Dakota Jones

Posted on December 2, 2009 by Team Montrail

The newest addition to Team Montrail for 2010 is also our youngest (ever?) athlete, and one we’re really excited about.  Dakota Jones is 19 and lives in Durango, Colorado. He’s been running track and cross country his entire life, loves running trail, and only in the past few years became interested in ultrarunning.  To boot, Dakota’s been a Montrail wearer for a long time.

Dakota had a big year in 2009, including some races and finishes that are pretty impressive.  In February, Dakota took 5th place (p.r. with 4:32:49) in Moab’s Red Hot 50k, finishing ahead of some pretty established and talented runners.  In May, Dakota took 2nd place at the Jemez Mountain Trail Run 50 mile with a time of 9:53.  He ran a 1:16:54 half marathon at the Canyonlands Half Marathon in March, paced a friend at Hardrock, and recently set a new course record for the Ultimate XC Moab 20 mile race.

Clearly, Dakota is an extremely talented runner and seems to excel on mountain courses.  He’ll be running The North Face Endurance Championship this weekend to test his abilities against some of the world’s best.  We’re very excited to have Dakota running for Montrail and look forward to following his growth and progress.

 

Japan 2013 – 10/28/13

By Dakota Jones

I’m back in Japan.

Last year I arrived in Tokyo completely unprepared for what I was to find. If Japanese people weren’t so nice I likely wouldn’t have made it past the airport. Unable to go forward, too poor to go back before scheduled, I would have spent ten unhappy days in the airport, wandering between gates like Tom Hanks in The Terminal. Fortunately for me, the nice people of the land of the rising sun kindly directed me to the correct taxi service, which safely took me to my hotel without incident. I reached my hotel room, laid down on the bed and breathed a sigh of relief.

Try as I might, I soon found that I couldn’t huddle in my room for the whole trip. Just outside my window flashed the bright neon lights of Shibuya – Japan’s fashion district – and whether or not I was mentally or emotionally prepared, I had to see what it was like. So I took the elevator downstairs and walked out into a world completely unlike anything I had yet seen.

I’m more of a mountain guy, to be honest. I grew up in a small town and still gravitate towards small towns. Though I now live in what is undeniably a small city – Boulder, CO – I am right at the edge, near the mountains and the trails which I use every day. When I want something fun to do, my mind gravitates not towards Las Vegas or tropical beaches but to the mountains. The wilder the better, the bigger the better, the fewer people the more attraction. So, knowing this, you can imagine my surprise upon finding myself all of a sudden in the fashion center of one of the largest cities in the world. Overwhelmed is only one of the emotions I felt.

Other emotions I felt were: scared, surprised, a little angry, pretty tired, excited, hungry and curious as to why the hell everybody looked like a freaking maniac.

All around me were lights and noise, bustle and action. The streets were filled with not just regular cars and taxis (all of which, by the way, were driving on the wrong side of the road), but also with massive semi-trucks whose trailers were wrapped in album art for boy- and girl-bands with poorly-translated English names. Radiating from the trailers we said band’s particular brand of noise at top volume. The buildings on either side rose in unbroken sweeps of metal and glass, often draped for several stories with advertisements for fashion companies (imagine a ten-story Lana del Rey). Along the street level flashed blinding lights of all colors. From each storefront boomed tinny pop music. Neon signs lit up and blacked out, expanding and contracting with an unceasing line of ads and enticements. The higher the neon sign, the larger the neon sign. In the distance flashed Japanese characters forty or fifty feet high.

You know that scene in every movie about Tokyo where a normal intersection is running at its limit with a huge amount of traffic, then every light goes red and the street is completely overwhelmed by thousands of people crossing in all directions? That’s where my hotel was. Right above that intersection. I stood and watched for at least thirty minutes one night with the same fascination I generally reserve for car wrecks or public meltdowns. And what noticed above all was that everybody was dressed like they were in a music video. From the shoes upward, people had on some of the craziest and most diverse outfits I’d ever seen. Bright colors, unexpected skin, heavy makeup and tight could not be tight enough. I stared in awe.

That was only the beginning of the bug-eyed orgy. Every restaurant has phlegm-colored plastic food on display at street level along with a menu. If you wish to eat at that restaurant, you look at the accompanying floor level and take the elevator up. Looking for a department store? They’re everywhere, but whereas in America we have a surplus of land that allows us to expand horizontally, Japanese stores expand vertically. Walk into any outdoor store (as I did many times while touring the city in the following days with the local Montrail/Mountain Hardwear representatives), and you can look at shoes on the first floor, backpacks on the second, climbing gear on the third, skis on the fourth and so on up to the seventh or eighth floor. If the intersections seem packed, get used to it. The population density is incredible.

Buy any food item in a convenience store and it will come wrapped in three layers of plastic with a plastic tray. And buy two, for that matter, since Japanese portions are sadly inferior to American sizes. And for those in need of electronics, you have come to the right place. The electronics stores in Shibuya are massive and always full of bright lights, helpful staff and eager consumers. Though the prices aren’t much better than in America, they do have the benefit of appearing insanely huge before you convert the number to dollars. To give you an example, a camera that costs 29,000 Yen is actually a more reasonable $300. So you’re like, “holy shit! Twenty-nine thousand Yen!” and then you’re like, “Oh, three hundred bucks. Whatever.” And then you buy a camera and take a bunch of pictures.

The reason I was in Japan last year was the same reason I’m going this year. It’s called the Hasetsune Cup (Ha-set-sue-nay) and it’s one of the biggest trail races in Japan. Here is some more information about the race that will totally bust your gourd:

- The name “Hasetsune” is a shortening of the name “Tsuneo Hasegawa”. Tsuneo Hasegawa was a well-known Japanese mountaineer renowned for his dedication to long, self-supported adventures in challenging places. He died doing on one of said adventures, and his friends decided to start a race in his honor.

- The race is 71.5 kilometers long, which cruises in at a cool 44-ish miles

- It starts at 1:00 pm, which means that every runner has to run for a while in the dark. The cutoff is 24 hours, which should give you an idea of how challenging the race is.

- Looking for aid? You came to the wrong place. Hasetsune has a total of one aid station(s), and at said station you are only permitted a maximum of 1.5 liters of water.

- The race is really hard. It reportedly has over 6,000 meters of elevation change, but I think that means it has 3,000 meters of up and the 3,000 meters of down. That’s still a huge amount of climbing and descent, and it all comes in agonizingly short bursts. Straight up for two hundred feet, straight down for one hundred. This zig-zag pattern denies any recovery or rest and steadily builds up to a major peak, then proceeds in a similar manner down the other side. There are three peaks in total, and they all hurt.

- More than two thousand people run every year.

- The race is technically within the city limits of Tokyo, though it’s about a two-hour drive from where I was staying in the city.

The primary sponsor of the Hasetsune Cup is Montrail, hence my presence and shameless promotional activities. What you may not know about Montrail is they do really well in Japan, so they are able to roll out extra colors and features that aren’t seen in the States. In fact, last year I was surprised to find another entire Montrail shoe that is only sold in Japan and South Korea. This year I will be running in a special Hasetsune version of the Bajada, with coloring around the outsole that mimics the view of the lights of Tokyo from the top of the third peak on the Hasetsune course. This goes to show how far out of their way they are going for me. I have a relatively big foot in America (size 11), but in Japan the sample size is even smaller. In a country where I look over the heads of most people while walking in the city, building a shoe to my size before it is on the market is a significant effort. So, if anybody who works for Montrail in Japan is reading this, thanks guys. You rock. I love my my shiny shoes.

The race was a wild adventure. I was asked to give a short speech just before the start, but they were running behind schedule. I still gave my speech, but upon stepping down from the podium the gun went off and I wasn’t even in the starting corral. I had to run down the line, leap the barriers and dodge several hundred people before I reached the front. After that things went about as smoothly as they can go when you’re running at your anaerobic threshold up a mountain. I huffed and puffed along as well as I could and took a long time to get into rhythm. Soon enough I found myself running alone through the woods.

The course had an air of mystery. We ran all day and night through damp forests, carefully stepping between the many roots and rocks. The clouds hung low in a dense fog which dampened the sounds of the birds and wind, making them seem far away and sad. I hiked uphill and ran downhill through a serene land of hills and water, wood and vines. The peace and tranquillity seemed distinctly Japanese. The mountain forests felt like the ancient stronghold of a deeply spiritual people. I felt a calm respect for the generations of people who had walked these hills before me, and an overwhelming gratitude for the opportunity to walk them myself.

I raced hard too. By the top of the first major peak I had run through the two liters of water with which I had begun the race, and was forced to run more than ten kilometers farther without water. At the one aid station I filled up my bladder, but with eighteen kilometers to go (more than ten miles) it was empty again. At that point I was winning, but this was late in the race, when whatever is left to go wrong doubtless will. I was getting tired and felt an incredible unquenchable thirst. With so far yet to go I kept looking behind me for the approach of the competition.

Running in the dark down the third peak I suddenly realized I was running next to a rushing stream. Not being able to see any of my surroundings, having no idea from where this water came, I quickly waded in and drank my fill. Drinking again five seconds later I kept repeating in my head, “I’m totally getting Giardia right now. I’m totally getting Giardia right now.” But I knew that I could not finish the race with any efficiency if I did not drink that water. So I went for it, Giardia be damned.

The rest of the race passed quickly. The trail leveled out and became smoother, and I ran fast along the contours of the mountains in the dark, steadily descending back into the town. As I reached the paved roads half a kilometer from the finish I took a wrong turn and wasted a desperate two minutes wandering around looking for the right way. But when I found it and ran in to the finish it was all worth it. I had won the race, even set a new course record.

I was warmly received by the race’s spectators. This reception continued for several days after the race. Everyone was happy for me and wanted to hear all about how the race went. I spent the rest of my trip smiling and bowing obsequiously to or with various people at various events. I left a hero, determined not to return ever. With all the positive press I had received, I didn’t want to risk ruining my good name.

But I couldn’t help myself. In August I got the email from Mountain Hardwear: “I know you’re not planning on running Hasetsune again, but you should really think about it.” I could have said no, and at first I meant to. But the idea brought back so many positive memores that by the end of the day I was already making plans for the trip. Like it or not, Japan has a hold on my heart.

Since arriving this year I have spent most of my time on the following:

- Trying to stay awake when it matters – Being wide awake at 4:30 in the morning – Fighting with the morality of eating at the Krispy Kreme right outside my hotel’s lobby – Being confused about the park system. One park is only open between 9:00 and 4:00, while another has a shrine on one end that doesn’t allow running. I have to walk (on the road through the shrine; the road with cars) or they’ll blow a whistle at me. However, you are allowed to run on the other side of the shrine. But where that delineation stands still eludes me.

I have also spent some time productively. The Japan Montrail/Mountain Hardwear team has connected me with local writers for lots of interviews, and I spent the last two afternoons being herded around the city for appearances at stores. This is actually pretty cool, because I get to see the city better than I would otherwise. Though the public transit system in Tokyo is apparently one of the best in the world, there is no way in hell I would be able to navigate it without the help of someone who can understand Japanese characters. The Japanese team provides that in the form of Tomonori, Yohei, Miyuki, Yuji and Hidei, so I have nothing to complain about. I have seen Tokyo.

That means the time has come to see somewhere else. This afternoon we are quitting the city and heading out to the town that hosts Hasetsune, two hours away. The race begins tomorrow at 1:00 pm, and the pressure is mounting. I don’t have anything to do between now and then, which means I’ll be able to complete my pre-race tradition of walking around nervously and sweating a lot. I’ll post an update after the race. But until then – arigato gozaimas! Sayonara.

Red Hot 50k – 2/8/13

By Dakota Jones

I just did it! I am now signed up the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, Europe’s premier 100-mile race. I started the race in 2011 but dropped out shortly after halfway. My season had been long and I was out of condition, both mentally and physically, to run 100 miles around Mont Blanc. In retrospect I should have finished the race, no matter how long that took, but I was miserable and decided to drop out instead. That won’t happen this year. No, in 2013 I will be primed to not only finish UTMB, but to finish well. And to do that I need to start getting into shape early, and I’m going to do that the only way I know how: by running a 50k six months prior. That’s right – the Red Hot 50k.

The Red Hot 50k is just one of a host of early season ultras that have become more popular as the race schedule has become longer. Founded in 2006, the Red Hot runs through some of the most scenic trails just outside of world-renowned Moab, Utah. Nowhere on Earth is quite like Moab. It’s a land of paradoxes: a barren landscape that fosters life; a desert characterised by water. And it’s a land that is always changing – what was once a lifeless desert turned into a mining mecca and then morphed into a mountain biking and jeeping paradise and now is a combination of all those and more. Moab epitomizes outdoor sports with its trails, its unique landscape, its outdoor culture and the endless possibility for adventure provided by the great expanse of wilderness right outside one’s door. In other words, Moab is the perfect place to hold an ultramarathon.

The Red Hot 50k holds a special place in my heart. I grew up in Moab, and though I didn’t start running ultras until I moved to Durango, Colorado at the age of fifteen, my first two races were in Moab. The Red Hot in 2009 was my second-ever ultra, a landmark race for me because I had the experience of one race behind me, but the gusto of a novice in competition. I managed to squeeze out a fifth place behind such legends (in my eyes at least) as Karl Meltzer and Dave Mackey. Since then I have run the race every year except 2012, when I just sort of went climbing instead while all my friends ran the race. I even won the race in 2011. But the results have become less important for me than the experience. The fact that the race is in Moab means I get to go home for the race, something I almost never get to do with the kind of race schedule I have had lately. And the fact that the race is early in the season means that people are more relaxed. Positions aren’t unimportant, surely, but neither is this the uber-competitive UTMB. Everyone – friends, all of us – just goes for a pretty long hard run. It’s about getting into shape and having a good run in the desert more than anything.

The course certainly provides a solid amount of desert viewing. It begins on the Gemini Bridges trail, which takes runners right into the heart of the backcountry. We then take a large loop to the north, ascending an anticline that at its top reveals incredible views of Arches National Park and the Island in the Sky district of Canyonlands National Park. The next section of the trail weaves across the Poison Spider Rim on the Golden Spike trail, providing magnificent views of the Lasal Mountains, the Colorado River and the town of Moab itself. Finally, the course connects into the Poison Spider trail for a fast finish across the mesa and down to the river. The best part comes next: beer. And a party at my house. And perhaps a swim in the river if you haven’t had enough suffering for the day.

When the time comes to run UTMB, I am going to be standing on the start line with clearcut attrition on my mind. But next weekend I’m going to be at the start line of the Red Hot 50k shaking hands and talking to people when the gun goes off and surprises us all. Then I’ll run as hard as I can and just try to get back into the motions of racing after not competing since the Hasetsune Cup in Japan in early October. The sport of ultrarunning is many-faceted, and I try to make the most of each facet. One of those primary facets is to have a good time, so next weekend at the Red Hot, that’s what I’ll be doing. And I won’t be alone. If you get the chance to come out for the race, make sure to stop by and say hello. This is an exciting time to be an ultra runner.

Leadville – 8/20/12

By Dakota Jones

Jay Aldous and His Montrails

That is Jay Aldous, this year’s fifth place finisher at the Leadville Trail 100, only a few minutes after finishing the race. Please note his Montrail Rogue Fly shoes, which he wore for all 100 miles. Jay is a tough guy, being the over-50 world record holder for the 100 mile distance, having run a 13:52:29 at the Desert Solstice Run in Phoenix last December. He continues to crush races on a regular basis, primarily while wearing Rogue Flys, and has no plans to stop soon. When I grow up, I want to be just like Jay.

Wobble Report – 8/5/12

By Dakota Jones

Hardrock took a toll on me. For a week afterwards I thought I was fine, but several attempts at big days of running and climbing batted me down, and I was relegated to a week at home on the couch. The rest did me good, and by the time I came up to Salt Lake I was excited to race again, so I decided to sign up for the Wobble.

The Wasatch Wobble, of course, is the premier event at the Outdoor Retailer tradeshow held every summer in Salt Lake. Though just a 5k, it features some of the most difficult terrain anywhere. And by ‘anywhere’, I mean in the immediate area. I had a special stake in the Wobble this year, as I was named in the course literature as the official ‘Course Marker’, meaning the quality of the run was up to me. With this weighing on me, I went up to the run area with Montrail athlete guy Byron Pittam the evening before the race to figure out, measure and mark the course. Lacking a GPS or wheel or any other kind of measuring device, we instead used a technique called “estimation”, wherein we winged it and hoped for the best. Two hours and a few dead ends later we had what probably would have been a 1.5 mile course, which we called good and promptly went to dinner. The Wobble was on.

At 5:30 am the next morning I got to the course, ran it to make sure the markers were good and added another mile or so. From the top of the first hill I saw two buses pull up and dump out several thousand people (“estimation”), and this put the terror of disaster into me. Suddenly I had proof that A LOT of people were relying on me for an enjoyable run, and I had made almost no effort to do them justice. All at once I understood every race director I have ever talked to, and the terrible weight of responsibility that sits on their shoulders for months before a race. In that one moment I became an adult.

Fortunately, all the adults who had showed up for the run were doing their best to be children. The theme was “Keep It Wild” and the costumes ranged from Byron’s tarzan suit to a guy in a turkey suit to Max King just wearing his three-year-old son’s halloween costume on his head. I lined up with everyone and when the gun went off  I sprinted onto the course. Right off the bat a guy in snowboard boots with way too much chest showing dashed ahead and took the lead. Four kittens locked arms and started throwing elbows. Krissy Moehl had forgotten a costume, but she made up for it by beating people with sticks. Byron wasn’t even running, but kept jumping out of the bushes and biting people anyway. I tried to keep up, but too many underhanded attacks from all sides put me out of competition early. I instead just did my best to get to the finish. And the winner? A cheetah. From the zoo, I believe.

All in all, the Wobble went off splendidly. Nobody died this year, and crowd participation was at an all time high. The awards were handed out by Wilbur the Weptile, and everyone in the crowd was psyched to get shwag from our sponsors, like (plug alert) Drymax socks, Jetboil and Princeton Tec. We were even voted second best “footrace-associated-with-OR”, meaning we should be able to get a little more funding next year for medical purposes. If you’re interested in coming out for the next Wobble, we’ll be holding it in January at the Outdoor Retailer Winter Market at 1:00 am at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon. See you there!

Life After Hardrock – 7/19/12

By Dakota Jones

As someone who has managed to make a career out of running around mountains, longevity is crucial. Though I know this career won’t last forever, I at least want to make sure that the inevitable end is on my own terms, and I’m not forced out of competition by my inability to compete any longer. That latter scenario can most often happen through physical or mental burnout. Given my age and lack of injuries, at the immediate time mental burnout is more of a worry, and I protect against it militantly. Fortunately I don’t have any worries right now about burning out – in fact I’m more psyched the ever –  but like in a race where I eat the most when I feel good to prevent bonking, just so do I need to stoke the fire most when I’m psyched on mountains. That way I can maintain the stoke indefinitely. Everything is perfect right now, from the weather to my fitness to the sport, so I’m going for it full speed ahead. Here is a breakdown of my immediate plans:

  • Bike a long way
  • Climb several big peaks (at once), in a state with fewer than one million people
  • Step up my technical climbing abilities.
  • Networking, baby
  • Maintain online credibility (not likely)
  • Grow a beard (really not likely)
  • Read some good books
  • Travel to a foreign land and learn a foreign language

As you can see, I have a lot on my plate right now. And I can’t wait! This is the time to go big and accomplish all those goals that have been laying dormant for months. Having completed Hardrock, I have if anything experienced a surge of enthusiasm for mountain sports. But, once again, by tempering the passion I can prolong it. So I’m going to take a short break from strictly running, focusing instead on bicycling and climbing. In this way, by the time I need to train again for fall racing, the stoke will be there ready to go.

Interestingly, the San Juans seem to have lessened their grip on my heart. They are the mountains in Colorado that introduced me to ultrarunning and have harbored my passion for the past two summers while I trained for Hardrock. The time I have spent running and hiking through that mountain range is unequaled in both time and quality anywhere. Yet the time has come to move to the next goal, and the San Juans just can’t support that new goal. I want to climb big peaks, and while the San Juans are by no means small, their quality of rock is too poor to make them worthwhile. Many an adventure can be had in their depths, but for real alpine climbing I need to look elsewhere. So I’m turning to the Tetons for now.  They offer much of what the San Juans have given me – vast landscapes of pristine beauty and extreme topography – but with the added bonus of high quality rock. On their slopes I can take my running fitness to technical climbing and start to expand my boundaries as an athlete. The lines separating each sport are starting to blur, and I intend to be at the forefront of that movement.

The most important thing in the world is to love what you do. As someone who has managed to make a career out of running around mountains, that has the potential to be a problem. But for now I couldn’t be happier, and I see no reason why this should change. Wild places have a healing power that equally builds us up as it breaks us down. Longevity lies in understanding that balance.

Interview with Dakota Jones, 2012 Transvulcania Champion – 5/14/12

iRunFar Race Report

Dakota Jones won the 2012 Transvulcania Ultramarathon in an upset over favorite Kilian Jornet. In the men’s race, practically the whole field led at the first checkpoint, the little village of Los Canarios on the southern end of La Palma. In reality, Dakota Jones came first through that initial checkpoint, setting the stage for what would be a world-class performance. In the rest of the race, Dakota was either the leader or within spitting distance of him. Continue reading.

2012 Transvulcania Ultramarathon trailer

In the following interview, he discusses how his race played out against Kilian and Andy Symonds, what happened with Kilian fainting after the race, what he thinks of the European race hype now that he’s been the center of attention, and whether he plans to alter his season’s racing schedule to compete in the Skyrunner World Series. Read the Interview Transcript here.

A Race Report of Much Depth and Consideration – 5/14/12

By Dakota Jones

I don’t usually write race reports that delve into the actual events of a race, primarily because that’s what everyone else does and I think that’s boring. But this time I think the story of the race itself is exciting enough to tell. So bear with me.

The race started at the beach with enough energy to power Denver International Airport for at least three days. I did my best to lay low and immediately got swept up by the announcer, Depa, who asked me to say a few words en espanol (buenos dias, La Palma!) Then the race started and we all ran up the hill like it was the state cross country meet, elbowing and shoving each other to get ahead. I ended up at front and managed to stay there all the way….well, to the end actually, but that’s not the point. The course goes up and over a high point at 2000 meters, then runs along the crest of the island before launching up again to the top of the caldera at 2400 meters. And when I say caldera, I mean volcano. Like, magma and holes into the earth and great hellfire spewing forth from the mountainside. And while maybe we didn’t see any of those things on our run, we still saw some pretty cool stuff. The course was absolutely incredible, taking us along the spine of the island and over the top of its highest point, El Roque de Los Muchachos, which teeters ominously on the edge of a sheer cliff of….volcanic rock probably. From there you can see basically the entire island, as well as several other islands, lots of water, two or three towns and apparently a lot of stars, judging by the giant telescopes and whatnot. In short, the course was really cool.

I ran in front with Kilian all the way over the top of the caldera and then most of the way back down. From the Roque at about 50km, the course descends more than 7000 feet until your shoes are basically in the ocean. If you haven’t run 7000 feet downhill lately, there’s no need – I can tell you what it’s like. It’s like, hard. You know what I mean? It kind of hurts. But me and K-dog powered down the damn thing, slipping and sliding and cutting a tight switchback here and there because that’s what you do in Europe, and eventually we reached an aid station. Sweet, fill up on water. Good to go. But I looked back and who did I see charging in behind us but Andy Symonds – I didn’t even know this guy. What’s his deal? Apparently his deal is downhillin’, if I may, and he immediately launched ahead like somebody was chasing him, which makes sense because suddenly somebody was chasing him – Kilian. I guess captain ski-mo can’t stand the idea of running behind anyone English and so he took off into the distance as well. I was left alone, feeling used and unwanted.

In retrospect, those guys must have burned themselves out in a fit of enthusiasm. I just kept plodding along at my own pace, down down down to the ocean which just didn’t seem to be getting any closer, and all of a sudden they came back into view. Then, in a move that I didn’t trust whatsoever, Kilian dropped off of Andy’s pace and let me catch up, then stepped aside to let me pass. I asked if he was okay and was chagrined to learn that, “yes, yes” he was okay. I kept running downhill and soon realized I was catching Andy too. When I finally passed him he said, “second wind?” and I said, “Well, according to Plato’s theory of forms, if ultrarunning were to represent the perfect form of insanity ….” and so on in that vein until he became so sick of my late-race lunacy that I believe he leapt into the ocean for a reprieve. But somehow we still came into the final aid station, Tazacorte, together.

By the way, my intention in italicizing all the Spanish words is for the people reading this to say it with a certain Spanish flair, as if you’re the beautiful Spanish woman in the soap opera wearing the red dress who is denouncing your husband for cheating on her with….Tazacorte. So flip your hair around and kind of lisp the “z”.

Tazacorte had all the energy of the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. I don’t know if the people of La Palma love running or if they just love yelling, but they are really effective at combining the two for Transvulcania, and being a part of that is really fun. From Tazacorte we ran up a mostly flat road for nearly a mile before turning onto a cobblestone path and climbing the final thousand feet up to the finish. We were down at sea level and in a depression in the land that held the heat and humidity still and calm, baking us like very tired little muffins. To my surprise I managed to pull ahead of Andy on the road and then, even more incredible, put time on him on the climb. My legs were so tired that I hardly tried to run the final climb, but my hiking legs managed to be strong enough to get to the top of the hill with Andy still out of sight. And the rest was a blur – the final road, my police escort, and the generally increasing size and volume of the crowds until, at the actual finish line, drenched in sweat, exhausted and utterly done for, I broke the tape and walked into the waiting arms of the crowd.

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