News & Updates

25 March 2023 • Trail Running

Jones seeks to maintain hot streak in pursuit of national honours

Daniel Jones will be targeting another win at the New Zealand Short Course Trail Running Championships in Dunedin on Sunday after enjoying a hot streak of success.

Endurance running star Daniel Jones hopes to his translate his red hot form into glory at the New Zealand Short Course Trail Running Championships, which feature as part of the 3 Peaks Plus 1 Mountain Race in Dunedin on Sunday.

Last year, Daniel claimed two victories (in January and December) at the Kepler Challenge, an impressive victory in the 100km Lake Sonoma race in the US and finished top of the podium at both Auckland Marathons (in January and October) and the Queenstown Marathon.

More recently the 32-year-old Wellington-based athlete produced, arguably, the performance of his career by winning the 102km Tarawera Ultramarathon – clocking a race record time of 7:27:55.

And next up he makes his 3 Peaks Plus 1 debut, relishing his latest endurance examination over the 55km distance.

“My main goal for the season is the Western States 100 mile, so I’ll be using 3 Peaks as a nice carrot as part of my build up,” he says.

“After Tarawera I gave my body a couple of weeks to rest up and I’ve been back training for about four to five weeks so I’m using New Zealand Trail Running champs as a good opportunity to kick-start things.

Daniel acknowledges the elevation gain of more than 2000m up the three peaks of Flagstaff, Swampy and Mt Cargill is significant and he has not tapered for this race as he looks to steps up his preparations for the Western States 100 – the world’s oldest and most prestigious 100-mile race.

However, the 2021 New Zealand marathon champion is ready to give his best and put in a quality performance on Sunday.

“It will be nice to head overseas for the big trail races with the title of New Zealand champion, if I can get it. I know it is not as well recognised as a national title on the track, road or cross country but it is still a big deal.”

Jones, who boasts a marathon PB of 2:16:15 set at the 2019 Gold Coast Marathon, opted to focus more on trail and ultra-running after watching YouTube videos while stranded in Kenya during the early stages of the pandemic in 2020.

It has not been a decision he has regretted as the Wellington Scottish athlete has built up a growing reputation on the trails, which seems to perfectly suit his running skillset.

“I think coming from a marathon background I have a decent pace compared to some other trail runners and I have a big engine honed from my background in New Zealand hunting and walking the hills,” he explains.

“I did multisport for a few years, running five or six hours a day stage racing in China – and I think over time you start to build up a big endurance base I don’t have heaps of gears, I think my marathon PB is just about double my half marathon PB (1:07:11). I have one speed, and just go for it!”

Combining working as a part-time coach and working for Sharesies the online investment platform allows him to train between 180-230km per week at a peak.

Self-coached he enjoys running the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park – which is located close to his home in South Karori – while the Mount Climie track in the Hutt Valley – which comprises around 600/700m of elevation per lap is another favourite.

And while this weekend is an important event, it should not be lost that running the Western States 100 – remains the key goal for his year. New Zealand has a rich race history in the event after Ruth Croft won the women’s race at the 2022 edition and Dan takes a lot of inspiration from the West Coast athlete.

“Seeing Ruth finish second in 2021 and come back and win in 2022 was huge for New Zealand Trail Running. She’s such an awesome person as well. Coming from small town New Zealand to see her have a crack at top races has been really cool.”

Ruth does not plan to defend her title at the Western States 100 – which takes place in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains on June 24-25 – but Daniel will feature alongside the likes of fellow Kiwi Scotty Hawker and Nancy Jiang, who won the women’s race at the Tarawera Ultramarathon last month.

Taking a diligent approach to training he will put a big emphasis on vertical training and will spend time in the sauna to aid heat acclimation – with temperatures expected to soar to between 38-40C on race day in California.

So what does he hope to achieve on the day at Western States?

“To have a top five finish would be awesome, a podium even better but I’d be happy with a top ten.”

By Steve Landells

***Follow the results of the New Zealand Short Course Trail Running Championships, which feature as part of the 3 Peaks Mountain Race here