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November 2022-Jason Jackson

Q: Tell me a little bit about yourself. (Where you’re from, what you’re doing now…etc)

A: I grew up in Wyoming, quite literally, to an awkward height. My wife Rita and I went to college in Rapid City. I’m currently a sponsored snowboarder and ultrarunner, but my sponsor likes me to write software for them during the week. We have a cat named Rocky, and he is a punk, but we love him anyway.

Q: How long have you been running and how did you get started?

A: I started running a little over a decade ago. I read Born to Run and something clicked in my head. A runner friend from college gave me some advice on getting started. It was slow progress at first but I am happy I stuck with it. I was also getting healthy in general and dropped quite a lot of weight during that time.

Q: Would you rather run with a group or alone?

A: I really enjoy both. We’re all so lucky to have such a great running community in this area. I hope new runners know to take advantage of that. I wish I had done so a lot more a lot earlier in my running journey.

Q: Do you prefer roads or trails?  

A: Trails for sure. For one, I am slow but persistent so long trail runs suit me better. But I’m also happier in nature and particularly in the mountains. I feel tremendous gratitude to all the people that work so hard to give us the great trail systems we have in the Black Hills.

Q: What is your favorite distance or race?

A:  50k is a great ultra distance. It isn’t quite as demanding as some of the longer distances, and so you can kinda kick back and really enjoy it more… half marathon is also a really fun distance. I was so scared of my first half and now I really love that distance!

Q: How do you stay motivated when you don’t want to run?

A: I try to think about how much I am going to enjoy the run, and how I will be happy after the run. The thing about running is that I actually like doing it!

Q: If I didn’t run I’d ………..

A: I’d probably be big into nunchucks. Or chucking nuns. One of those two. I’ve also considered starting a cat running apparel company. That’s clothing for humans with cats printed on them, not running clothes for cats. Cats aren’t going to put up with that. But I could probably do that and also run, so that’s a terrible answer. I’ll go back to the nunchucks answer. Nuns probably don’t want to be chucked.

Q: What do you find to be the most rewarding thing about running?

A: Long distances in particular are very rewarding for me. Conquering distances that seemed absurd to me only a few years ago have given me a lot more confidence, and these distances also teach me humility. I have clear memories of times when I have almost broken down and quit, then regrouped and finished. Those are very precious to me. I also get a lot of joy seeing friends succeed in running. And really, complete strangers too. 

Q: What is your favorite running memory?

A:  This one is definitely a top one: In August a group of us ran The Black Hills 50k course at night, to support Nate so he could claim the 50k he missed in June. Who does that?! Well, we did. We had like 10 people on trail the whole way, support crew, and rattlesnakes. We started at Dalton at 8pm and had breakfast at the Sturgis Park. 

Q: What’s the most valuable lesson you have learned from running?

A: Don’t give up. 

The journey is the destination. 

Also… whatever is going on during a particular window of time during a long run (or life?) will absolutely change. If you’re in the pain cave just keep chipping away because in 30 minutes you might be making the running memory of your life. That’s a true story.

Q: What are your running goals for the future?

A: I have a 100k, my first, in February, in Arizona. I’d like to do a 100 miler next year as well but haven’t chosen a race. I want to keep helping to build our running community, and in particular our ultra and trail running. I hope I can encourage and help others start and succeed.

Q: Who inspires you most?       

A: I have many friends and family that inspire me. When I see a friend or stranger do something kind for no reason other than kindness that inspires me to try to be a better person. 

My brother-in-law Tom made some big life changes, put in some serious hard work, and came in 4th in his age group at The Bighorn 52. That was pretty inspiring.

Q: What advice do you have for new runners?

A: Slow down. Seriously. Running isn’t what we were taught in gym class. Slow down so you can comfortably run and hold a mild conversation, or get a watch with heart rate and stay in Zone 2. Also, I want new runners to know we’re all cheering for them when we see them out running. I wish it was more socially accepted to give total strangers high fives!