After two years of trying, Dylan Bowman finally had the kind of race he really wanted, and one that matched his potential. In doing so, he finished third at the 2014 Western States 100. In this interview, Dylan talks about how his race played out, where and how he made a very late-race pass of Max King to move into third position, and how he thinks he can still improve upon his 100-mile racing abilities.
Be sure to check out our results article for the whole race story including links to the rest of iRunFar’s post-race coverage.
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Dylan Bowman Post-2014 Western States 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dylan Bowman after his third-place finish at the 2014 Western States 100. Dylan, your seventh 100, your third Western States—you nailed it.
Dylan Bowman: Yeah, it was really a special day. I’m really happy about it overall. Still see some room for improvement, but like I said, I’m really happy and most of all I’m just excited I was able to finish strong and remain competitive during the final stages.
iRunFar: That really was your goal. You were talking about that casually for months. You’ve come and run Western States twice and really struggled at the end from pushing hard. Do you think it was just a change in race-day approach, or did you also change your training to allow you to push at the end?
Bowman: No question my training has been a lot different. I think more so it was a mental thing. I ran a much smarter race. Overall, I didn’t feel great at all, really, the whole day, but I stayed within myself. If I felt like I was going a pace where it was not sustainable or where I was losing consistency, I backed off. Then I was able to replenish myself and gain momentum again. I just sort of practiced that the whole day. The result was I was still mentally coherent and strong in the last 15 or 20 miles when it really counts. That’s really the place I was focusing on in my entire lead up. To be able to execute there was really fulfilling.
iRunFar: Was there any point where you were able to say not just, Alright, I’m going to run strong to the finish, but, It’s go time. I can push. I can survive?
Bowman: Yeah, definitely. We were getting reports that Max [King] was fading. I made up close to 10 minutes on him between ALT and Brown’s Bar. When we got to Browns Bar, Hal [Koerner] told me that Max had just left. So at that point, the competitive instinct kicks in and you’re starting to think about hitting the podium. I didn’t see Max for a long time. It took several more miles for me to actually get within striking distance. When I did, I was with my pacer, Alex Tiernan, and Max didn’t have a pacer. I said, “Alright, let’s go.” We just hit the gas and flew past him and I charged as hard as I could down to No Hands Bridge and beyond. I was able to get enough of a cushion to hang on over the last couple of miles.
iRunFar: How do you gauge that? Obviously Max has finishing speed. Maybe he’s going through a little low patch and can push again later. How do you gauge just pushing it to the finish? Do you try to build a gap or a cushion? What’s the strategy?
Bowman: Definitely, it was more so gauging what he looked like when I passed him. He didn’t hang on and he didn’t give chase. That gave me a little bit of an indication he was probably fairly toast. Obviously you can’t count a guy like him out. So particularly with the faster sections between No Hands and that final climb and obviously the road, the last thing I’d want is for Max to kick me down on the track.
iRunFar: That went through your head, didn’t it?
Bowman: It definitely did. I was looking over my shoulder the whole way. I’m just really, really happy I was willing to find that extra level of competitiveness and hang on at the end.
iRunFar: You weren’t just floating along all day. I saw you at the river and you didn’t look particularly hot. Were there any particularly low points?
Bowman: I had a pretty poor Cal Street again. I will be interested to see my splits. It wasn’t great. I’ve got to figure out why that is. I think most of it was the fact that I let myself get behind on calories and hydration there. I actually brought two bottles with me through Foresthill and then dropped one before I hit Cal Street. Then what would happen is I was drinking my whole bottle 10 minutes outside of each aid station and having to go 20 or 30 minutes without fuel or hydration. I can definitely improve that section. But like I said, I was just really consistent all day. I didn’t feel particularly awesome anywhere. I didn’t feel particularly terrible either. So overall it was a really solid and consistent day.
iRunFar: You ran a great time there yesterday, but you think there’s room for improvement. With a race like this under your belt, what does this give you confidence about what you think you could run on a decent weather day?
Bowman: I don’t know. It’s hard to put a number on it, but I think I can definitely run faster here. I don’t think I can run sub-15. Rob’s [Krar] race, it just boggles my mind. He put 20 minutes or something on me off Cal Street and it wasn’t like I was walking. When I got the report, it was like, How is that even possible? You know, there are little things I can change—fueling better on Cal Street, probably taking two bottles there. I think I can probably cut five or 10 more minutes off there. But, I’m not going to nitpick it too much. It was a good race.
iRunFar: Congratulations, Dylan. Great job finally getting on the podium for Western States.
Bowman: Thanks, yeah.
iRunFar: Before we go, what’s next on the calendar? Anything else coming up this summer?
Bowman: I definitely feel the need to take a nice, long break after this one. Ever since I blew my ankle out last year and got healthy again, I’ve been training and racing really, really hard. This is my sixth ultra in seven months. So I’m going to take some time off. I might go run Gary Robbins’s race in Squamish. I think my next real goal will probably be TNF 50 in December. So, maybe something else in between, but I’ll enjoy this.
iRunFar: Enjoy it. See you around.
Bowman: Thanks a lot.
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dylan Bowman after his… I’ve got to start over. You were third, weren’t you?
Bowman: I was third, yes.
iRunFar: I’m sleep deprived. Collect yourself, Powell. Hit it hard.
Bowman: Do you need some hydration?