AZ XC Athlete Spotlight 2020: Clara Jones

Clara Jones from Campo is quickly making a name for herself in her short high school career. She is currently the number eight ranked runner for girls in the entire state of Arizona. She is the number two ranked Division II girl runner, and the number one freshman girl runner in AZ. 

Clara took the time to answer some questions for us about herself and the season thus far - here are her responses:

What are your XC goals for this season?

My cross-country goals for this season is to place top ten at state, I also want to continue beating my personal record times.

What has been the strangest thing about training for XC during the pandemic?

Training during this pandemic has not changed much with Campo Verde cross-country. Our team coaches are very strict about wearing facemasks and trying to spread out as much as possible. Other than that the pandemic has not changed anything about our cross-country training.

Who is your toughest competition?

My toughest competition has been mainly the Casteel girls team that seem to crush it every race. I have beat them a few times but every race is different. Also, I have been trying to beat the freshman girls that are fast.

How are you liking racing in these waves at meets this season?

Racing in these waves at meets this season has made it hard to compete with other racers. It is hard to gauge where you are at in the race and how fast you are going when you start to mix with other waves.

What is the biggest difference you in racing last year to this year?

The biggest difference from last year's racing has been the distance run and the competitiveness with all of the girls. I went from running 1.5 miles to now 3.1 miles because I am a freshman.

Who is your biggest fan/supporter? How does/do he/she/they show you this support? 

My family is definitely my biggest support. They come to every race that they can come to and scream their hearts out for me. I have two older brothers that ran cross-country and I can remember cheering for them and not really thinking that they are listening to me. I now know that it is really encouraging to hear them yelling and cheering you on.

How was your summer training affected by Covid this summer? What was similar to previous years? What was different about it?

Usually, during the summer training, the cross-country goes on a high altitude training camp that is held at a teammates' cabin. Because of this pandemic and the circumstances that this world is in right now we were not able to do that. Gratefully our cross-country team has still been able to work very hard together at parks and canals making training just as good as in previous years.

How long have you been running? What do you enjoy most about running/xc?

I have been running my whole life! My parents raised me and my siblings in a very active lifestyle and so ever since I was a little girl I have been running. In Elementary school was when I really started competing in running. Running is so much fun! I love when you are gutting it out during a race and just want to give up and then when you finish your race you feel like you just won a million dollars. After you are done running I feel so rewarded and you just want to keep on running.

Is there a song, movie, show, or saying that motivates you or keeps you focused on your goals? If yes, what is it and why?

I have a friend that always tells me "You were made for this!!". This saying is always in my mind while I am racing because it makes me realize that the pain that I feel is supposed to be there and that I can push through the hardness.

What's your pre-race meal?

If the race is in the morning I usually wake up 3 hours before and have a banana and toast with peanut butter. If the race is at night my mom makes some sort of dinner that is packed with good protein.

Do you have any superstitions before the night of a race? (Any clothing you have to wear? Song you have to listen to? Food you need to eat? Etc.) If yes, how did this start?

Before the night of a race, I always ice my legs and stretch. It is not anything really special but it makes me go to bed feeling healed. Also the night before a race the Campo cross-country team has a pasta dinner to get good carbs in.

Anything else you wish to share with us that you think is important for our readers to know?

Running is all about pushing your limits and giving it all you have. I want to give a little shout out to all of the amazing coaches that have shown me how to run with the guts and mindset to go what they call "Deep in the pain cave". Obviously, I want to thank all of the runners that I have been able to race and train with that have made me become the best that I can be. I can say it enough running is the best!!