show notes it's brand new.
Dylan Bowman: So go over there and smash the subscribe button, say that you don't miss out. I had early access viewing and the film honestly is really amazing. It's seriously awesome. I was absolutely touched borderline emotional and I would highly recommend that you tune in 12:00 PM mountain time on the footprints YouTube channel. And the other reason that Dakota and I sat down for our discussion now is to announce a partnership between free trail and the footprints running camp. We at free trail are proud to come on as a sponsor for the camp and our financial contribution. As I understand it will go towards hopefully providing a scholarship for a camper in need of additional support. Dakota's whole philosophy is about democratizing this information, democratizing this experience, uh, and helping to empower a new generation of leaders being future oriented in his approach to collective climate action. So there is obviously great alignment with our values here at free trail, and we are really proud to be part of it, but you can be involved too, seeing that it is the holiday season and some of you might be in a giving mood.
Dylan Bowman: I am also linking to the footprints go funding campaign in the show notes of very worthy use of your hard earned dollars. If you are looking to make a philanthropic contribution this holiday season, please click through and donate what you can to support these future leaders. Okay, moving on to another huge announcement before we get to Dakota, I'll try to make this quick, but it is something that we've been working hard on behind the scenes and that I am so excited to share with you. The great audience of the show that announcement is that we at free trail in partnership with daybreak racing have acquired the Gorge waterfalls, a hundred K and 50 K, which will be happening this coming spring, just outside Portland, Oregon, where I sit now, the race states will be Saturday, April 2nd, for the hundred K and Sunday, April 3rd for the 50 K for those unfamiliar, the Columbia river Gorge is one of the truly great trail running destinations in north America.
Dylan Bowman: And we are so looking forward to bringing this race back and showing off the trails in our backyard here in the Pacific Northwest, a bit of history about the race for those unfamiliar Gorge. Waterfalls was a west coast classic on the circuit under the direction of rain shadow running for many years, it was even a golden ticket race until 2017. When there was an unfortunate fire in the area whose aftermath has canceled the event for the past four years. But in 2022, the race is back under new ownership with a fresh vision and a new start finish line in cascade locks, Oregon. And it is our goal, both myself and our race director, Jeremy Long of daybreak racing. It is our goal to honor the legacy of rain shadow and to deliver a truly special race experience for our participants and their friends and family. We are also very excited and proud to have red bull.
Dylan Bowman: One of my personal sponsors and supporters. We have RA red bull onboard as a core sponsor of the event with many more brand partners to be announced soon. It is my plan also to produce some fun peripheral events in addition to the race itself. So I'll be announcing those as soon as they become more solidified. We also will a hundred percent have a prize purse for the top finishers. We are still sorting out those details now. So I'll be announcing many more things about the race in the coming weeks and months, but just know that we are very excited and we plan to put together something that is very, very special. And those, some of these smaller details are still TB. D what I we can confirm is that Gorge waterfalls hundred K will be a qualifier for both the 2023 Western states, 100 as well as the 2023 ultra trail Duma Blanc in Shay France, which we are very, very excited about.
Dylan Bowman: We can also confirm that, uh, camping will be allowed on thunder island, just steps from the start finish line. So feel free to, uh, bring a tent and, uh, be prepared for a fun communal festival atmosphere, celebrating our great sport at the start finish line. So for now, what you need to know is that free trail is now in the events business.
Dylan Bowman: Friday, December 17th at 6:00 AM Pacific time. I'd suggest setting your alarm clocks and getting on it. First thing in the morning tomorrow, we are really looking forward to welcoming runners and celebrating their efforts during this two day trail running festival here in the great Pacific Northwest. And we really hope you will join us. Finally, this episode is sponsored by comport the great trail, running compression and apparel brand based in Ansy, France. They are truly amazing people with a phenomenal product, and we couldn't be happier to have them on board. Please go Christmas shopping for yourself, or firstname.lastname@example.org and use code free trail 20 all caps free trail 20 or 20% off your purchases. Okay. That's it on with the show, please. Welcome the legend. Mister Dakota Jones. How about, uh, Bozeman, man? You happy up there?
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Yeah, Bozeman's cool. Um, you know, it's very hip everybody's into being in Bozeman, which has made our housing prices out of control.
Dylan Bowman: Well, dude, that's happening all over the country. I mean
Dakota Jones: Probably
Dylan Bowman: Moines, Iowa. It's the same thing.
Dakota Jones: Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Then COVID
Dakota Jones: Months after we moved here, COVID
Dylan Bowman: Happened. It's exact same with us. Yeah.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. We couldn't meet anybody. Uh, but it's like, I have made friends still and it's like, I know Mike Wolf, you know, that was, he was like my one guy I knew here. Legend and I've, I've just
Dylan Bowman: Got into hard rock too, man. Did you guys celebrate?
Dakota Jones: I know there's like, there's actually three of us from Bozeman. Really
Dylan Bowman: Awesome. Yeah. I miss Mike Wolfman. Next time you see him, give him a hug for me. Tell him I say hello.
Dakota Jones: So he's super funny. I, I don't see him often, but usually it's like for 48 hour ever.
Dylan Bowman: I heard he is crushing it with his gym and stuff. I heard he is sort of a pillar of the community.
Dakota Jones: I think so. Yeah. I, I can't speak to how financially solid it is cuz I think it's a tough market. Yeah. Tough business to run.
Dylan Bowman: How, especially through COVID
Dakota Jones: It's a super cool gym. They do an awesome job. I go there a lot and I think it really helps and they own the space next door. So they're now building this like bouldering gym in there too Uhhuh. Um, so it's and you're right. He is like a, like a community figure. Yeah. Puts a lot of events together,
Dylan Bowman: Dude, this is great. We're gonna just leave this stuff in. Let's get started here because you know, Mike Wolf is actually a, uh, I don't know. He seems like he was maybe a, sort of an important figure in your career too. I'm thinking back to what was it? 2009, 2010. When you guys had that battle at TNF 50,
Dakota Jones: I think that was 2 20 11, 20 11.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Yeah. And uh, I know he was in some ways influential in those early days of, of your career. And now you guys are neighbors there in Bosman, Montana, and you both got into hard rock this year. So any, any words about Mike Wolf you wanna share with the audience? A legend of our era of the sport?
Dakota Jones: I mean, I feel like ultra running is like the least extreme thing he's ever done.
Dylan Bowman: Know?
Dakota Jones: Um, but like, I mean, from that battle when, when I raced with him, I mean, Jesus 10 years ago. Oh my God. Um, it was like weird neck and neck for the whole race. But I, I, I like very much remember coming around a corner once and Mike was, we were like halfway through and Mike was behind me and Alex Nichols was in front and Alex like twisted his ankle and I was kind of helping him. And then Mike showed up and we're kind of helping Alex and Alex was like, you guys go, oh
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. There's that iconic photo of you guys sort of like helping Alex Nichols down the trail?
Dakota Jones: Well, I was like helping him. And then Alex is like, guys, you need to keep going. I'm done. You go. And we're like, okay. And I like, look at Mike, like, are you ready to go? And he's bleeding out of his forehead, iconic photo, like all down his face. And I'm like, Jesus, what happened to you?
Dylan Bowman: But that was kind of an interesting moment in the sport too, because it was kind of when the races were really becoming very competitive, like you guys were only separated by a couple of minutes at the finish line. And this was sort of like the advent of YouTube also, because then there was the video that came out a short time later. Right.
Dakota Jones: He did have those videos every
Dylan Bowman: Year. And that's, I think, you know, the YouTube ation of the sport has been one of the major contributors to its exponential growth and you and Mike Wolf were, were part of that. It's funny too, because I mean, I remember he was, uh, you know, he had gone to law school and was like working on, I think he was like working for a federal prosecutor or something up there in Montana. Yeah. He like a
Dakota Jones: Federal prosecutor job. Yeah. In Helen, like it
Dylan Bowman: Sounds tense, but he fully was like, you know, this isn't what I was meant to do and sort of scrapped his law career to pursue his passion, open a gym and his hometown of Boman Montana. And yes. You know, he is sort of, uh, retired from like trying to be a professional athlete I think. But you know, it's so good to see him get pulled at hard rock and still
Dakota Jones: Totally. Yeah. I mean he's strong as ever. He just, yeah. Doesn't wanna be in the scene too much.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah, yeah, yeah. He's always, uh, kind of had that personality to him too, but for sure, great guy anyway, Dakota Jones, it's so good to have you on the podcast, man. Well,
Dakota Jones: Thanks so much, man. I'm I'm flattered like this is the podcast is the real deal. This is uh, I mean you've been making waves of this thing. It's really cool to see what you've done.
Dylan Bowman: Ah, thanks so much, man. Yeah. And I'm one of your biggest fans going back years and years and years, even though I'm five years older than you. I feel like I've always kinda looked up to you as an athlete and as a there
Dakota Jones: No way as a human.
Dylan Bowman: And I feel like we have a million things to talk about outside of Mike Wolf. Um,
Dakota Jones: No, we haven't caught up in
Dylan Bowman: Years.
Dakota Jones: Did you do your homework or do you actually remember the things?
Dylan Bowman: No, I, I, I went back and just like double checked everything, but I'm pretty sure you were 19 at the time, but I do remember it pretty vividly because yeah, I mean, you kicked my ass, you beat Nick Clark and Ryan Birch who are two of the best guys in Colorado at that time. And you're like this youngster and I was like 24 at the time, still feeling like an up and comer and you beat me by an hour. I was like, who is this kid? This teenager
Dakota Jones: Good conclusion? Yes.
Dylan Bowman: Do you have any idea where I'm, where I'm leading you? The fact that we're coming up on 2022,
Dakota Jones: Is this something about how I've been doing this for like 15 years now? And I used to
Dylan Bowman: Dude, it's like, we're dangerously close to the 10 year anniversary of 2012. Right. Which was a pretty, I think huge year for you.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. I'm still riding that. Whether or not
Dakota Jones: Like it was, it's like embarrassing. I go to Spain and they're like Dakota Jones. I'm like, that was a long time ago guys, get over it.
Dylan Bowman: Well, let's start here man. It's, you know, it was 10 years ago that, uh, you had a very powerful year in 2012. That includes Transcona, which is what you're referencing with your popularity and fame in the country of Spain. How did that year impact your athletic career? Because you were like 21 at the time. I can't remember if this is sort of before you had dropped outta college or not,
Dakota Jones: But no, it was like right after it was, it was this tremendous validation of my life's choices. I was like, I did it, I can run race, but it was, it was great. Cuz I, at the end of 2011, like I'd been racing a ton from mostly 2010 and 2011. Um, and I had finally at the end of 2011, signed this three year contract with Montreal mountain hardware. Um, and it was like, finally, I mean, it wasn't, you know, I'm not gonna buy a house. Like we don't make a lot of money in the sport. Sure. But for me finally, I was like, well, well, if I live in my truck, I can like live off this, you know, like this in cliff bar. And like, I can make this for real. And I was in college at Colorado state just cuz I was like, what do you, what else do you do after high school? I don't know.
Dylan Bowman: No.
Dakota Jones: Um, and so yeah, at the end of 2011, I, I was like, I'm just paying money to, I, there's no reason for me to be here. So Uhhuh, um, what
Dylan Bowman: Was it about that first college experience where you didn't really feel at home on campus or was it just that you wanted to pursue professional sport?
Dakota Jones: I mean, it was per it was like, it was kind of both like I was, I wasn't really into what I was studying. I was like, I I'll study English cause I like to read and write, but then I was like, I don't know, man. I could read and write the way I want to without spending $5,000 a semester
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. I mean, it was, you did take a mature approach to it. Like you did take it seriously, like with the approach,
Dakota Jones: The professional back. And I'm like, boy, it would've been cool to like go to frat parties cuz I don't know what
Dylan Bowman: That, that's what I mean, given the fact that you were 19 or 20 years old at the time, like you, it felt like you did approach it in a professional way. And then as you mentioned, 2012, this was a huge validation of your life's decision to drop drop outta college and pursue professional sport. You won lake Sonoma, then you won trans Wil KAA. One of, probably one of the handful of people ever to beat Killian in a race. And you know, then you did hard rock for, I think it was the second time that year. So talk about that year in particular maybe. Is there any through lines that you see from then to sort of where you are now in your career?
Dakota Jones: Yeah, I mean 2012 was definitely a big year for me because I did like got, I got invited to do this big trip to Europe with like the whole sky running crew. They invited like 50 people, 50 elite athletes from around the world. It was crazy. Right. Um, and then we show up in LA Palm in the Canary islands for this trans Lacan. It's like 75 K I didn't really know much about it. And we show up like Thursday afternoon and the race is Saturday morning. And so, you know, we slept like 12 hours the first night, not at all the second. And, and then we just start racing and I mean, it was as much as surprise to me as anybody else that I won. I remember like coming down the finishing shoot, like, are you for real?
Dakota Jones: But I remember also like being kind of discomforted by it. Like they give you a lot of attention if you win races. And obviously I put myself in that position, like I trained hard and ran a race where it's like, I know that if you win, you get attention. But it always, it has always made me super uncomfortable because it's like, people treat you like you're some freaking superhero and I'm like, no, I just ran this like really arbitrary distance, really hard. And it's cool and I'm proud of it, but I'm not better than anybody. And I remember just being like really like after everyone Charles Wilcannia, they, they were like, Hey, do you want some quiet time? And the race organizer took me to this hotel room with eCare Carrera. And we like sat in this hotel room together for like an hour just in the dark one. And I was like, I gotta go
Dylan Bowman: Dude, this is interesting because I don't know. You've always struck me as sort of like this independent idealistic person and also like sort of a contrarian. And it's just, this sort of feels that, uh, it's sort of a feeling that, uh, at least perception of you in the way that you're talking about this and the fact that you didn't necessarily feel comfortable in, you know, in the spotlight, as it were after winning this race. Am I touching on something there that's accurate? Well,
Dakota Jones: I don't know. I think that it's a bit hypocritical too. I like, again, I put myself in that situation. I knew it was gonna be there and like anybody else, I love it when everybody's like, oh, you're so great. You know, that always feels good. And winning races, you get that. Um, but it, I don't know. It's just, I feel like trail running for me has always been something that I want to do for the sake of the, the experience for the sake of the, the movements and the sports and like what's Matt. What, what has Al it's always been important to me that I remember that what's really valuable about this is the activity and the places we do it and the people I do it with. And I think that in terms of like being uncomfortable in the spotlight, it's it's like, I don't know. I'm I think part of me is afraid that I'm going to seek that out and do the sport because of that. Not because of like the value that's inherent in the sports. Um, I don't, I don't like I don't wanna lose those values.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Do you, do you think of yourself as like a super independent almost contrarian person?
Dakota Jones: I, I feel like sometimes
Dylan Bowman: The reason I say that is specifically because of Transcona. I mean, thinking back and remembering, because I have this weird photographic memory for shit like this, but I think, I remember you wore like a race vest before. That was a thing before it was cool. Right? It's 2012. You had two, I think you had two handhelds and everybody else went minimal. Right? You're racing against Killian and Mike Wolf and Fran SW and you're 21. Right. And you wore your vest because this is just memory because you could stuff, it filled with gels. And of course in the European scene, at least in those days, they didn't really have gels at aid stations. And so you took this sort of contrarian approach that ended up being like the mature right thing to do at the ripe young age of 21 years old. And he won the race maybe as a result of that. That's what I mean by independent thinking and contrarian, because this was sort of the height of the minimalist running era, wasn't it?
Dakota Jones: Yeah, I think so. That was definitely when born to run was hot. Um, yeah. I mean, I, I don't know. I didn't go out there and look around at everybody else and think like, oh, well I'm gonna do it different than them, no matter what. Um, but I just, I know, I knew and I found this to be true throughout racing is like, especially early in the race when everybody's getting after it, if you can run through an aid station and put time on people there, it, it can like mess with their heads. You can get a big like sort of emotional advantage whether or not you're that far ahead. Right. And so for the, especially, I mean, I don't think I took any food. I took all the food I needed for that race from the start. Yeah. Which was a bit excessive. You don't need to do that, but,
Dylan Bowman: But how smart
Dakota Jones: It allowed. Yeah. It allowed me to run through the aid stations or just at the very least just stop for water and keep going. Um, and so,
Dylan Bowman: But I mean, that's, that, that was somewhat of a brilliant move is at 21 years old when everybody else was trying to go as light and fast as possible. And you have two handhelds and a backpack filled with all the gels you need throughout
Dakota Jones: Thera
Dylan Bowman: Anyway. Yeah, I guess so fun to reminisce about that. And I think it was obviously a really important moment in your career, but also I think kind of an important moment for American trail running too, because you know, of course you're just this up and coming superstar super young and you go onto, you know, the European home turf and beat killing the king of his day and still the king of the sport and Fran wall was in the race that day too. I
Dakota Jones: Think I know that's where I met him, I think. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Um, and yeah, I mean, I'm sure it was just like, uh, a powerful moment in your career and yeah. A big validation of the trajectory you were on and dropping outta school and pursuing this full-time. Yeah.
Dakota Jones: I mean, I felt super lucky, man, and, and it's, it's just so nice, like getting to, to do this as a job, you know, like that's what I wanted. I was like, I want to compete at the highest level. I wanna do the best that I can. And like having that opportunity to race in Europe was value was like wonderful in itself. And then like being able to win the race was, you know,
Dylan Bowman: It was awesome. What an awesome race.
Dakota Jones: And then, yeah. And then run in hard rock that year. Um, I came back and ran hard rock and that was fun because, uh, well I remember being like, it was awesome cuz I finished hard rock and I ran an hour and a half faster than I had the previous year, but I also finished one place lower cause tow grant and how corner beat me. Yep. Um, but it was, it was really cool. Um,
Dylan Bowman: And now you get your chance again in 2022, we'll get around to talking about that, but okay. You also make me wanna ask you about, I mean, you just said like you wanted to compete at the highest level and you've always, also struck me as like a very intensely competitive person. Who's okay. Who's like, uh,
Dakota Jones: The
Dylan Bowman: Bad, no, no, not at all, man. I don't mean that in a bad way at all. What, what I mean by it is like, I feel like you're hard on yourself. Is that uh, is that accurate?
Dakota Jones: Yeah, I think so. I think a lot of athletes are right. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Where do, do you feel like, uh, that's sort of been with you your whole life? Where does that come from?
Dakota Jones: I mean, I don't know sometimes I don't know. Maybe those things aren't really for me to decide. Yeah. You know, it's like I'm too close to it. It's hard to know. Um,
Dylan Bowman: Well, so as an example, I recall, I can't remember if you wrote an article or somebody wrote it about you or you talked about how, like at some point in your career you had to like unfollow Keon because you were sort of bummed out about maybe you were dealing with an injury at the time and obviously Keon was winning every single race there was and you wanted to sort of be at that level. Right. And of course, acknowledging that Keon is fundamentally a good person and you have a lot of respect for him, but that there was a part of you that felt that it was necessary to like, oh for sure. Don't show me killing's content because I'm not at that level. And I wanna be at that level. That's what I mean by being hard
Dakota Jones: On yourself. Yeah. Yeah. I mean, we all hold ourselves to a high standard and especially like I've dealt with a lot of injuries over a few years and um, it's just, you know, it's tough to, to feel like you're not accomplishing what you wanted to or what you like, you know, you get in your head like, oh, I could have done this. If I had done this other thing differently and I blew it and you know, it's not the way my mind's always thinking. But um, especially when you're injured, you can't exercise. You can't like train it's. Yeah. It's easy to get in your own head about that stuff.
Dylan Bowman: Do you feel like you've outgrown it a little bit now in your thirties? It's crazy. Dakota Jones
Dakota Jones: Just turned 31.
Dylan Bowman: He's always the youngest guy out there. He's in his thirties now.
Dakota Jones: Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Do you feel like you've outgrown that a little bit? Like, are you, are you more at peace with where you are and
Dakota Jones: Yeah. I mean there, it's not perfect. Yeah. I definitely still want to compete and I don't think I have much or least not very well in a while. Partly cuz of coed, but I don't know. There's like, like I'm in school now. I'm in engineering school. I came back, I've done five semesters now. Um, and that was like a big thing to come to terms with. Cause it's like, oh, here I am going from being like the young, hot guy in the trail running scene to like not the hot guy, you know,
Dylan Bowman: Hot
Dakota Jones: Hit that came. But you know, it's like going from being like the fast young guy in the trail running scene to being like the old dude, who's an undergrad with these kids who are 10 years younger than me. Yeah. And they're all like they were in high school like a week and a half ago. So they are already good at algebra. And I don't know how to, I haven't done math for 12 years and I've come to terms with that too, you know, but it definitely makes me feel like, oh, I, I, there's a part of me. That's like, did I ruin my chance as a trail runner? And now I'm like, this is my backup plan because some people treat it that way. Huh? Like my grandma, she's like, I'm glad you're finally gonna get a job. I'm just like, that's not why I'm here, grandma stop it. Uh, but I don't know. I, I definitely feel comfortable with my place in the sport now. I think that I can still compete at a high level. I want to run hard, but also like I'm a good athlete, but I will never be a great athlete. I'm not kidding. Come
Dylan Bowman: On dude.
Dakota Jones: No, but seriously, it's like, I'm not gonna compete at that level because it's like, there's too many other things that I've got going on. Like I'm going to school, I've organizing these camps. Like I just can't race enough. And I don't think I can put enough of myself into racing and competing and training to be like the great like legendary style athlete like Killian is, um,
Dylan Bowman: Dude, that's interesting.
Dakota Jones: And like, it was like a part of me, like years ago I like came to terms with that. I was like, what's important here. Like if, if I get to being 65 and I look back at what I've done, like is winning every race gonna be the most important or is it gonna be something else? And uh, well, since I couldn't win every race, I was like, it's better be something else.
Dylan Bowman: Well, dude, there's no question that when you're on you're one of the best our sport has ever seen, certainly one of the best Americans and your resume proves that out. You have dealt with long bouts of injury and, and tough years, maybe more so than well, certain, probably more so than me. Um, but you, you're absolutely much more talented than I am. And I'm curious, you know, like as somebody who has been a pro athlete for like half your life, it's kind of crazy. What have you learned from those, from those down years or from those experiences of injury or of under performance that have maybe helped you to become this mature undergraduate?
Dakota Jones: Now 31 year old undergrad.
Dylan Bowman: Talk about that because that's really interesting, man, because what you're 24 or 25 at that time. Yeah. And
Dakota Jones: Yeah, it, it would like, definitely happened like at, at UT M B, it kind of came to a head I'd been thinking about it a lot, but then I was like running UT M B and I didn't have a great race, but whatever, you know, I was running it, I got to SHPE lock at like 75 miles and I felt bad, but eventually was like, okay, I'll just go walk it in whatever. And I got like a mile out of there and I was like, I, I don't wanna be here. Like, I'm not interested in this. And, and I like kind of, I felt like super guilty, cuz I'm have this free trip to the most beautiful place in the world to do this ridiculous thing. Mm. Um, it's like, the privilege is overwhelming. And so I feel guilty about like giving up on that, but I was like, you know what?
Dakota Jones: I'm spending all of my time, all of my energy, I'm making sacrifices and asking all the people I love around me to make sacrifices and like, what is it really for? Even if I did have the best race of my life, like, what is this really like doing some good, like I'm looking at these glaciers and I'm like, these glaciers are definitely not getting any bigger because I'm having a racing career. Yeah. And like environmental issues have always being a big concern for mine and of mine. And I'm just like, is it really worth it to spend my life working this hard, to make like myself 0.5% better per race or less, you know? Cause those margins at the highest level are smaller and smaller, which is the way it works. Yeah. And that's fine.
Dylan Bowman: So point
Dakota Jones: I don't wanna take that away from somebody else, but I kind of came to realization that like, I need some greater purpose here,
Dylan Bowman: Dude. That's pretty profound, man. So in 2014 you sort of come to this realization that being a pro athlete, isn't enough for you. How did you then kind of take steps to fill, fill that void? Was that when the, maybe voices started coming back in your brain about going back to school or doing some of the activist stuff?
Dakota Jones: Yeah. It wasn't really school for a while. Honestly. I, I think that you
Dylan Bowman: Struggled with it for a while though. It sounds like.
Dakota Jones: I think I, I struggled with it and like, didn't deal with it.
Dakota Jones: Like I didn't, I wasn't able to do any racing for real for a year. Yeah. And then I had a good summer in 2016, but like, I wasn't really doing much difference, but I was like, thinking about this all the time. Like, how can I make this about more than me. I was trying to figure this out. And especially like, like in 2016, I went to Europe for the advanced week and, and I was supposed to run races. I still had this stress fracture
Dylan Bowman: I remember this.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. I was like, I don't wanna fly. And I looked up all these different ways to like save energy or, or to like get to Europe without flying and cargo. Ship's a thing which in like the world is sustainable travel. It's technically, it's
Dylan Bowman: Like a container ship, right?
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Yeah. Technically it's a, it was actually a true cargo shit. Yeah. There were cranes on it. There weren't really any containers. Okay. This is a distinction that doesn't matter to most people
Dylan Bowman: This is what I kind of mean by you always being this kind of like idealistic contrarian. Who's like rigidly true to your values in a good way. You know, I don't, I don't mean that as like a, you know, no, it's some sort personality, flaw,
Dakota Jones: It's kind of a test, you know, like how true to your values can you really be? And uh, I mean, in the environmental world, it's really hard because if your values are about having no negative impact on the world, then you're going to watch yourself constantly VEing your own values. Ah, because there's no other way to live in this world than using resources in the world that's been set up for us is like entirely built on fossil fuels. And that's like a big part of the, the work we're doing with power to like systemically change these systems, but it's hard and we've inherited a world that damages the world.
Dakota Jones: Like these are this it's, it's much bigger than that. Yeah. Um, but anyway, like it, it, as I was starting to get into like trying to reduce my own impact and be an environmental advocate, the first thing that I think a lot of people think of is like, how do I reduce my own impact? Um, I know now that reducing your own impact doesn't mean a damn thing. What matters is collective action. And the best thing you can do as bill McKibbon says is to not be an individual stop being an individual start taking collective action. But I've learned a lot about this. Wow.
Dylan Bowman: I'm I'm just drawing the, the, the line straight to footprints, which we'll talk about here in a little bit. Yeah. Collective action.
Dakota Jones: Exactly. But so that first year I was there in 2016, I was like, I'm gonna go to Europe, I'll take a cargo ship. It'll be sweet. It was, it was not super sweet.
Dylan Bowman: How long of a trip is that? How long does that take?
Dakota Jones: I mean, it didn't have to take 17 days, but it did. I remember like you have to sign a thing on the cargo ship that says like, I understand that I'm not the priority. And they, they ex they know that I'm getting on at one spot and getting off in another. Um, but it's like, what happens in between could be many things. And like, we were supposed to go from Philadelphia to France. Um, and I, like, we left in the nighttime and then I went to bed and I got up in the morning and I went out on the deck and I was like, that's funny, the sun is to my left. Shouldn't it be like ahead of us?
Dakota Jones: What happened is they had some, some cargo to pick up in North Carolina, which was like a last minute thing. So we went from Philadelphia to North Carolina and then we sat in the bay, but offshore for four days and I'm like, paddling my bike. I'm gonna show you. You're
Dylan Bowman: Like, is environ ma is environmentalism really this important to me
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Like the community or like the sport itself.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. And like, has it helped you as an athlete to, I mean, one of the things, I guess what I'm getting at is I always feel that having external interests out outside of sport make it much easier to deal with the down times. Like when you got your stress fractures and you were simply a pro athlete and you didn't have work with Cal and you didn't have the footprints camp. Right. Like, have you noticed that as you've spent more time dedicating yourself to these other things that it has maybe buoyed your, your life as an athlete, like have you been able to stay healthier because of the fact that yeah. You're not so wrapped up in this athletic identity?
Dakota Jones: Yeah. I, I think so. Um, I don't know. It's I never wanted to like disavow the trail running scene or something. And actually that's something that I really like about what you're doing with free trail is like, you're really bringing this community together and you're supporting what makes trail running like different from other sports. We're not track and field, we're not cycling or triathlon. And those are super cool sports. I like following them. But like in trail running, we definitely have a unique sense of like value on community and experience. That's like, like a major part of it. It's like at least as much a part of our sports culture as like competition mm-hmm
Dakota Jones: Like my best friends are my trail running people, you know? Yeah. And so I, I didn't wanna like give up on that and, but I was also like, you know, maybe I can, I don't know. I felt selfish in a lot of ways. And so really what I've come to to do is like, well, what's good about trail running. And I'm like, it's being out on the mountains, it's working hard. It's these people that support us. It's, it's the community, it's the miles we share with our friends. It's the new friends we make, like all of this inspiring stuff, it it's centers on the community. And, you know, that's something that we can use for a larger purpose. Yeah. So we can, I mean, trail running is often what we say. We're like, oh, if you wanna protect your trails from climate change, then get involved with this action or something. And, and really like, we all know that trail running is not the biggest loss we'll have if climate change continues on checks
Dylan Bowman: In fact it'll probably benefit, right. Because all the trails that are under snow most of the year are gonna be accessible to, uh, to trail running
Dakota Jones: Time and on fire
Dylan Bowman: Yeah, that, that's a good point. So,
Dakota Jones: But, um, well, yeah,
Dylan Bowman: The reason I, I was just gonna say, the reason I ask is because I think that, you know, you and I started coming up in the era that we did and you actually making a go of it as like a full-time pro athlete and, and not feeling like it was enough for you. I just want to, as the sport continues to grow and evolve and mature, to make sure those who come behind us also feel that similar obligation, not only to the sport and to carry the values, but to not necessarily get so wrapped up and just being the athlete. Right. And have something else, totally. That they, that they can sort of hang their hat on or attach their personal identity to beyond just standing on a podium, which I think you and I both learned the hard way.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. And, and it's like, that's something that I see as like an opportunity for us is if I talk to younger athletes and they, they want to get into this, they want to be competitive on sites cuz competition's awesome. I don't wanna take away from that. I wanna keep competing, but I also think that we can do more and we can use like the shared passion for larger purposes. Um, and it, it is a big part of our culture. And so we can like build this community, this culture around, making yourself more than just an athlete. And that I think really sets our, our sport apart. Um, and also consumers, like every brand knows that consumers in the outdoor world are, are majority like very value driven in the purchases they make. Yep. And it's very much in the best interest of most brands to have a big sustainability or social justice component mm-hmm
Dakota Jones: And like they, they really put it together. And um, you know, for young athletes, if you're trying to get sponsored, really being an athlete isn't enough. I, I see, I can see a lot of brands now that like expect their athletes to be like community leaders or to have some larger organization or pro or projects that they're working on. Um, and that just makes them more marketable for the brands. So yeah. Good for everybody.
Dakota Jones: Yeah it's um, so yeah, I went to high school in Durango and basically lived there Southwest Colorado. Um, ever since I did go to school at Fort Collins for a few years, but Durango's been home base, um, since forever. Um, but yeah, like starting in 2016 with the Congress ship, I like started to take these actions and try to become like more, just like a better environmental advocate on my own, but also like putting myself out there and use what position I have within the sport to promote good. And, and that really started with protect our winters. I started working with them in 2017 and I I'm pretty sure I was like one of their first non snow sports athletes. Um, but that has rapidly changed. Now they're as much non snow sports as they are snow sports. And I mean, working with P has been this huge educational process about like how to really like your community for good, how to make a difference.
Dakota Jones: Like what environmental action really looks like. Um, and, and learning about it. I mean, there's so many smart people involved. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Love the message that P or the emphasis they place on the messaging of the outdoor state. I think it's a brilliant psychological tool to use in lobbying, as you describe to, I guess, characterize our community, that being the outdoor sport community as basically being a state in itself, because we carry so many people, a large population in the United States and also a lot of purchasing power and that if we mobilize as a state would, right. If we were the state of Colorado or something like that, then yeah. That, I mean, we would be a powerful block of, uh, of voters and we are a powerful block of voters. And when we mobilize together, there's a lot of Stu a lot of difference that we can make in the world.
Dakota Jones: Right. Yeah. And, and that's, P's thing is action. And the political sphere, primarily they do a lot of different things, but they, they really are trying to mobilize the outdoor industry for political action for the climate. Um, and so it's been interesting learning about that, but in addition, like I've done other projects. Um, and most, I feel like to the point of my process into school yeah. Was in 2018, I ran the pike peak marathon and I did it as an effort, a fundraiser for P I rode my bike from Silverton, Southwest, Colorado, up to Colorado Springs and I ran the race and then I rode home and
Dylan Bowman: You, and you wanted the race, you won the race. It was incredible. What a great story. Yeah. So it was awesome. I was there, it was, it was incredible. It was so cool.
Dylan Bowman: Was so cool. Just a personal anecdote. I'm just remembering, is it the finish line? I think I asked you, so like, are you guys making a, a film about this or whatever? And you're like, you're just some something like, no, man, like I didn't want a car following me on this trip. It would've made it completely pointless. And I was like, oh yeah, I'm such an idiot. I can't believe I asked that question.
Dakota Jones: I mean, I could have brought a camera. I know I've been bad about that. Uh,
Dylan Bowman: Like, yeah, I would totally defeat the purpose. If you rode your bike from
Dakota Jones: But to the point it's like, when I, when you look at this critically, like, I don't wanna take away from that. Cuz it was a really cool thing. That's like, like probably the thing in the that I've done athletically that I'm most proud of. Mm. But there's also things, it wasn't perfect. You know, I'm, I'm riding a bike made out of steel, which is, which uses coal. And it was probably fabricated in some other country and then built somewhere else. Like my clothes come from Asia, like my grocery, my food came from the grocery store, which came from who knows where yeah. You know, it was like, it was a gesture. Yeah. And it was better than nothing. But ultimately I was like, this isn't enough. Like I can't, I could do this for the rest of my career. And like, it's not gonna make a difference.
Dakota Jones: Um, what, what we need to do is like scale this up. And that means either I do something that's way, way, way bigger. Or I get everybody to do these small scale actions on their own. And then, um, yeah, basically I was like, you know what? I need to learn more
Dylan Bowman: So how does mechanical engineering tie into your environmental activism? Is it what's the end goal? I guess I should say, what are you gonna be when you grow up?
Dylan Bowman: What's clear is that like, you're really trying. Right. And I, I, I don't know. This just kind of goes back to, I mean, you even used the word idealistic and I don't know. You've just always struck me as a very idealistic person who I guess, yeah. Who's hard on yourself, but also like holds yourself accountable and like, I, you get the feeling that you couldn't live with yourself if, if there was any hypocrisy, right? Like your internal governor or your conscience is very strong, it feels like, I
Dakota Jones: Think so. Yeah. So you and I, I make mistakes. Well,
Dylan Bowman: We all do wrong
Dakota Jones: Things. Do I don't know. It's like, I just, I think with environmental issues, like there's so times so overwhelming. Yeah. That I just like, don't feel like I have any hope really. And in those, in those, I don't always feel like that. Yeah. But in those worst moments, I'm like, even if we fail, it's worth doing the best I can. Yeah. You know, even if it's not gonna work, then it's like, I'm still doing the right thing by trying to help. Yeah.
Dylan Bowman: Um, so on a, a micro level, this is just something I'm curious about the first time you went to college, you were an English major and those who've been around the sport for a long time. Know that you're incredibly skilled with the written word. And it's probably an no man. Like you're a great writer and you have a great sense of humor in your writing. And it's just like, you're very skilled with it. And I could totally see you as an English major. I mean, it is. Do you find that the mechanical engineering cuz typically the people who are attracted to an English major versus mechanical engineering major, there's not much overlap in that Venn diagram. Do you find that it's, it doesn't come as naturally to you as uh, reading and writing?
Dakota Jones: Yeah, definitely. Mm. I, I think that it's a skill, like any skill that if you work hard enough for long enough, you can pick it up and I'm getting there man.
Dakota Jones: But it's, it has been tough. Yeah. I didn't think in terms of like these analytical quantitative terms like ever, and I kind of pushed that stuff away in terms of this like more aesthetic experiential kind of way of looking at the world, which is just as good. It's not like one's better than the other. Um, but you know, going to engineering school, you, you definitely gotta think in terms of numbers and you have to be able to, like, one of the hardest things is like you take a physics class, especially in physics and they're like, they're like, well, this phenomenon happens this way. And I'm like, oh, that's cool. How do you know? And they're like, well, because this equation does this. Like if you look at the math, it just shows that. And I'm like, what do you, I mean, didn't you invent math too. Like, you know what I mean? It's like, how did
Dylan Bowman: Dude I'm the same
Dakota Jones: Way into like proof, but they do. And that's the thing about mathematics. I'm like super into math these days. Like I want to do a lot more because I don't quite get it. And it's like this language that I'm almost there, but I can't quite, but it does prove things. It shows that it's amazing what you can do. Yeah. And I also think that like, if you can communicate it, then, then it's actually useful. There's plenty of engineers and scientists who are brilliant, but don't know how to communicate effectively. And so they're not like getting a lot done at least in terms of like the large picture, like what is their work gonna do for other people? Yeah. Um, and honestly, like I, I see myself kind of on this end where as an engineer, I'll be able to understand what the engineering is going on more or less. I'm not gonna probably make some fancy inventions. I'm not gonna like create the big inventions that are gonna save the world, but I can understand them and convey them effectively. Yeah. With my two weird things
Dylan Bowman: Made with your written word, man,
Dakota Jones: The old written word, which everybody loves reading books. Huh. That's why we're on a video podcast
Dylan Bowman: Getting so old, man. We're still the old fashioned people that read books. Um, well, cool man. Well, yeah, I mean, I just really admire the fact that you had the, uh, the courage to go back to school, you know, and be the old guy on campus and you know, probably not be going to the frat parties and miss out on the real college experience that I got to enjoy when I was 18 and uh, to have it be a values driven thing and to have, and to be studying something that doesn't come naturally to you because you want to make a difference. I think that's an Admiral thing, man.
Dakota Jones: Well, thank you. Yeah. It's not easy, but I'm sure. I mean, we all put ourselves through this sometimes, but uh, when it's like really frustrating, I'm often just like, you know, what, if I already knew how to do it, I wouldn't have to be in school.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Good man. Good struggle is good. As our sport teaches us. Right.
Dakota Jones: That's right. Yeah. Well, let's talk about that's that's a sorry, but it's like in trail running, I feel like I'm not like that good at it ever, but I just don't stop. And then at the end of the race, sometimes I look back and I'm like, look, I'm in front. That's amazing. And I'm like, hoping the best, like that's it's gonna happen in engineering. I'm just like, I don't feel good at this ever, but I'm not gonna stop. I'll just keep doing it. I bet
Dylan Bowman: You're gonna win a Nobel prize or something.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Or at least a good GPA. Yeah. Like that's ano
Dylan Bowman: Um, so let's talk about footprints. This is, uh, an awesome thing that you're doing and, um, a thing that, uh, we're now collaborating on, at least in a small way, you know, I'm hoping to help contribute. So I guess just to, to start this conversation, explain what footprints is for those who aren't in or aren't aware and kind of how the idea came about and what the overarching idea is.
Dakota Jones: Totally. So footprints is a camp, a running camp that I organized where we helped develop runners into leaders for environmental and social justice issues. Um, and we do that through having a great time running, but also every camper has a project, something that they want to do to improve their own community. And we pair them up with experts in environmental science, nonprofit management, and business, um, all kinds of different backgrounds. We pair them up with a mentor and they work with that person. And also with the other campers and the other mentors throughout the week to hopefully go home with a project, that's like a template like here's how I'm gonna do this. And the idea came about, I think technically in, in 2018 I went to Juno, Alaska because our friend Jeff Rose lives up there. And for those listeners who are maybe, Hey,
Dylan Bowman: By the way, you gotta, because I don't know Jeff. I mean, I know, I know him a little bit just from back in the day, but I don't have a personal relationship with him. You need to convince him to come on my podcast. I've sent him messages and stuff. I really wanna have Jeff Rose on and have an awesome conversation, but I don't think he's really into the ultra running podcast scene anymore.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Jeff's just as cool as ever. He's so funny.
Dylan Bowman: He was one of both of our biggest inspirations, I think absolutely legend into the game.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, when I, when I started running ultras, it was like 2008 or nine. And Jeff was like the guy, he was winning every ultra every hundred, especially I, I met him. I remember, uh, I paced a friend at the bear 100 in 2009 and I finished and Jeff had just won it and he had set a course record and two weeks earlier he had won and set a course record at the Wach 100. Um, the next year he went on and won Western states 100 a breakable year, like pivotal moment for our sport. Um, and I, like, I looked up to him a ton and it was really fun for me when I started, when I got sponsored, it was by Montreal mountain hardware who also sponsored Jeff. And so it was really fun. Like he definitely took me under his wing and was always super kind and supportive of me. And I was very much in awe of Jeff. And in some ways I still am, cuz he's such a good dude. Um, yeah. But yeah, he doesn't really compete now. He's kind of stepped away from the sports and I didn't really stay in touch with him, but he for a while was running these ultra running camps in Juno, Alaska where he lives. And he invited me to come up and be like the guest runner with one and it was awesome, man. Juno's the coolest place. Like it's like ocean mountain glacier.
Dylan Bowman: I've never been, I really, really want to go.
Dakota Jones: It's absolutely stunning. I couldn't believe it. Um, and so I spent a week at the camp, um, and it was pretty conventional, you know, people come up to the camp and we like eat good food and go on these long runs and explore and just hang out and have a great time. It's super, super fun. Jeff does a great job. And at the end of the camp, I was like really sad. Like I had a really good time and I feel like I really connected with everybody at the camp. And it was like, it was really meaningful and it felt like one more example of what I love most about the sport. It's not like just winning races that gives us structure. But it's like being in a community with people who share these goals and interests, like that's really valuable. Yeah. Um, and I came away from the camp, like I wanna do this myself.
Dakota Jones: How can I recreate this in some way without stepping on all my friends' toes? Cuz it seems like everybody has a camp now
Dylan Bowman: And are connected to the outdoor industry for the most part.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. I mean, ideally yeah. That's what happened. It's like runners who are also scientists or business leaders. Yeah. Um, yeah. And so then it just kind of morphed into this thing. I started talking to friends, Claire Gallagher helped me out a bunch at first. Um, and I just like started reaching out to these people like, Hey, do you want to come teach at this camp? If I was gonna put on this camp, would you be there? And could you support me in this way? And like, this is what I would look like. And to my total astonishment, literally everybody said, yes
Dylan Bowman: Is this Dakota Jones who's really famous in Spain from the 2012 trans Bacan
Dakota Jones: People. That's how I'm known. Exactly. They're like, I went to Spain once and I heard about you. Uh, and so no, it was amazing. Like these incredible people and we got four speakers, we call 'em speakers. Now they were just mentors. Cuz we had this difference difference between speakers and mentors, but it was a thing. So anyway, the point is like every mentor is they don't, some of them are experts. Like four of them have PhDs in like environmental science. Yeah. Um, but also we have people who are business leaders, Jake black from protect our winters. Who's like the events coordinator and programs coordinator. He gave a big presentation. We have people from, uh, different brands. We have a lot of athletes come in and be mentors. People who have like worked in the outdoor industry and know how to like pull the strings, who to talk to. How do you turn an idea into like a big project mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Um, it's so cool.
Dakota Jones: It just really came together and like we were able to host the first one last summer and
Dylan Bowman: After some COVID delay, probably in 2020. So are you guys still accepting applicants for this year or sorry, 2020 twos footprints
Dakota Jones: Camp. Yeah. We haven't even started
Dylan Bowman: At the okay, good. Yeah. So maybe talk about the application process and the criteria that you're looking for in case there's people who are listening, who wanna be involved.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. We're de so we're gonna open the applications officially on January 1st. Um, and basically what we want you to do is talk about an issue in your community that you're concerned about, that you wanna help, that you want to do something to fix. And, um, what that means, like in the past we, we asked people to say like, what's your project? What are you gonna like present to us? What you wanna do for it? And really what happened at the camp is a lot of the campers ended up kind of disregarding or like getting rid of what they first thought and moving on to something else. And so really what we want is like a description of something you're concerned about and like why it's impacting your community and why it matters to you. Like what, what, what is it about this pro project or this problem that like really makes you want to stand up and be a leader in your community.
Dakota Jones: And it doesn't have to be a big deal. You could like get rid of grocery bags, like plastic bags at the grocery store, or you could totally change like the water laws in your county. I don't know
Dylan Bowman: Individuals making collective action. It's awesome. Exactly. It's really awesome.
Dakota Jones: And that's really what, what we're trying to do is like when you come to us and you're like, Hey, I want to do fix this problem. And I'm gonna be like, well, who are you gonna get to help you do it? And how are you gonna bring them together? And what's going to motivate everybody and how are you gonna set it up? Who's a structure. Yeah. Honestly it was like, we wanna teach science like behind environmental issues. And, and we do, we have a lot of that, but it's also hard to pick up a lot of science in a week. Um, mostly we provide resources for scientific projects. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: How to, to make the most
Dakota Jones: Impact, get funding. Yeah. How to create a budget and a timeline,
Dylan Bowman: Really practical skills. Yeah. It's so good to be teaching this next generation of leaders, uh, these skills and it's awesome that, that you're doing it. And the reason you and I are speaking specifically right now is because you guys have a little film coming out a week from today, we're recording on Sunday, December 12th. This podcast will come out in a few days. And I think it's gonna be Sunday, December 19th, that the film is gonna premiere. You were generous enough to share, share it with me, uh, today. And I watched it and oh, it's like a goosebumps thing. Like it really conveys what I think you're hoping to achieve with this camp. Like, it's you say in the film that like, you're not an emotional guy, but that the camp sort of makes you emotional I'm I'm totally an emotional guy. Like I'm absolutely a cry baby. And like I was moved, moved by this film. So talk about the film and also, I guess just meditate on what it was like to have this come together for the first time in, in 20, 21, this vision that started in, in uh, 2018.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Yeah. It's it's a good question.
Dakota Jones: And so maybe I go on the footprints website and find all these resources and I can put together my own project. And a big part of that is just communicating this stuff. Well, it's creating those resources, but also like a film, you know, that's how we tell stories in the outdoor world these days. Yeah. Um, and a, a good film can have a huge impact. It can inspire people and it can bring people together. And, and the purpose of the film is to, is to tell people what we're doing and why and how, and like, be like, look, you can do this too. We want you to come to camp, but if you can't, you know, there's other ways to do it as well. And we want you to feel capable. Um, we also want sponsors to buy in, so that
Dylan Bowman: Perfect segue, shall we talk about? So, you know, Dakota, you put up just a GoFundMe for the footprints camp and we should probably link to that in the show notes. We can talk about how we can get other people involved, but I just, I just donated because you posted it on, on, uh, Instagram, and then you sent me a really nice note afterwards. And I didn't actually like go and look at your guys' GoFundMe. And after you sent me that email, I actually went and looked at it in detail and it inspired me to actually do more. And, uh, you know, like I said, at the beginning of our conversation, you've always been, I don't know an inspiration for me. And, and, uh, anyway, we've sort of developed a little bit of a, a partnership or free trail is gonna be one of the sponsors of the footprints camp in, in 2022.
Dylan Bowman: Um, and I think there's a great alignment between what we're trying to do, right? Like, as you've mentioned, sort of being future oriented and nurturing kind of the next generation of leaders, that's very much in line kind of what we want to do specific to, to trail running and, you know, thinking of ways that we can make a difference also and support some of the great work that you're doing. It seemed like a, a perfect little fit. And so, uh, yeah, we're super, super proud to be on board. You and I haven't really discussed how our contribution is gonna be allocated. I don't know if we're gonna be providing scholarships to kids or helping to cover expenses, but anyway, uh, is there anything you want to want to talk about on, on this front, as it pertains to free trail time X, uh, footprints collaboration?
Dakota Jones: Well, I mean, thank you genuinely. It's, it's, it's amazing. Like every little bit counts and you're right, like working with free trail is a big deal because communication is so fundamental to what we're doing here. Um, like you can have all the best solutions to climate change, but if you can't communicate them well and share them, then they don't really mean anything. And so ha working with you with free trail, which is actively like totally transcending barriers here for like communication. You're like making this sport seem very professional and it's a big deal. Like I think if you act professional, people might believe you all
Dylan Bowman: It till you make it
Dakota Jones: And you're doing a good job. And so it's like this, like your communication skills obviously are great and it can help us share the stories from the camp. But also like what you're doing here is you're trying to promote a culture within our sport that like that preserves, what makes the sport the best for us. And this is not the kind of culture that happens accidentally. We have to actively work on preserving these things and like promoting these values and showing that like, for the people who are in this sport, this is what's important. And if you wanna be a part of the sport, you know, we are too. And maybe you think about these things, you know, you don't have to, but the point is like, I, the way you do it is really valuable. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Whatever, man.
Dakota Jones: That's awesome. But what we talked about before was the scholarship, because we wanna make the camp accessible to people who, you know, maybe couldn't come otherwise. Yeah. And so we try to give one like, ideally two scholarships, um, to, for each camp. And that, that way we can reach out to communities, um, that maybe people who like wouldn't be able to pay for it otherwise. Yeah. Um, we work with a lot of indigenous runners and I, I try to work, uh, provide these opportunities to them.
Dylan Bowman: Um, that's awesome, man. Well, yeah, I mean, you have my commitment and my contribution. I, well, you don't have it yet. You just tell me where to send a check and I'm happy to send it, but, um, but yeah, I'm really, really happy that we can be part of it and it, uh, yeah, it's a really good thing that you're doing that brings everything that we love about our sport and culture and community and it being bigger than a, about performance. Right. And also having this future oriented thing and nurturing the next generation of leaders. I think it's just something that, uh, we're really gonna be very proud to be a part of. Um, and I guess, uh, talk about how other people can get involved too. I think you guys still have the, the GoFundMe up for people who might wanna make a small contribution. Yeah. Here around the holidays when people are in a giving mood. Right. There
Dakota Jones: You
Dylan Bowman: Go. Yeah. Oh, and also talk about when the Premier's gonna be if you know, offhand.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. So our premier will be next Sunday, December 19th in salt lake city. If you're in salt lake city, we would love to see you. And there will be details on where that will be. Um, both on footprints and my own Instagram, as well as literally anybody I know in the outdoor world who will post about it,
Dylan Bowman: Oh, I'll link to it in the show notes too. And, and make sure you get me the details on the premier so that I can talk about it in the intro outro for the, for the episode that we, when we release it.
Dakota Jones: Cool. I can do that. Um, and yeah, so it's, it's gonna be really fun. We get to finally show the film to the world and, um, I I'm really hoping that it will, it will, I don't know for us doing the camp, finally, it was a way for us to prove the concept. This is a pretty new thing. And that was a lot, I was really uncertain about it coming into it. And when we went, came away from the camp, I was like, that went better than I ever could have hoped. And now we need to like, show the world, like this is worth our time and it's worth yours. And like, this is a worthwhile thing going on in the sports. Oh yeah. Regardless of what role you wanna play,
Dylan Bowman: The film is so feel good too. It's like the perfect thing to sort of pair with the Christmas season and get people inspired about doing good in the world. Appreciate that. Especially as we all start thinking about our new year's resolutions and things like that, and we're in a giving spirit, uh, so I'll link to that GoFundMe. So people who are interested can learn more about what you're doing and potentially contribute if they feel inspired so well, Dakota, it's awesome, man. I'm so it's crazy to think, you know, back to when you kicked my ass at the fruit of 50, whatever, it was almost 12 years ago now, and now here we are, is aging, uh, trail runners, trying to make a difference in the world and, uh, and doing it as a collaborators. It's pretty darn fun. So let's, uh, uh, I
Dakota Jones: Know, I hope we keep collaborating and I mean, I feel like you'd be a great mentor at the camp some days, so yeah, man, if you ever wanna spend eight days, we want you.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. All right. Well, let's, uh, let's talk offline about that. But before the footprints camp in 2022, you've got a very big thing on your plate. And so we'll finish up by talking about hard rock here before I let you go. This is gonna be like, what a week before the footprints camp in, uh, in the San Juans and you got pulled in the lottery, I guess it was last weekend. This is gonna be the 10 year anniversary of your last finish at hard rock when you were 21 years old. And I know hard rock is kind of where it began for you as a trail runner. Yeah. So what was it like to, to see your name pulled into lottery? Again?
Dakota Jones: I was really excited. I mean, I feel like I've had way more luck than I deserve at the hard rock lottery
Dakota Jones: And just like, I feel like I've gone through a lot since then. And so coming back to hard rock definitely feels like doing what I used to do in like this new way. Hopefully, you know, it's like being competitive because I like that. Yeah. But also like using it as a part of this larger mission for the community, hopefully. I mean, that's the goal at least. And so it's awesome, man. You know, just getting around the mountains and finishing is gonna be a victory for sure. But I'm definitely gonna train as hard as I possibly can to do well.
Dylan Bowman: You're gonna have your hands fall, Matt. Yeah. I guess to talk like a little bit more kind of on the performance side of things, we haven't talked about running that much. I mean, it's sort of been a overarching theme, but I guess to get a little bit more granular, you got to pace Fran wa in 2021, the absolute one of the great performances in history of our sport. Yeah. You had a front row seat what'd you do? Did you do, uh, Telluride to the finish with him? Yeah,
Dakota Jones: I guess through the last 27 miles with
Dylan Bowman: Him and you're gonna be battling him, it sounds like
Dakota Jones: We were like basically running with you. You weren't that far behind
Dylan Bowman: Dude. I was an hour behind at the finish line. I mean, I, I had a great race. I have no complaints, but that guy is on a different planet. What was it like to run those last 30 with Fransua like you had a front row seat to a historic performance.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. I mean, honestly it's like, it was like, we went for a 30 mile mountain run with a bit of like intensity. I don't know. It's like, it didn't feel like that much for, I mean, it didn't feel like that fast at any point, but the trick is that like he had run 70 miles
Dylan Bowman: Yeah,
Dakota Jones: By the time he, by the time I started, you know, so we were out there moving well and just like running through the mountains. And I was like, this is great. You know, normally when I pace, I'm just walking along for hours and hours and like he was cranking, but also he was, he was very nervous. Like we went, started in Telluride. I, I started with him in Telluride and he's his monster climb up through bridal Vale, um, Creek and up into the was saddle. It's like a four and a half thousand foot climb up to 13,000 foot. It's a bitch. Yeah. Um, and we got up high and there's kind of like long views and we couldn't see you. And I was like, sweet, we're kicking butt. Dylan's back there. And then we like went over the pass and were like, we weren't down yet. We were only like a mile down the other side and we saw your headlamp come over the pass. And then we came into the next aid station in Chapman. And as we were going up the other side, we saw you like in Chapman and then leaving. Ah, and then furthermore, you know, you lose your depth perception a little bit at night and we're like up on this pass going up to grant swamp, which is also this monster bitch. It's like so steep and loose,
Dylan Bowman: So terrible.
Dakota Jones: And we're getting up there and we could see your headlamps and it looked like they were right there. And I think you were maybe a mile back or
Dylan Bowman: Something, but oh no, no. I was way further than that. I was like 30 minutes behind a Chapman, but it was crazy for me man, because you know, I ran one of the better races of my career for sure. What was
Dakota Jones: It? Unbelievable performance. I'm so impressed, but
Dylan Bowman: It was crazy. Like it Chapman, I think I was behind by like 30 minutes, 25 or 30 minutes. And it was an hour at the finish line. I was just like, how did I lose a half hour in the final 18 miles? I was like, I wasn't, I wasn't moving that slow. So anyway, no, you're not moving slow. It was, uh, super inspiring. And it, I don't know if there's anything that you maybe learned from, from Fransua, uh, from having that, uh, personal sort of front row seat to what was another worldly performance, but uh, yeah. How are you thinking about your approach to hard attack next year?
Dakota Jones: You know, Fransua has always struck me as just incredibly consistent. That's what he does. He's like, he just runs really, really well all the time. And he like makes a plan. He's like I do three ol sweats every year, you know? And he's like, doesn't do any more than that. He rests enough. He trains well, and he just has the experience. He knows how to do this. And he's just incredible.
Dylan Bowman: He's so good,
Dakota Jones: Man. And that's like, really what I kind of want to do is I think in the past, when I was racing a lot, I would kind of take a lot of time off like in the winter and then build up really quick Uhhuh. And I seem to get hurt doing that
Dylan Bowman: Yeah. No, I think you're wise in your observation of Fransua. I think there's so much that the next generation can learn from him not only in his consistency, but how he approaches the sport and,
Dakota Jones: And he's very laid back. He's super chill
Dylan Bowman: And talk about like having things outside of just performance too. Like he's just strikes me as a very balanced person. You know, he is father of three and until recently had that vineyard, I, I want to have him on the podcast and talk about his retirement from, uh, from wine making. But
Dakota Jones: You should, as he know, yeah.
Dylan Bowman: I mean, I'm gonna, I'm gonna reach out to him. Hopefully we'll have him monsoon, but anyway, it's, it's awesome. Uh, that you're back in at hard rock, man. I can't wait to, to watch the race. I hope to be there in person. Yeah. Cause I mean, the race is gonna be one for the ages. If everybody shows up healthy, have you started planning your season beyond hard rock aside from, you know, 60 miles a week for the next couple of months? Is there any intermediary goal that you're targeting right now?
Dakota Jones: I'm trying to put that together and see like what I want to do. Um, I definitely wanna do maybe two races or like one race and like a long effort. Mm-hmm
Dylan Bowman: Just like,
Dakota Jones: I know that's the thing. I'm go back if I do, but then I was like, but then I could go to Shawn's grand can area. Wouldn't that be cool?
Dylan Bowman: That's a race man. You should do that. I know
Dakota Jones: You've done well there.
Dylan Bowman: That would be, uh, that would be a great, I think stepping stone to hard rock if you can train through the winter.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. So maybe that, you know, I'd like to support Transville Kanye again, because they've had a volcano erupting for 90 days at this point. Um, so that's in early may. It's kind of tough with finals, but probably doable. So I'll probably try to Dotsville Kanye and hard rock and maybe something else. Cool.
Dylan Bowman: It'll be like, uh, 2012. Revisit it, man. Exactly.
Dakota Jones: I should go around like Sonoma too.
Dylan Bowman: Any races? Oh man. I don't know. Yeah. I mean like I didn't get into at hard rock. So UT M B makes the most sense to me. I'd like to give that one more big swing before I get too old, but yeah, we'll see. I'm in the same boat, man. I was just like, you know, I'm working seven days a week and really like, the thing is man, maybe this is a perfect place to end is like, I feel right now as inspired as I did when we met as when I was 24 and you were 19 and all I cared about was being a runner. Like I'm so inspired by the other shit that I'm working on now that it's like, I care more about that than what my race schedule's gonna be. And that's the first time in my life that it's been like that or first time in my career. So yeah, we'll see. We'll see, I've got my hands full with so much stuff right now. I definitely still wanna train and race and compete. Um, so it's gonna be, it's totally TB for me right now. Luckily UT M B is far enough in the future to where I have enough time to get ready, but I'm like barely running right now. So, but it's all good. All good?
Dakota Jones: Yeah. No, I, I admire that, man. I, I think it's really easy sometimes when you're in a sport so much, you put so much of yourself into it. Like as you start thinking about next steps, it's easy to kind of get jaded and cynical and kind of walk away from that sport. Yeah. Um, and like what you've done is the exact opposite you've like bought in and you're like, I love this sport. It's done so much for me. And like, I'm gonna give it back. And I don't know. That's something that I want to try to do myself too. Ah,
Dylan Bowman: I like that. It's beautiful, man. Well, what a great conversation, man. Dakota, I'm so happy to have you on the podcast. It's awesome to see what you're doing with your life and with your career. It's great to see you get pulled in the hard rock lottery. I appreciate your time. I'll encourage everybody to watch the, uh, the premiere of the footprints film. That's gonna be coming out on Sunday, the 19th and uh, yeah man. Hopefully we can connect in person sometimes soon.
Dakota Jones: Totally. Yeah. It's been really, really good catching up next time. Maybe we'll talk more about you and less about me.
Dakota Jones: Things go.
Dylan Bowman: All right bro. Thanks a lot.
Dakota Jones: Yeah. Good. You
Dylan Bowman: Thank you. Dakota Jones. What a guy, what a legend. What an inspiration again? I implore you to watch the premier of Dakota's new film about the footprints running camp, which will be live on YouTube on Sunday, December 19th at 12 noon, mountain time link in the show notes. Also linked as an opportunity to donate to the footprints, go fund me and to their website where you can learn more about the application process and other things. Should you find it? Interesting. Also remember registration opens for the Gorge waterfalls hundred K and 50 K tomorrow morning, Friday, December 17th at 6:00 AM Pacific time be there or be square. We would love to have you as part of our inaugural event. Finally, thank you to copper sport for their generous support of the podcast. Use code free trail 20 all capitals free trail 20 for 20% off your purchases. You can find a, a link and a code in the show notes as well. Okay. That's it. Long episode, lots of wild shit happening right now, but I am so stoked. Love you all very much. Talk to you soon. Bye bye.