Runners Of Vermont is an ongoing series here at the VTRunCo where we get to meet and start to get to know some of the amazing people that call Vermont home and share our affinity for running. So, sit back and enjoy. The people profiled here are the main reason Vermont is such a great place to live and run. Also, if you know someone that lives and runs in Vermont who you think should be profiled here… Let us know. We’d love to be introduced and give them the opportunity to share their perspective on Vermont’s running scene.

 

Name: Mark Jones
Occupation: Sodexo Supervisor
Current Location: Milton, VT
Hometown/Birthplace: Allentown, PA
Facebook: Mark Jones
Instagram: @woodpile_jones

 

How did you first get involved in running and what was it that kept you coming back? Did you develop your habit easily, or was it something you had to work at?

​I first got into running on the track team in high school, there were woman on the team so I thought it was a good way to start dating. I was never good, but good enough to make standards to join the Marines. Fast forward to 2006, I was in a very bad state, hungover, and needed a desperate life change. Coincidentally, a half marathon flyer landed on my doorstep and decided to do it, not fully even knowing what I was getting myself into.

Racing… Did you start racing right from the beginning? What has been your favorite or best racing experience… Your worst… Why? ​

I started truly racing once I realized winning was not impossible and placing in every race was pretty common. In 2010, I decided to go all in and really start pushing my limits. I’ve had so many highs and lows. Usually, my lows are from inexperience, lack of specific training, or just nutritional experimentation, but I have had so many trial and errors that I am now pretty much dialed in on everything from a 5k all the way to a 150mile ultra or 48+ hr race. Stand out low… Voluntarily withdrawing from an event called GoRuck Selection. I was 36hrs into a 48hr this event and I decided to opt out. This event has a less than 2% finish rate. Stand out high… Winning World’s Toughest Mudder as a Team in 2014 during a sandstorm.

Do you have a favorite distance…Why? ​

Road running… Marathon. Trail running… 50 miles. Obstacle racing… 24hrs. Triathlon… Olympic. Adventure Racing… Unknown distance is the BEST!

Any pre-race rituals or superstitions? ​

Bagel, banana, and peanut butter are my daily pre-workout food preference. Of course, with black coffee. Additional, “the rule of 3”

Non-racing experiences… Besides racing and training, what are some other ways you enjoy running, or running has improved your life? Your favorite non-racing experience… Your worst?​

Running has kept me out of trouble, forced me to lose weight, provided a great new group of new friends, and opened up the door to travel and adventure all over the world. It has also allowed me to hold a spot on the All National Guard Marathon Team and Team USA Military Pentathlon. Overall, new experiences in life have paved the way towards a fulfilled future. My favorite non-racing experience has to be graduating boot camp. This is the day my new life truly began. My worst has to be losing many of my Marine Brothers during the invasion of Iraq.

Running In Vermont… What do you love about it? What do you wish was different?​

I make the best out of everywhere I am. Vermont is not necessarily special to me, but I enjoy where I live. There is just enough in my vicinity that I do not have to travel. I can just step outside and go. The ice is sketchy in the winter and you are forced to expand your training in order to keep at it. I don’t wish for change, I like evolving to the environment, you will never beat it, but you can always enhance what you know. “The mountains always win.”

Do you have a favorite route/trail here in Vermont? This doesn’t have to be a route you run regularly. We’re looking for something you think is special and think other people should experience.​

I love doing time trials up Camels Hump from time to time. I’ll do a route that goes all the way up and down as fast as possible. Then I have a “secret” water hole that I cool down in that no one ever goes in (that I have seen) Its pretty special.

During a typical New England winter what do you do to stay in shape, keep motivated, and have fun? Do you continue to run? Do you engage in any other activities?​

I play outside, of course! Strength training and snow shoe running is fun to me. Of course I still run, but I also like to cross country ski when I can. I’m open to everything from ice/rock climbing, paddle boarding, reading, biking, and really anything I can/have time to do. No limitations.

Can you provide some advice for running during the cooler months then into and through winter?​

Don’t be afraid to carry some additional layers or weight in case you get into trouble. A change of clothes, extra set of gloves, and beanie are always a must. Also, if you carry a camelback, learn to insulate your tube or throw a light jacket over everything so your tube doesn’t freeze.

Do you have a mantra or strategy to get you out the door when you don’t feel like running, through those tough moments in training, or during a long event?​

IF you don’t feel like running, maybe your body needs recovery. Be honest with yourself, if this is not the case, revisit what you are training for or WHY you told yourself you needed to get up and run in the morning. Yes, its freaking cold out, but enjoy the beauty and silence the snowy cold dark morning brings. Make peace with the battle and don’t let it win. During long events, think of your journey as a long Rocky movie, revisit your training montage with all the tough moments you put yourself through and remember, you have already beat them and now its for real, Crush the moment one last time!

Favorite/best piece of running gear you own or wished you owned? ​

My rucksack. Its a gym on my back and a savior when supplies are needed. Anything I set out to do, the ruck will follow with facilitating my success in the journey.

Favorite thing to eat during a long run/race? ​

In the heat… A cold beer. In the cold… Ramen noodles.

Favorite aid station food? ​

Viaduct Ultra (Marathon looped course) I remember this old couple posting what was for every meal halfway through each loop. You passed their volunteer station twice per loop so there was always an option to get hot food during the cold hours. They had everything from soup to grilled cheese. This made the 150mile race a lot more bearable.

Favorite reward (do you do anything to treat yourself… food or other) after a long training cycle/race? ​

Its generic, but pizza and beer is kind of my staple right now. Overall, I always say “eat bad good”

Next season what event or events are you are most looking forward to… Why? ​

2019 is a BIG year. I have Team Assessment, Selection, and am looking to break a Guinness world record of rucking. This is my trifecta of something that has never been done by anyone in the world yet. IT will be a huge accomplishment to finish them all.

What are 2-3 Vermont running events/races that people should check out? ​

Death Race, Killington Ultra Beast, and the Jay Peak Ultra.

What’s the best piece of running or training advice you’ve ever received?​

Use gravity to the best of your abilities.

Do you have any running/training tips or tricks you’d like to share?​

Find me, train with me, and you will learn something new.

Who is a Vermont runner that inspire you… Why?​

Jim Miller, he is a man I met at the Rolling Irish half marathon. We ran a few times and follow each other on Strava. He recently ran a 2:50 marathon in Chicago and came in first in his age group. The man is 60 and used to run in the 2:10’s. Very inspiring!

Anyone out there you want to give a shout out to? Sponsors/Friends/Partners/ Coaches/Etc… Why are they important to you?​

I have had sponsors come and go, but Honey Badger has stuck with me since my beginning and I cannot thank them enough for all the love and support over the years. I do need a shoe and supplement sponsor… Just saying.

Coaches: Dennis Welch, Yancy Culp, and Hunter McIntyre have been great mentors and coaches over the years. More importantly, they are family to me. My closest partner is my girlfriend Ferne who trains hard herself and supports everything I do each and everyday with no complaints.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read this far. Stay tuned for our next installment of Runners Of Vermont. Our goal is to keep posting until we’ve profiled everyone that lives and runs in Vermont! If you know someone that runs and they live in Vermont… Please connect them with us at info@vermontrunningcompany.com.

Train Smart. Run Well. Do Good.