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Bryon Powell and Meghan M. Hicks November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 0

Mile-High Motivation - Page 3

Just three months after giving birth to Sophia, Africa was racing again. Her after-pregnancy debut was the 2009 Moab Red Hot 33K, where she took second place. Africa says her mind was ready to run sooner than her body, and believes she might have "done too much, too soon" after giving birth, attributing a lingering hamstring issue to that post-partum running.

Sophia is now two-and-a-half years old, and fills the Africas' life to its joyful brim. Being a mother isn't hurting Africa's race performances any. She had a standout season in 2010 that culminated with victory at the Wasatch 100.

As a wife and mother, much about Africa's life has changed since those anything-goes days of her early 20s. One thing that hasn't and probably won't, though, is the freedom that inspires her to get out and get after it. When Africa took that Outward Bound pack off and lightened her load long ago, little did she know she was picking up a life path of freedom. "When I'm trail running, I forget everything else and I'm just running, just present."

Africa's Advice for Keeping Things Light

  • "Explore a new trail," says Africa. Time spent in new places breaks the mold of training routines and makes a trail run feel fresh.
  • Trail run with other people so, according to Africa, you can "go out and laugh a lot."
  • Take time to enjoy beautiful places. Good views remind Africa of why she's a trail runner. One of her favorite places to run is in Colorado's spectacular Indian Peaks Wilderness.

Dakota Jones' Challenge

When Dakota Jones walks into a Monday morning class at Colorado State University, most of his classmates would never guess how the English major spent his weekend, which likely involved running 20 to 30 or more miles up into the Front Range "for fun."

Well, in Jones' case, those runs aren't always for fun. Sure, like many trail runners, Jones enjoys "being in the mountains and wild places, the time alone and the solitude." However, he also goes into the mountains to challenge himself. "I want to be the best I can be," he says. "To do that, I have to choose objectives to test myself. I like to be outdoors, especially in the mountains. When I go there, whether it's to alpine climb or run, I can test myself."

For Jones, who won last year's San Juan Solstice 50, coming with 13 minutes of breaking Matt Carpenter's "untouchable" record of 7:59, and placed fourth at the stacked North Face Endurance Challenge Championships 50-miler, the purpose of taking on any challenge is "to get to a point where I don't know what's possible. I want to reach that point and keep going. I want to know what I'm capable of and, maybe, what I'm not capable of." He continues, "If I don't ever get to that point, then I'll never know. I'll have done nothing. I'll just have done a mediocre job. I want to do the best I can."

Jones recognizes that even within his beloved mountains, "there are different avenues to test myself on, to play out this personal challenge. For example, alpine climbing offers the same things that draw me to ultras. Now that I've had some success in ultrarunning, I really want to transfer my skills into climbing."

The fact that trail ultramarathons are Jones's current self-testing grounds is due, in large part, to happenstance. During a fateful eighth grade football practice, he and his teammates had to run two miles to the top of his hometown of Moab, Utah's "dump hill" and back. He beat all of his teammates and realized, "I'm way better at running than football!" Jones the Runner was born.

By 2008, he had moved to Durango, Colorado, where he interviewed Hardrock 100 race director Dale Garland for a journalism class. Jones quickly offered to volunteer at the race. That July, he and his father helped to man the Engineer Pass aid station, where he saw Kyle Skaggs come through in an "unheard of time" en route to a massive course record. The young runner was blown away.



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