SGPT Interviews Endurance Athlete Mark Jones

Tell us about yourself. Did you have an athletic background growing up?

I was the kid that kids are not these days. Roller hockey, basketball, stick ball, and whistle Nerf football, while taking the winter months off a little to make money shoveling snow for hours on end, I hustled my entire childhood, making pennies/hr, but still earning everything I had.

You’ve been in the military for almost 20 years now. What ignited your inner fire and initially made you decide to join?

During my senior year in high school, I really didn’t have a choice. With no family support, living on my own since the year prior, and a change in life that desperately needed to be made, I sought out a Marine Recruiter.

The realization was that I was in such a bad place in my life, I wanted to die and thought serving my Country, in a war my intuition told me was coming, would be the best way to make this happen. Like I said, I was in a bad place.

During boot camp, the fire grew each day. This fire allowed me to realize that I wasn’t worthless, people needed me, and I needed them. My life began to have a purpose, in what I called my new birth, upon graduation.

How did you find your passion for extreme endurance racing?

Unknown to me at the time, the Marine Corps Crucible was the first actual endurance race I have ever participated in. My actual passion began when I realized there was more out there than just running and gutting a marathon out. My passion truly began in 2011 when I sought out the world’s toughest races.

After participating, and finishing one of those, I wanted more.

You’ve completed a Winter, Team, Traveling, and Summer Spartan death races. That’s incredible. Did you train differently before each of those races? And if so, what was the biggest change you made to your training?

First, the backstory. I was living out of my car and asked to live in a cabin by the CEO of Spartan Race. With no home, yet again, I took his offer of attempting to win the Death Race Series by fully engulfing myself into a rugged lifestyle daily for 2 years. My cabin (the woodpile) had no heat or water).

The change in training basically flowed with the seasons. The race is the same across the board, carry heavy stuff for a long time, endure the cold, and stay awake. Prepare, Train, Compete, Repeat……If you ever tried to figure out the race, it won. I always just went into each one calmly and took one task at a time, not thinking about anything else.

Can you sign up for a Spartan Death race, or do you have to be invited?

I was invited to all of them, but anyone can sign up. There is no elite pass to be accepted into any of these events. The facts are 200-300 people sign up and 50-150 show up.

Do you have one or two tips you could give someone who may be thinking about doing their first Spartan Death race?

Well, the race is not for me anymore. There was an amazing group of Organizers that used to consist of the most phenomenal group of people I have ever interacted with. I believe the race has taken a different route and has come and gone over the years. Who really knows if they will even have another.

Either way, I am happy to discuss my experiences with anyone thinking of participating, but again, I think there are better events out there more structured than this one. I will end on a sustain, the race did change my life.

What is the hardest physical event you’ve ever gone through?

GORUCK Selection. I was unfortunately unable to finish as I collapsed. They pulled me out for medical reasons. I do want to go through it again and complete it, so that’s one thing I’m training for.

What is the biggest thing you want to accomplish in 2019?

  • GORUCK Team Assessment Finish
  • GORUCK Selection Finish
  • Guinness World Rucking Record
  • Bataan Death March 1st overall Heavy Division

Extreme endurance racing has gained a lot of popularity over the years. Has your success in endurance racing lead to any sponsorship opportunities?

I have had sponsors come and go because of my extreme events. Focusing on a few big events in a year is not as attractive as someone who posts videos with their shirt off daily or races every weekend.

However, Honey Badger has supported me from the beginning and I cannot thank them enough. Also, GORUCK actually made me one of theirs, as of today. Looks like SEALgrinderPT (SGPT) is on that new list as well. Would love to get a shoe and nutrition sponsor.

Over the years, I realized Quality over Quantity is the way to go. I like where i’m going. I won’t discuss those I am not with anymore, but I am appreciative of everyone that has supported me over my career.

What book(s) are you currently reading?

I am the world’s slowest reader, FACT! I read two pages and am drooling/knocked out. However, at my bedside is Unbroken, Ready player one, and 2 Men’s Health magazines, along with my buddies book “Discovering Orienteering.”

Where can people go to learn more about what you’re doing, or to follow you on the web?

Facebook

Get together events posted at VT Ruck Club

Thank you for the interview, Mark.

Thank you for your time and support. I look forward to working with you soon. Anyone reading this, please reach out and let me know your goals or ambitions. IF you have depression issues or just need to speak with someone, please get in touch with me. I have been there and know how to get out of the funk. WE can work through it together.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tom Coffey is a former Army Ranger, certified nutrition coach, and coffee connoisseur.

He specializes in helping busy people who work full time jobs lose their first 20-50 pounds without giving up the foods they love.

You can read more of Tom’s work over at Tom Coffey Fitness.

RELATED ARTICLES

SGPT Interviews Army Ranger Grant McGarry

SGPT Interviews Former Navy SEAL Charles Moser

BUD/S and Special Forces Questions and Answers