Jordan McDougal grew up in the Adirondack Mountains region of New York state. Before he was 10 years old, McDougal was running track and cross-country. He advanced to running on a scholarship at Liberty University. He has now advanced to ultra marathons, Spartan events and mountain racing.
“Growing up in the Adirondacks I played just about any sport available, and skied and raced snowshoes in the winter, which was really my introduction to mountain racing I guess,” he says.
McDougal, who is North Face sponsored athlete, has won several of the North Face Endurance Challenge events including one earlier this year in Washington, D.C. McDougal finished the 50-mile event in 6:44:55, beating the runner-up by nearly 45 minutes.
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Interview with champion ultra runner Jordan McDougal
Tell me about your growth as a runner. I assume you didn’t start out with ultras? How did you get up to that level?
I was competitive in track and cross country and put in 100-plus mile weeks through college. When I graduated I was a little burnt out on the track/cross/road racing scene so I took a few years off during which time I did some long hikes/runs in the mountains, and that scene just appealed to me.
Why ultras? Why not focus your energies on marathons, or smaller distances?
I definitely enjoy the challenge I get out of ultras although it is really mountain/trail running that draws me regardless of the distance.
You’ve competed in North Face Endurance Challenge events, and won some. What is your favorite memory of one of those events?
Probably winning the D.C. event this year. I hadn’t run more than 25 miles a week for the past six months but I just went in with the mindset that I was going to persevere no matter what happened out there and things went shockingly well. I guess it was memorable because I really didn’t expect it.
What separates North Face events from other ultras?
They are always very well organized they have amazing volunteers and most of all they have something for everybody.
A good number of runners (myself included) are interested in running an ultra. Tell us about how the training for an ultra would be different than for a marathon?
I think that really depends on what ultra you are running. Some of the mountain ultras will require different training, but if you are running a flatter 50K or 50-miler that training would actually be very similar, your long run would just be longer. I think specificity is what is most important in a training plan so once you have picked out a race you want to focus on train not only for that distance but for that terrain.
Talk about the nutrition aspect. How do you fuel for your long training runs, and during ultras?
I use Generation UCAN, which provides amazing long lasting energy. I supplement that with energy gels that I dissolve into my electrolyte drink so that I don’t have to eat them. I also carry RunGum with me and if I feel a low point coming on I pop a piece in and that helps tremendously. I have struggled with nutrition for a while but this seems to be my recipe for success.
What are your goals, or bucket list races?
Trans Rockies, Marathon Des Sables, Mt Marathon, UTMB … I’m sure there will be others to add to the list once I learn about them
Who, or what inspires, you?
My family, having fun, pushing my limits, and seeing new and amazing places.
Name: Jordan McDougal
Hometown: Linden, Virginia, USA.
Number of years running: 20
How many miles a week do you typically run: Right now I’m lucky to get 50 in, but when I’m really hitting the base miles anywhere from 90-120
Favorite race distance: I will race anything but my favorite is around 25-30K of tough technical mountain.
Favorite pre-race or training food/drink: Honey Stinger Waffle and UCAN
Favorite or inspirational song to run to: That depends on my mood really
Favorite or inspirational mantra/phrase: I would rather be ashes than dust.
Where can other runners connect or follow you: @JJmcdougaler on both Instagram and twitter, and runnerjj.blogspot.com