[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 Lively Joe, which produces six races yearly within the Dallas-Fort Price metroplex of Texas. The Lively Joe, which is targeted on the demographic of “the common joe” who will get lively, was based in 2010. The Lively Joe has a powerful concentrate on inclusivity and bringing range to race beginning traces. Notably, The Lively 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 once I was simply 26 years previous, however these have been all highway races at first. I began path operating myself in 2011, and in 2014, I made a decision I needed 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 below a property dispute by a number of landowners solely six weeks earlier than the race.
I scrambled to discover a course someplace else that I may love and that’s the way it grew to become the Dinosaur Valley Endurance Run, which has a 100 miler, 100 kilometer, 50k, 25k, and 5 miler. I nonetheless produce highway races, and I’ve a couple of 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: After all I wish to say the grins, the tears, and the pleasure of the runners on the end line once they obtain some aim that I helped create the chance for them to pursue. However for me, I additionally do a variety of work within the subject of inclusivity, range, and fairness, and it feels great listening to from those who the vibe at my races is all they hoped it may very well be. That they really feel protected. That they really feel like everybody actually needs them there. The path operating group as a complete is all about that, however we nonetheless have a variety of underrepresented teams within the path world who wish to really feel just like the area was created for them.
AJW: What makes operating in Texas and the encircling areas so distinctive and particular?
Jones: Individuals don’t anticipate us to have the sweetness and vertical achieve that we now have at a few of our trails right here. I get stunned 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 stage nonetheless will get ignored loads. There are a variety of eyes on how huge California and the U.S. Pacific Northwest are in ultrarunning and path operating, however there’s a lot occurring right here. Dinosaur Valley wouldn’t be 600 runners if it wasn’t — and there are lots of Texas races placed on by many race producers, and runners present up!
AJW: What are the three largest challenges you face as a race director?
Jones: I feel each race director ought to embrace of their listing to reply the query of “expectation administration.” I talk loads 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 knowledge I can consider in a single place. I’m huge on private accountability 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 understanding what to anticipate if you arrive on the race.
Misogyny and bigotry is one other huge problem for me particularly. I’m in a really conservative state, producing occasions the place I’m extremely welcoming to numerous faces and experiences that may really feel uncomfortable for some folks. Plenty of 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 may create a really completely different really feel at a race. I do encounter a variety of sexist, racist, homophobic, and transphobic feedback, critiques, and pushback regularly, however I really feel strongly concerning the optimistic actions I take to carry underrepresented teams to the beginning line!
Lastly, I’d say the climate, in fact! Through the years, I’ve handled hail, thunderstorms, flooding, drought circumstances, file 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 finally that’s one factor that’s simply out of our management!
AJW: What modifications have you ever seen within the sport because you started directing occasions? Optimistic? Detrimental? Each?
Jones: On the optimistic facet, there’s a lot extra consciousness of path operating and of ultrarunning. Additionally, I used to be within the highway world once we have been nonetheless making an attempt to get highway half marathons to hit 50% feminine. And now we now have extra girls displaying up on trails, and it’s nice to see that progress.
On the detrimental facet, I’m uncomfortable with the elevated giant company possession that corporations like UTMB are bringing to race manufacturing. I really feel like I watched this with the Rock ‘n’ Roll Operating Sequence on the highway race directing facet. And I’ve had an organization are available in and attempt to do my course at my venue six weeks earlier than one among my highway races. It seems like your exhausting work is swiped out from below 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 could 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 turn into a qualifying race for the Western States 100. I fell in love with the Western States 100 again in 2012 once I volunteered in a single day in a wetsuit at Rucky Chucky, waist deep all evening within the American River. So I obtained to see a excessive proportion of the runners that yr, and I felt so impressed. My firm, The Lively 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 folks 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 beneath freezing, and it actually harm our finishers fee! Even when we meet the variety of finishers we’d like, we gained’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 easy 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 realize what to do within the feedback part! Go away your feedback about your experiences with Libby Jones, The Lively Joe, and Jones’ races.