It’s an event from Backcountry Experience so big it needed a larger venue.
Colorado trail running stars Joe Grant of Gold Hill and Dakota Jones of Durango are set to share their stories of racing and running to the community from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Ska Brewing Co.
The two ultrarunners have combined for five finishes of the Hardrock Hundred Endurance Run in Silverton with top-five finishes among the men each time. Jones placed second in 2011 and third in 2012, while Grant was second in 2012, third in 2017 and sixth overall and fifth among men in 2011.
“We’re proud to host these adventurers here presenting to the Durango community,” Backcountry Experience marketing coordinator Brandon Mathis said. “Of course, Jones has roots here, and Grant is a Colorado legend. This is an outdoor town. There is an absolute admiration for the kinds of things that Joe and Dakota are doing. Local businesses like Ska Brewing and Tailwind Nutrition supporting this displays that.”
While Grant and Jones are famous for some of their big performances in ultramarathons around the globe, they’ve gained notoriety for recent work that doesn’t have a start or finish line. In 2016, Grant famously climbed all of Colorado’s fourteeners in a little more than 31 days by connecting all of them while biking to each trailhead. He set a new record in the process. During Thursday night’s presentation, Grant will provide a screening of the film, “The Middle Way,” that chronicles his self-powered fourteener record and the transformative journey he underwent in the process. The film is produced by Dean Leslie of Wandering Fever.
Grant also set a fastest-known time for an unsupported run of the Nolan’s 14 in the Sawatch Range in 2018. His time of 49 hours, 38 minutes broke the previous unsupported record by more than four hours on a project that features 14 14,000-foot peaks across 80 miles with 44,000 feet of elevation gain.
Jones, in his return from an injury that derailed his 2017 race season, partnered with the nonprofit environmental organization Protect Our Winters and has been an activist in the fight against climate change. Last summer, he rode a bicycle from Silverton to Manitou Springs to the start of the Pikes Peak Marathon. He won the race, setting a new downhill record in the process. He then biked all the way back to Silverton.
“Basically, we know climate change is happening,” Jones said. “We know that it is human-caused. We’re not trying to point fingers. The goal is to try to communicate about solutions. Having the outdoor industry communicate about these solutions is a really effective way to try to make it hit home.”
Jones has been building back up toward longer-distance races and finished ninth in the Behind the Rocks Ultra 50-kilometer race March 23 in Moab before his seventh-place result at the Lake Sonoma 50 Miler in California just last Saturday. He plans to run the Wasatch 100 in Utah in September.
The two athletes will have plenty to chat about with the running community. Mathis said there are plans for more trail-running projects hosted by Backcountry Experience with plans to bring in other famed runners at upcoming events.
“Durango is many things, and one is it is a trail town,” Mathis said. “We’re a shinning example of what is possible. Durango is synonymous with all of the trails we have, all the singletrack in city limits, the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide trail. We’re blessed with these resources. Often, we can commute to work if we want – all on singletrack. That’s really something. We’re fortunate. Groups like Trails 2000 and the support they get also shows the appreciation and value put on these kinds of resources. The singletrack here brings people from all over the world. It is a viable commodity. These kinds of events are just another way to celebrate it.”