This weekend, I had the treat to crew and pace a friend for 20 miles at the Javelina Jundred 100 Mile race. There’s not much in the world that is more wonderful than seeing a friend’s hard work pay off and seeing them push through the tough moments, all while watching hundreds of other runners do the same.
Javelina is an incredibly unique race. Athletes running the 100-miler do five ~20-mile loops. Due to this looped-style course, the start/finish line becomes a PARTY and it is a really easy-to-crew race since crew members never have to leave their location. Another perk of this looped-style race is that you get to see every single runner pass through, after every loop, and eventually, see every finisher go by in their final moments of the race. It is a beautiful scene!
I kept a close eye on the pros during this race, because I was genuinely curious about their strategies, and who doesn’t love to watch those extremely talented runners cruise on by making 100 miles look easy?! What I saw made me smile, a LOT. I think we have big lessons to learn from the two eventual winners: Devon Yanko for the women’s field, and Dakota Jones for the men’s field.
Devon Yanko was easily my favorite runner to watch the entire day. She looked like she was in her element… she looked like she was having the most FUN. In between one of her loops, while in the lead pack for the women, I watched her come in, pass through the timing mat, and take a moment to dance with some of the volunteers while they sponged ice water on her. That’s right, she stopped running and started DANCING in between her loops, despite being in the lead pack. The joy was contagious! Devon eventually took the lead, and won, running a Master’s course record time in 14:36. Devon is someone who has overcome a lot, once being told that she is “too old” to be sponsored and was diagnosed with Lupus just 3 weeks before this race. Seeing her joy at this race was beautiful.
Dakota Jones was another fun runner to watch. From what I saw, Dakota was the only professional runner who ran in a “costume” – a pair of cat ears attached to his hat and whiskers painted on his face. Costumes are encouraged at Javelina, but it’s rare to see the pros in one, understandably so - costumes can be difficult to run in and adds another worry that the pros don’t need. Dakota’s costume was simple, but to me, it showed that he was there to have a good time. Also, in a blog post written by another professional runner who eventually DNF’d at Javelina, I read that Dakota stopped running, and walked with the runner to make sure he was okay. At this point, Dakota was taking over the lead and still took time out of his race to check on a friend. Despite this little break in the run, Dakota eventually set a new course record, finishing the 100 miles in 12:58.
These two ran a really smart race, but more importantly, genuinely looked like they were having a good time and never seemed to take themselves too seriously – cat ears and dance moves aplenty! If I learned anything from this experience, it’s that it’s a really darn good thing to have fun at these events, even if you are chasing the podium, golden ticket, PR, or finish line. You’ll experience every emotion at these events, so let joy and kindness be the leading ones when you can.