New Balance and RootsRated have teamed up to profile runners making a difference in their communities. We asked each of our runners a series of questions to learn a little more about what running means to them, where they like to run and what are some of their running goals.
Javier De Jesus was always a competitive athlete, playing soccer throughout high school and college. It took just one marathon for him to get hooked on long distance running.
Your last road race was in 2009. Why did you shift to trail running?
The transition from road to trail is mainly in my racing. Based on terrain alone, it's so much more interesting on trail. You can run on smooth, pine needle laden trails or on uber-technical, rocky trails, or a combination. You can climb mountains, see waterfalls, visit Civil War-era landmarks or encounter wildlife... all of that in or within a few miles of Atlanta.
What are some of those favorite trails?
I live less than four miles from Stone Mountain Park, so I run most of my trail miles there. You can find 15 miles of trails, but one of my favorites is the white-blazed Cherokee Trail. The Sweetwater Creek trail is also pretty neat, as it goes by an old Civil War era mill and you run along the creek.
Would you classify yourself as a solo or group runner?
I run by myself mostly just out of convenience. It's easier to put on a pair of running shoes and just run out the door than to get in a car and go meet people. However, I've achieved the most enjoyment when I run with a small group of close friends.
Have you had a DNF in a race before? If so, what lessons did you learn?
Having to DNF from a race is not a desirable thing obviously. But there are times that it is simply best to realize that you are going to do more harm than good if you continue. I think the worst one was the Chattooga 50K a few years ago where I cramped up due to dehydration and had to cut it short at 22 miles. Every race is different, but you have to make the right call for you.
What running gear is important for you to use on your runs?
For long trail runs and races, I always carry a hand-held bottle or I wear my running hydration vest. It might not be pretty, but no matter what the distance, I can't live with out Body Glide. It definitely helps with chaffing.
One of the most popular entries on your blog is when you didn’t have your hand-held bottle. What happened?
My wife dropped me off at the start of the StumpJump 50K and drove off with my hand held water bottle. Luckily, some one let me borrow a water bottle before we got started, but it was a huge convenience store purchased bottle that I had to carry like a football for the entire race. The whole experience is well documented.
Who has inspired you throughout your trail running journey?
I'm inspired by the likes of Anton Krupicka, Scott Jurek and even old school ultrarunning icons like Ann Trason and Tim Twietmeyer. I recently met Rob Krar who is a super humble, but very talented runner. Killian Jornet is for me the most formidable running athlete currently out there.