The free-spirited 22-year-old is focused on making an impact in his sport.
Fresh off a night camping on a high mountain pass, Dakota Jones is rumpled, relaxed and witty as he sips tea and talks about international travel, the challenges of winter camping and responsibilities of being an upstart race director. The only thing that seems out of place is his hat, which is hipsteresquely askew. When you realize the lanky, easy-going, ultrarunner is only 22, his hat actually makes the most sense.
For a sport in which success typically comes more to grizzled, experienced runners in their 30s and early 40s rather than youthful chargers in their 20s, Jones has shown the ability to push harder, go faster and suffer more than most of his peers out on the trail.
In the process, he’s racked up an impressive list of results and made a name for himself on the international race scene. But for this relative kid, who had his first legal beer a little more than a year ago, it’s just the beginning. He also writes thoughtful, humorous and often introspective blog entries about his mountain experiences. And this month, he’s launching his own race in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains and returning to race in the 103-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) around the Alps, arguably the world’s toughest footrace.
Jones has done it all with a healthy mix of youthful exuberance, tenaciousness grit, a wise-beyond-his-years demeanor and a cool, charismatic vibe that have made him the trail running poster child of the I-can-do-it-myself Millennial Generation.
It’s why he’s called “Young Money.”
“Dakota has a rare combination of two very opposing attributes — being an absolute free spirit who lives for today, and a focused discipline with his approach to fitness, training and his goals,” says Topher Gaylor, president of Mountain Hardwear, one of Jones’ primary sponsors. “His positive attitude and voracious appetite to learn and grow, both as an athlete and as a student of life, make him one sophisticated endurance dude.”