[Author’s Note: This is the seventh of an eight-part series in AJW’s Taproom called Race Director Chronicles, where we profile the unsung heroes who make our sport’s racing possible.]
Libby Jones is the proprietor of and race director for The Energetic Joe, which produces six races yearly within the Dallas-Fort Price metroplex of Texas. The Energetic Joe, which is targeted on the demographic of “the typical joe” who will get energetic, was based in 2010. The Energetic Joe has a powerful deal with inclusivity and bringing variety to race beginning strains. Notably, The Energetic Joe is a longstanding sponsor of the Western States 100.
I just lately sat down with Libby to speak about her work and races.
Andy Jones-Wilkins: How lengthy have you ever been directing extremely/path operating occasions?
Libby Jones: I’ve been race directing for 17 years and began after I was simply 26 years outdated, however these have been all street races to start with. I began path operating myself in 2011, and in 2014, I made a decision I wished to create a 100 miler at this lovely path system in Dallas. It was the primary 100 miler in North Texas and after two years of tremendously unfortunate torrential rain, I used to be struck with extra unhealthy luck – the venue got here underneath a property dispute by a number of landowners solely six weeks earlier than the race.
I scrambled to discover a course elsewhere that I might love and that’s the way it turned the Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run, which has a 100 miler, 100 kilometer, 50k, 25k, and 5 miler. I nonetheless produce street races, and I’ve just a few different path races too, however Dino Valley is my signature occasion in path operating.
AJW: What’s the most satisfying side of your work as a race director?
Jones: In fact I wish to say the grins, the tears, and the pleasure of the runners on the end line after they obtain some aim that I helped create the chance for them to pursue. However for me, I additionally do a number of work within the area of inclusivity, variety, and fairness, and it feels fantastic listening to from folks that the vibe at my races is all they hoped it may very well be. That they really feel secure. That they really feel like everybody really desires them there. The path operating group as an entire is all about that, however we nonetheless have a number of underrepresented teams within the path world who wish to really feel just like the house was created for them.
AJW: What makes operating in Texas and the encompassing areas so distinctive and particular?
Jones: Folks don’t anticipate us to have the wonder and vertical achieve that we have now at a few of our trails right here. I get shocked reactions every year since so many go to from out of state for the Dinosaur Valley races. “Texas is meant to be flat.” They think about prairie and ranch land. As an alternative, like I say on the web site, the course is rolling hills, rocks, roots, and all collectively about 9,000 ft of elevation achieve within the 100 miler!
We even have a big ultrarunning group, which I feel on the nationwide degree nonetheless will get neglected rather a lot. There are a number of eyes on how massive California and the U.S. Pacific Northwest are in ultrarunning and path operating, however there’s a lot taking place right here. Dinosaur Valley wouldn’t be 600 runners if it wasn’t — and there are various Texas races placed on by many race producers, and runners present up!
AJW: What are the three greatest challenges you face as a race director?
Jones: I feel each race director ought to embody of their record to reply the query of “expectation administration.” I talk rather a lot by way of the race web sites, and I exploit our social media channels extensively. For Dinosaur Valley, I produce a 27-page runner guide with each diagram, map, and piece of data I can consider in a single place. I’m massive on private duty for runners to know what they’re entering into. I feel as ultramarathon athletes, we’re actually good at strategizing, planning, and having a plan B/C/D/E when issues go awry, however that begins with figuring out what to anticipate while you arrive on the race.
Misogyny and bigotry is one other massive problem for me particularly. I’m in a really conservative state, producing occasions the place I’m extremely welcoming to various faces and experiences that may really feel uncomfortable for some individuals. Numerous ultramarathons are produced by males with males in thoughts simply naturally, as a result of that’s their expertise. In the meantime, final yr’s Dinosaur Valley 100 Mile finishers have been 45% feminine, the 100k was 37% feminine, and the 50k was 42% feminine. In a world the place most ultramarathons are about 20% feminine illustration, this will create a really completely different really feel at a race. I do encounter a number of sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic feedback, critiques, and pushback regularly, however I really feel strongly in regards to the optimistic actions I take to deliver underrepresented teams to the beginning line!
Lastly, I’d say the climate, after all! Through the years, I’ve handled hail, thunderstorms, flooding, drought situations, report warmth — we hit 90 levels Fahrenheit in November for the 2017 Dino Valley — and twister watches. You do the perfect you’ll be able to, however in the end that’s one factor that’s simply out of our management!
AJW: What adjustments have you ever seen within the sport because you started directing occasions? Optimistic? Unfavourable? Each?
Jones: On the optimistic aspect, there’s a lot extra consciousness of path operating and of ultrarunning. Additionally, I used to be within the street world after we have been nonetheless making an attempt to get street half marathons to hit 50% feminine. And now we have now extra girls exhibiting up on trails, and it’s nice to see that progress.
On the detrimental aspect, I’m uncomfortable with the elevated giant company possession that firms like UTMB are bringing to race manufacturing. I really feel like I watched this with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Operating Collection on the street race directing aspect. And I’ve had an organization are available and attempt to do my course at my venue six weeks earlier than one in every of my street races. It appears like your laborious work is swiped out from underneath you. I additionally don’t need us to lose the essence of the game, which is about group and that non-public contact. I additionally wrestle to really feel that the quantity of runners I’m seeing put onto some singletrack path by the most important company races will be good for that space’s trails and ecosystem.
AJW: What are you trying ahead to most within the 2023 t0 2024 occasion season?
Jones: Fingers crossed, I’m hoping that the Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run will grow to be a qualifying race for the Western States 100. I fell in love with the Western States 100 again in 2012 after I volunteered in a single day in a wetsuit at Rucky Chucky, waist deep all night time within the American River. So I bought to see a excessive proportion of the runners that yr, and I felt so impressed. My firm, The Energetic Joe, got here on as a Western States 100 sponsor in 2014, and I’ve now traveled from Dallas to attend the race for 9 years. I’m additionally fortunate sufficient to get to be one of many individuals onstage yr after yr on the lottery pulling names. So it could be a dream for the extremely I created and that I like to get to be a qualifier. The race has grown from 200 in all distances years in the past to now 600 anticipated this yr. We thought we have been going to hit our aim final yr, however we had unusually chilly temperatures with in a single day being under freezing, and it actually harm our finishers price! Even when we meet the variety of finishers we want, we received’t know till subsequent September, however I’m optimistic!
AJW’s Beer of the Week
This week’s Beer of the Week comes from Lakewood Brewing Firm in Dallas, Texas. Lakewood’s signature beer, The Temptress, a silky clean Imperial Milk Stout, is a scrumptious chocolate and caramel taste bomb that’s finest loved at a leisurely tempo on a cold, late fall night within the Texas Hill Nation.
Name for Feedback
You already know what to do within the feedback part! Depart your feedback about your experiences with Libby Jones, The Energetic Joe, and Jones’ races.