Dylan Bowman, 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon Champion, Interview

Dylan Bowman started to 2015 off with a bang with his commanding win of this weekend’s Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand. In the following interview, Dylan talks about how his race played out including where he went too hard, what sort of break he’ll take after Tarawera, and what his racing plans are for 2015.

For more on what happened at this year’s race, read our in-depth results article on the 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon.

[Click here if you can’t see the video above.]

Dylan Bowman, 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon Champion, Interview Transcript

iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dylan Bowman after his win at the 2015 Tarawera Ultramarathon. Nice running out there, DBo.

Dylan Bowman: Thanks, man. I was really happy with it.

iRunFar: Some guys went off the front early today—Yun [Yan-Qiao] and Robbie Britton. What were you thinking that they were pulling away pretty early on?

Bowman: I actually didn’t know that they were ahead of us until we came into mile 23 aid station there and you let us know. I thought Jorge [Maravilla] was in first at that point. I was just behind him. So, yeah, but then I caught both of them very shortly after I left that aid station. I could sort of tell that both were laboring a little bit because they’d gone out really hard. So I moved into the lead at maybe mile 25 which is definitely earlier than I really wanted to, but at that point I figured I might as well try and commit now so they don’t catch up and then we have a race later. That’s kind of how it played out.

iRunFar: So at the Okataina Lodge which I’m guessing is mile 23, that’s where you caught Jorge right in the aid station. I kind of in my own mind was kind of expecting you guys to cover some ground together because it’s a long race. Did you just have different speeds at that point and you just kept on rolling?

Bowman: Yeah, I think he may have stopped to use the restroom or something like that, but yeah we switched basically right there and I didn’t see him again. We ran a good amount of the early race together and I was so happy to hear he was behind me during the race. And to see him finish was one of the highlights of the day.

iRunFar: Maybe 10 or 12 miles later you had a 10-minute lead. You build it up pretty quick on the entire field. Did you put in a surge? You kept about that lead for awhile. What happened there?

Bowman: Yeah, like I said, when you take the lead, you have to make a decision. You either commit to taking the lead or you sort of move into the front and keep it conservative and there’s the possibility of people catching back up. I chose to put in a little bit of a surge. Like I said, it was way earlier than I would have liked to take the lead. I think I may have gone a little bit too hard there because I suffered the last 10k or so. But you know, it’s only my second 100k, so I didn’t really have a lot of experience to draw on for those last 12. I was looking over my shoulder, but I got updates that my lead was comfortable. I know Jorge always finishes hard. He runs downhills and flats a lot better than me. So, I didn’t think I had it wrapped up until the finishing chute.

iRunFar: It’s interesting. You guys are neighbors, but you’re also sort of are both really strong early season, a good mix of fast and dealing with the hills and mountains. It makes for some really interesting early-season competition.

Bowman: Yeah, and we have different strengths. Early in the race we ran a lot together but it was kind of back and forth. Mostly he was in front, but he is just so good at running downhill. I’ll reel him back in on any climbs, but he’s so strong. I knew he was going to be a factor today particularly the way the race ends with a lot of flat and downhill. Like I said, I’m super, super happy for him. He had a great race at TNF [EC 50 Mile] and now a great race here. Stoked that we get to bring it back to Mill Valley.

iRunFar: It’s only a week into February and you just ran a pretty darn good and fast, hard 100k. Is there any time to take a break?

Bowman: Yeah, I think I do better taking a lot of short breaks throughout the year rather than one or two longer ones. So, I think what I’ll do is I’ll talk to Coach Koop and see what he thinks. I’ll be racing Lake Sonoma, so I can’t take too much of a rest, but I don’t anticipate running that much in the next week or so. I recognize that the races I really want to do well at are later in the year.

iRunFar: What are those?

Bowman: I’ll be racing Western States again for the fourth year in a row. That race deserves every ounce of focus you can put into it. That’s what I’ll do. Obviously, it was a good race for me there last year. So we’ll go back and see if we can do a little bit better. I think I’ll be doing CCC in Chamonix. I don’t really feel I do well at more than one 100 miler per year at this point in my career, so I’ll do the short distance. I’m thinking about also doing the TNF 100k – Australia. So that’s kind of how it’s shaping up now. Of course, that can change a little bit.

iRunFar: Kind of a nice lead-up—50 mile to 100k to 100 mile.

Bowman: Yeah, and they’re competitive races. I think for me, the biggest thing I need at this point in my career is to get more experience with racing really competitive races in order to do well in the races I really want to. So that’s kind of the decision-making process for me. I’m really excited about this year.

iRunFar: Congratulations on a great run today, and good luck with the rest of your year.

Bowman: Thanks, Bryon.

There are 25 comments

  1. lstomsl

    Once again Bryon allows a Carmichael Training System athlete to use his site for free advertising without taking the opportunity to talk about Carmichael's history and what it means to ultra-running. Maybe we should all just spread our arms wide and tell Chris Carmichael and his athletes that we welcome him into our sport. What a joke.

    1. Bryon of iRunFar

      LSTOML,
      You've beat your drum enough to get a response. One of Koop's athlete engaged at length with you on the subject in another comment thread. You weren't satisfied with that. I can't imagine that you would be satisfied with whatever Koop's other athletes say. They're also not going to stop having Koop coach them because of a few feisty fans. With that being the case, there's no real point in asking them anything on the matter on your behalf. The fact is you don't like Carmichael as a person* and that won't change, as your comment below from late 2013 shows.

      "Carmichael has no credible place in sport in my opinion and athletes and coaches should take a stand not to contribute to his ill begotten wealth. If he was such a good coach he would have actually coached Lance instead of been a false flag. Carmichael would still be working out of his bedroom if he had not made an intentional decision to aid and abet Lance in his cheating and he is the only one in the whole sordid saga who is still benefitting financially. If there were any justice in the world he would loose his business and die a pauper.

      I don't believe anyone is guilty by association with CTS but anyone, athlete or coach, who wanted to take a credible anti-doping stance would never work with this company and contribute to Carmichaels wealth. There are plenty of other options available from people who never consciously contributed to doping fraud and who have been cheated in the business by Carmichael."

      As I've previously discussed, we do need to keep our eyes on performance enhancement in the sport. I think that needs to happen from the top of the sport down rather than asking questions about second-degree associations in interviews.

      Respectfully,
      Bryon

      * That's your choice and that's totally fine. However, it's clear your issue with Carmichael isn't all about doping.

  2. lstomsl

    Yep. I said that. And I stand by it, In fact the situation today is much worse then in 2013 when I originally wrote it. CTS athletes have been dominating the sport in the past 6 months and everytime I turn around CTS and Jason Koop are mentioned on your site and others, being celebrated as the coach of the stars with no questions being asked.

    Contrary to your statement I have nothing against Carmichael other than his 30 year history of involvement in doping. When I used to see him every day on TV taking credit for Lances success in the Tour de France he seemed like a nice guy. But then he continued taking credit for Lances success after it became obvious that he was doping, and even worse using his position as lances coach to defend Lance and claim that he couldn't dope without his knowledge.

    For 15 years he claimed that Lance was telling the truth while Lance was lying. And when Lance finally told the truth and testified under oath that Carmichael knew all along, now suddenly Chris Carmichael claims that Lance is lying. Its absurd that anybody gives the guy any credibility at all.

    Worse multiple young cyclists he coached have sued him for doping them without their consent or knowledge. That's about the worst thing a "coach" could possibly do. A man like that should never be allowed to coach another athlete and in the next year or two it is highly likely that he will be banned by USADA but ultra-running is welcoming him with open arms.,

    But you clearly don't give a shit. In a sport where there is very little testing or even a consistent sanctioning body, the media is our only hope for spreading awareness and keep people like Carmichael out. But since you have come out publicly as saying that you refuse to ask anyone any questions we now know for absolute certainty that there is nothing to prevent a runner from doping. They won't even be asked about it. Ever. Thanks for that.

    Yes. Alex Varner was gracious enough to answer some questions I had for him, but he failed to provide any reason why his association with CTS should not be a problem. He basically said that he just didn't care. That's a shame. It would be nice to know if DBo also just doesn't care, but we'll never know because you won't ask him. You apparently don't care either. Maybe DBo has given it more thought than Alex has. Maybe DBo could provide an explanation of why he thinks its OK to work with CTS that would convince those of us on the sidelines that its OK, but we'll never know because you wont ask him.

    Would you ask any questions if a dirty coach who had multiple Kenyan marathoners testing positive suddenly switched to ultras and his runners began dominating the sport? What about one of the russian coaches known to have doped their athletes? I doubt it. After all you think that should happen from the top down. Interesting point of view considering that there is no "top" in our sport. Sounds like a cop out to me.

    Respectfully,
    Mike

    1. Bryon of iRunFar

      Mike,
      We're never going to agree on an approach to this issue. That doesn't mean I don't give a shit. That means I'm not going to approach the issue of performance enhancing drugs in our sport in exactly the timing or manner you wish. I have ideas for meaningful dialogue on the subject. I won't rush them. I understand that's unsatisfactory to you. So be it.

      That said, at this point your basically trolling. You may mean well, but you've repeatedly voiced your opinion at every opportunity–often in an inflammatory and antagonistic manner. Despite this, we continue to let you comment on the issue, despite insinuations against athletes and attacks on iRunFar's staff, in violation of our comment policies. Please consider a new approach or, if your not amenable to that, perhaps take your indignation elsewhere.

      -Bryon

    2. afvarner

      First of all, huge congrats to DBo (and Jorge) for a fantastic run this weekend. Can't wait to buy you a beer at the Deuce and sorry to see your results thread hijacked.

      Mike – I don't know what response would satisfy your repeated calls to action. Do I need to tell Koop that I won't work with him unless he dissociates from CTS? Or if he never dissociates, then will any athlete that works with him be under a black cloud by association? Lay out what you view as an acceptable solution instead of just complaining about everything.

      The reason I said I didn't care about his association with CTS is that for me, the doping issue comes down to the athletes. They are the ones who ultimately decide what to put in their bodies. I've said it before and I'll say it again: I don't dope. I don't expect you to believe me, and that's your choice. I understand that people might be skeptical of any results I may put up (I assume you are), but my response to that is simply: test me. And I hope that willingness is shared by all of my fellow athletes, regardless of their coach. If it isn't something's terribly wrong.

      Irrespective,
      Alex

      1. lstomsl

        Yes Alex. As long as many of the top athletes in ultra-running are writing a check to Chris Carmichael there is a black cloud over the entire sport.

        As long as Koop continues his 14 year association with Carmichael and refuses to answer questions about that there is a black cloud over both him and his athletes.

        As long as you and Dylan and Dakota and Timmy and others continue voting with your wallets to welcome a guy like Chris Carmichael into this sport your credibility is at question and you have completely discarded any ability to be an advocate for clean sport.

        It's easy to say "test me" when you know it's not gonna happen. Your actions speak louder than mere words. Yes, ultimately it is ultimately your decision what you put in your body but since we have no idea what you are putting in your body your choice to further enrich a man that has a well documented 30 year history of putting illegal PEDs into the bodies of his athletes, sometimes without their knowledge or consent, is absolutely shouting to the world that you are unconcerned about the issue.

        Coaching matters. Those 38 African marathoners who have tested positive in the past few years didn't get their EPO from their village pharmacy. If you read any of the accounts of cyclists who have been busted you will see that almost every one was introduced to PEDs by their coach. Including the coach you have made a conscious choice to send money to every month.

  3. lstomsl

    OK Bryon, I look forward to hearing how you approach the issue, but I'm certainly not holding my breath. . Sorry you feel like you're being "attacked". I have actually been quite careful to not make any insinuations about specific athletes. I just want people to understand what is happening in ultra-running before another sport that I love becomes a joke. I was hoping to convince you that you can be a productive part of addressing the issue but you clearly aren't interested. There's nothing wrong with having a conversation, sorry that is so frightening to you.

      1. @brownaroo

        Congratulations D Bo! It was great seeing you race in New Zealand (my home)

        I ran my first ultra on Saturday so followed the results/media closely. I didn't know too much about you before hand but both you and Jorge seem like cool guys (as did pretty much every one there)

        All the best for the rest of the year!

        As an aside I bought myself a pair of Julbo Trek sunglasses last night because it said on their site that you and Jorge both recommended them :) (and the photocromatic lenses sounds cool)
        What were you racing in? they looked kind of like the Dusts? (were they Julbo?)

  4. ClownRunner

    I know I should resist the temptation, but as an iRunFar Humor Consultant, I must try my best at a joke here. So here goes…..Following up on AJW's recent post on Running Camps, I do believe the creation of a "Carmichael Summer Running and Rehab Camp" could be a big hit! :)

  5. AdamLawrence

    Mike, your arguments are cogent and well supported. I basically agree with your points. But I also understand that Bryon (not to mention all of Koop's athletes) are in a difficult position regarding doping. But enough of that. My main question to all, and I ask this earnestly and without my own answer in mind, is this: is there honestly enough money in ultrarunning to incentivize doping, or will there be enough soon? Even at a "championship" event like TNF, the winner's purse of $10,000 is paltry by the standards of road marathoning (where doping is clearly an issue in regards to at least some elites). And keep in mind that even road marathoning is a highly undercapitalized sport in comparison with endurance cycling in Lance's hayday, let alone the hyper-capitalist team sports. The majority of elite road marathoners in the US make less than $50k a year. In ultrarunning, most the elites, like Alex, David Roche, and even Krar, are true amateurs in that they have serious, full-time jobs in fields completely unrelated to their running. The money that companies like Nike and TNF put into ultrarunning looks big compared to where the sport was 5 years ago, but probably amounts to a rounding error in terms of those megacorp's balance sheets. Doping not only costs money to do, but poses significant health risks above and beyond those presented by conventional training. Obviously everyone at the top wants to do well, and there are significant economic and personal incentives to do what they have to to win. But the kind of external economic incentive that existed in the case of cycling, and exists now at the very top of road marathoning, just doesn't seem to be there, and thus far most of the top athletes seem to be motivated primarily by a sincere desire to do their best and a love of competition. This remains a hobby of sorts, even for most of the best runners out there.

    1. @SageCanaday

      First off I'll state this: I'm 100% clean. Test me anytime..any day of the year. (I'd also never want to be associated with CMS…I coach myself).

      I think at at the top level of MUT Running it's not all about the money though. People want to win prestigious races, set records and gain sponsorship opportunities. I think that is the reason a top athlete would dope (doesn't make sense to me, but it seems to be happening).

      Heck, it might be more likely that an age grouper takes a little EPO/HGH to win a masters category or set a Strava FTK just to boast to their friends at a local event. I've raced against guys on the road that got busted. I remember when I raced them I used to always think "why is this guy beating me by so much!" When one got busted, he came out and said 4:50/mile pace felt like a jog when he was juiced up…well, then it all made sense. The guy was reported as making about $20k a year from prize money in total (he raced a lot though as the recovery must've been easy for him!) and basically had no shot at the Olympic Team. I don't know where people's morals go, but it wasn't all about the "big" money…it was like an ego fueling thing (or something crazy like that)

      1. @brownaroo

        Hi Sage,

        I hope your marathon training is going well.
        You're pretty much one of my coaches too. I love all the material you put out there. You are one of the inspirations for me training so hard the last 12 months and running my first ultra at Tarawera on Saturday.

        What I would like to know is: D Bo has said hes coming back next year, if he makes it do you think you could bring him down? He was pretty quick :)
        But seriously I'm just trying to provoke a response in hope I might see you again in New Zealand :)

        My next big race is the Christchurch Marathon, I have been loving your OTQ videos. I am up to number 5 so might go watch that now.

        One final thing, your video to that hockey song (wanna be black) on the way to your last otq where you were running topless inspired my friend to a half marathon pb – haha

    2. Matt Flaherty

      Addressing only your question about is there a big enough economic incentive here, I think the issue is that the money available is only one part of the equation. (Also, only taking into account prize money is to undervalue it; if you win TNF50 for instance, you're likely making a lot more than $10k through expanded opportunities, prize-money match clauses/bonuses, enhanced value when you renegotiate your contract, etc.) Others probably know more about this history, but I believe your argument here was often cited as to why there was no need for doping control in Masters Athletics. "There isn't any (or much) money, this isn't the main stage of sport, so why would anyone cheat?" But as soon as they started testing, a bunch of people tested positive (i.e. they'd been using all along), despite very little monetary incentive. The lesson was it that it doesn't take a bunch of money. It takes ego, prestige, hypercompetitive personalities… just because it seems like an odd decision to you doesn't mean people won't do it.

      Also, I think the greater amount of money at stake in cycling, certain circles of track & field, etc. really just allows for more complex doping in those venues. I would be shocked for instance if there were designer drugs (a la BALCO) or organized doping rings (a la cycling and Lance) in ultrarunning, but that doesn't mean ultrarunners can't or won't use HGH, EPO, etc. And since there is no real testing, you don't have to have a complex doping system; those drugs won't be caught if not tested for. Further, there have been positive tests in races like Comrades for a while now (road racing, not the grass-rootsy American 100-mile trail scene I know), so it already exists in at least some segments of ultrarunning.

      All this said, I have no knowledge of any U.S. ultrarunner doping and can't really imagine anyone that I know doing so, but who am I to say? It at least seems possible, based on history and other sports, and dismissing that possibility out of hand seems silly.

      1. lstomsl

        Exactly Matt. You don't need to resort to blood transfusions and doctors when you can walk down to your local aging clinic and get a prescription for testosterone and HGH paid for by your insurance company. Thanks Obama!

        Testing isn't 100% effective but it sure makes things harder and more expensive for dopers and even in cycling where millions were spent trying to beat tests almost everybody got busted in the end.

  6. AdamLawrence

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful responses, Sage and Matt. It's disturbing to think that it might be happening, but it's also good to know that a lot of top runners are clean, and are also willing to admit that it could be a problem.

    1. Ben_Nephew

      As Mike pointed out, one problem is that we don't know a lot of top runners are clean because there is almost no testing in ultrarunning. We can only hope and guess. Even in track in field, where there is frequent testing, many athletes dope and avoid testing positive for years. People are suspicious of coaches connected to athletes who test positive because it is often more than one athlete involved. Doping does come down to the decision of an individual athlete, but there is an established history of multiple convicted athletes being associated with a single coach. Considering this reality, saying that you are willing to be tested may not help much when there is chance of being tested. Given the financial realities you outlined and lack of governing bodies for most events, this is unlikely to change in the near future.

      Some may wonder, "There are many great ultra (along with road and track) coaches out there, several with a longer history with ultrarunning, so why risk associating yourself with one of the most well known doping cases in sports?"

      or

      "Why would a coach either stay involved with CTS or become associated with CTS given the doping history?"

      What if another CTS athlete, even if it is not a runner, tests positive?

      1. AtomLawrence

        Dylan, Alex, Dakota, Timothy and everyone else associated with Koop are gracious and amazing athletes, and I think everyone agrees there's no reason to suspect them of doping. But yes, there are a lot of great coaches out there. And Sage, Rob, and others seem to do just fine without any coach. Publically disassociating from Koop would send a pretty strong anti-doping message from the upper echelons of the sport on down. I for one am inclined to believe that Dylan's awesome running has more to do with years of hard training and racing, and less to do with the magic touch of one particular coaching system.

        1. dylanbowman

          I appreciate the kind words, Atom. But I attribute nearly 100% of my improvement over the last 18 months to my relationship with Jason Koop. I never ran growing up and had no idea what real training looked like until I started working with him. He is a great guy and an incredibly smart, supportive and professional coach.

          The truth is Jason is single handedly changing the sport right now. Yes, there are a lot of coaches. But I disagree that there are a lot of *great* coaches with years of physiological education and personal experience running competitively in ultra races. With Koop, it goes far beyond reading and executing an excel spreadsheet training plan. It's actual professional coaching including GPS data analysis, nutrition & strategic consultation, physiological testing, etc. There's a big difference. At this point in my career, and because I don't have a history of running, I need a coach in order to be the best athlete I can be. Koop's coaching style meshes well with how I like to train. I've known him a long time and trust him entirely. That's why he's my coach.

          The success his athletes are having is a direct reflection of his skill. Koop's presence is elevating the sport, not bringing it down. It is forcing existing coaches to up their game and encouraging current and future athletes to aim higher. He is launching ultrarunning into the next generation which is a beautiful thing. Success brings haters, which is sad. I appreciate you being respectful in your comments.

          If you or anyone else in this thread wants to communicate with me directly, email me at [email protected].

          1. wnyates

            Dylan, first of all congrats on a great race and the win! Secondly, thanks for taking the time to write a response being married to an elite ultra runner I know how busy you are and writing a response to a comment thread on iRunfar is the last thing you have time for. I think pretty much everyone can agree that it isn't Koop or the athletes that they question or have an issue with. Both Koop and the ultra runners he coaches are highly respected and thought of in the ultra running community. I think the question people have is why would the athletes and Koop give money to or work for Carmichael? That's all, it isn't about hating on Koop or his athletes, it is all about Carmichael benefiting from Koop and his athletes success.

            On another note, in the age of GPS watches, heart rate monitors, VO2 max testing, altitude tents, course specific training and all the other technology and analysis runners from the back of the pack to the elites and their coaches swear by, I can't help but appreciate the simpleness of Michele's approach. A $20 watch from Walmart, a piece of paper, a pencil and running shoes is all she uses to do her training, which 90%+ is done on the road with no long slow runs or the mileage that everyone says you need to do. She basically does the opposite of what everyone in the ultrarunning crowd does and swears by. At the end of the day it comes down to how much you believe in yourself, how big is your dream, and are you willing to work your ass off for that dream and make the necessary sacrifices in your life to accomplish that dream. It really is that simple. Now the sacrifices and working your ass off…that's the hard part.

            1. AdamLawrence

              Exactly. Thank you for taking the time to reply to my post. It's been fun watching your rise over the past few years (I first saw you in action at Ray Miller). You guys are great, and open, approachable, and humble in a way elites in few other sports are. The association with Carmichael is just unfortunate, and it would send a strong signal throughout the ultrarunning community if Koop distanced himself from CTS. But I have no idea how realistic it is to expect him to do that.

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