Daniel: the young Jung ultratrailer
“Pushing my body to the limit and being in such breathtaking places all the time really motivates me”
Running without limits in natural surroundings is his philosophy.
This is Daniel Jung, 33 years old, a native of Italy’s Alto Adige region and a SCARPA athlete. After nine years of mountain bike races and triumphs, in 2014 he discovered running in the mountains. Trail running won his heart and became not only a passion but his true love! He has had one triumph after another including a 2nd place at the Vibram Hong Kong 100 ultra marathon, a 6th place at the Madeira Island Ultra Trail and a 5th place at the Transvulcania Ultramarathon.
Daniel, you have only been running for a few years and you’ve already become one of the world’s best ultra trailers. What made you undertake this discipline?
I wanted to do mountain bike less and less as the years went by. Then one day, I put on my first pair of trail shoes for no particular reason and it was like love at first sight! I love this sport and I’m really happy about being able to bring so many wins home with me. Training and sacrifice are much easier when you’ve got a lot of passion. I try to enjoy every minute of it.
From marathons to ultras – you like long races. Why this choice as opposed to shorter races?
I chose the ultras to understand what my limits were and I found out that the longer the race, the better I am able to express myself and keep up with the great athletes. Since I am quite robust and muscular for a trailer, I think I am better suited to long races.
You have already run some of the greatest and best known races in various places. Which do you like best and which ones would you like to try?
The Südtirol Ultraskyrace is definitely one of the toughest. The best ones so far have been the Madeira Ultratrail and the Transvulcania. The atmosphere and landscapes are spectacular! There are many other races on my “ToDoList”, of course. There are countless fantastic races organized all over the world.
Many people are taking up this discipline and many have a hard time with the long distances. How do you train?
I train based upon when I want to; when I’ve got the time and because I enjoy it. I don’t have a strict schedule and I don’t have a trainer. If I feel up to it I train for hours otherwise, I opt for short but very intense workouts. My rule of thumb is to work a bit on every aspect and then be careful about recuperating between one training session and the next. I try to train the right amount and to make it count in terms of quality.
What do you put in your rucksack before anything else?
You usually have to abide by the material the organization defines as mandatory. You should also have something to eat and drink with you at all times along with a mobile phone, some money, a jacket, a survival blanket, a first-aid kit, an emergency headlamp and a GPS watch with a pre-charged GPX that is also available on mobiles.
Many races start at dawn – or even earlier than that. Is it hard to run in the dark, following the light of your headlamp?
I love running at night so there’s no problem there. I appreciate the peace and quiet that nature has to offer even more at night.
Have you ever come face to face with a crisis while competing?
Sure. Critical situations are part of the Ultra world but they are meant to be overcome and it’s always very gratifying when you’re able to surmount a crisis. There are different kinds of dilemmas you might have to face: mental, physical or even hunger! Willpower and my sense of pride get me through – sometimes it takes 10 minutes and other times it takes a bit longer. ;-)
Which shoes have you chosen for this season?
My favourites are definitely SPIN. I love that model and I have already done a few races with them on even if they were designed for short races and verticals. I am really comfortable in them.
If a race becomes too long and very technical, I usually pull out my secret weapon: the NEUTRON. I have everything I need with these two models so that all I have to do is concentrate on the race at hand. I think that they are perfect for any race.
What is your goal for this season?
I would like to go face to face with the elite runners from all over the world and get great results. I hope I’ll be able to practice this sport for many years to come, staying physically healthy and having a great time.