By Jeff Barton
He’s been racing since he was four years old. At 16, he became the youngest ever to win a Spartan Race at the elite level. He is a two-time OCR World Champion. And now the hybrid scene has piqued his interest and he’s fully focused on training for the DEKA FIT World Championships. He’s trophy case is packed full, but he’s always ready to make room for one more. He is Veejay Jones.
You were among the field in 2022 in West Palm Beach, the ridiculously stacked field of hybrid talent taking on the final qualifier for the World Championships. A relative newcomer to the hybrid scene, you put up a solid showing.
It was my second DEKA FIT and I was really looking forward to it. It was a def definitely different experience than what I had when I raced in Denver, where we raced on turf and at high altitudes. I had some expectations to go a little faster. I didn’t know exactly what I was getting into because at the time, I was still a full obstacle racer. I wasn’t doing any hybrid prep, but I had some fitness in my pocket. So went out, stayed nice, smooth and relaxed through the first half of the race. And then people started blowing up as we hit the Assault Bikes and I started making some moves and found myself on the podium. I was really happy with it. And seeing how fast some of these guys are that are focusing on hybrid, it kind of lit a fire in me to try to pursue this because I feel like my skill set can really work well here. I had a great time in West Palm and set a pretty quick time, almost went under 30. I was like a few seconds just above 30 minutes. So I have some goals ahead of me.
You also have some top DEKA competitors out there as well. Who do you see as the movers and shakers in the DEKA Arena? Who who are you aiming to be compared to?
Ryan Kent is the class of the field right now across all three DEKA disciplines. He’s the man. So obviously, you know, with him being kind of the top end of the field, your eyes look towards him, but also last year’s World Champion Rich Ryan, I’m very excited to compete against him. He’s actually giving me some pointers. And he’s coaching me currently to get into the hybrid arena as well as stay relevant and OCR. So I’m excited to compete against those two. And they’re both locals and friends of mine up in Colorado. We get to train together here and there. And I think we’re going to have a great competition come championship season. So those are the two guys I’m looking towards. And I’m wanting to get to their level and, if I’m capable, surpass it. And my main focus is going to be on the DEKA FIT. I’d like to hop into a MILE or STRONG here and there just as practice. But the DEKA FIT Championship is what I’m going to be chasing this year. So, so Rich, if you hear this, I am coming for your title, man!
You’re consulting the right guy when it comes to training specific zones and learning techniques to get faster. But how much effort do you put in to analyzing the racers you’re up against? Do you ever plan a race strategy based on who’s racing, or do you implement a game plan that you don’t waiver from once racing starts?
As you get to learn more about your competitors, you can race the athlete. I’ve been known in OCR to run my own race and to run exactly how I plan to. But and there are times when certain athletes can be raced against. I won’t like say any names or anything, but there are athletes where if you make a move at a certain time, or if you can affect their race in a certain way, you can kind of guarantee a win on your part. I’m a little new in the hybrid space. I don’t know all the athletes and exactly how they race. But I’m sure we’ll get some insight and figure out exactly what strategies work for certain athletes in this space.
Favorite DEKA Zone
You know, nobody enjoys this zone, and neither do I, but I like the Assault bikes because that’s when the race really starts. I kind of look forward to that moment in the race, because that’s when you test yourself to see how the race is going to go for you, to see how the race is going to go for other athletes, and that really sets up when the gutsy, painful part of the race really kicks in. So I look forward to Zone 7. I know a lot of people fear it, but it’s gonna hurt. So you might as well embrace it.
Nemesis DEKA Zone
I’d say Zone 1, the reverse lunges are a little sketchy. I’m fine on lunges, I can keep up with everybody. But it’s weird, because we know what the movement standard is yet almost every athlete in the elite field skirts that movement standard. So it’s how much do I bend the rules here so that I can stay in the race. But how much do I hold on to my integrity and keep doing what you’re supposed to do. So that’s my probably at the station that I kind of fear because I don’t know, like every judge is different. Every venue is different and how everyone approaches it. So it’s a little bit of a weird one. But that’s probably the one that kind of bugs me a little.
DEKA Pro Tip
Learn that this race, for the fastest athletes in the world, still takes at least 27 minutes. So if you compare a DEKA FIT race to something else, it’s more than a 5k and just below a 10k. This is is still an aerobic event. This takes time. So get your volume in on your stations and on your cardio machines. It may be functional fitness but the heart of it is still running.