Dylan Bowman returns to the Bay Area to run the TNF 50 for the first time since 2015. In the following interview, Dylan talks about his history with the race, why he stepped away from it for a few years, why this has been a rough year for him, and how he’s feeling now.
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dylan Bowman before the 2019 TNF 50. How are you doing, Dylan?
Dylan Bowman: Good. Good to see you.
iRunFar: Yeah. You are back in your former home of Mill Valley. What is it like to get back?
Bowman: It’s so good, man. I mean this place is heaven and this is one of the highlights of the year every year whether I’m racing or not, and this year I obviously have a chance to run again, so it’s great to be back.
iRunFar: And you have been coming here for a long time. Was 2012 your first time here?
Bowman: Yeah, 2012 was my first one. I raced, this will be my fifth 50-mile race. I did the marathon once. I’ve basically been here every year since at least 2012.
iRunFar: Yeah. And those four years in a row you did the 50 mile with good success. Seventh, fifth, fifth, and second, I believe.
iRunFar: And then you took two years off. Just trying to change things up or what was the reasoning behind that?
Bowman: Yeah, I think it was just sort of like doing it four years in a row, just take a couple years off. Obviously tried to come back last year, but we were thwarted with the wildfires. So like I said this is one of my favorite races. It’s a course that I think that has always like, suited me, and a race that I love to run. So yeah it was nothing more than taking a couple years off. I was still here, obviously. I lived in Mill Valley so I came to the race to enjoy the spectator perspective, but it’ll be good to be back.
iRunFar: For a number of years you kind of had, I mean you also had Western States all those years. It kind of seemed like you had a,
Bowman: I did have a bit of a routine going.
iRunFar: It was probably nice to break that routine.
Bowman: It was.
iRunFar: So it’s been a couple years but you’ve had great success here. You think it matches your strengths. How so?
Bowman: I don’t know. I think at least early in my career I had a lot of success in the sort of hilly but still pretty runnable 50 mile courses. You know, like Sean O’Brien I did well at. You know, The North Face Bear Mountain [NY] I did well at, I did well here. A few other 50s, Ray Miller, things like that. So just like, I don’t know, seems to suit me. The climbs are long enough to where you can get in a groove and not so long to where it becomes a little bit more of a strength or grinder race. It sort of mixes the speed and strength, which I think suits me well.
iRunFar: Cool. This year you had a rough year. I mean you admit it.
iRunFar: You’re open about that.
Bowman: Oh, of course.
iRunFar: What’s going on?
Bowman: Well, mean where do we start?
iRunFar: Hong Kong?
Bowman: Sort of this time last year, I mean really before TNF race last year, I was due to race, but I wasn’t really feeling great before the race. And then that sort of turned into getting really sick at Hong Kong [100k]. Having a couple you know, pretty serious injuries and just generally not,
iRunFar: Not even overuse injuries. Trauma.
Bowman: Yeah, I had a serious ankle injury. I had separated my shoulder. And just generally wasn’t feeling like myself for most of the year. But you know I’ve been so lucky in my career being injury free for basically ten years, and it seems that all that good luck came back to bite me this year. Working off some karma somehow. But yeah, as athletes we all work through that kind of stuff. For me, it’s really been a learning experience having not really gone through that. Sort of developing the tools to deal with it better.
iRunFar: It seemed like at least for a while it was hard for you mentally.
Bowman: Yeah, it’s just brutal, man. You know how it goes. You know me. I just love being out there. I love being part of it. And when you’re sort of like, you find so much joy in it and you can’t do it and it seems like your body is just not allowing you to do what you love. I think it’s something everybody sort of deals with as athletes and for me it was no different. Like I said, I’ve been lucky up to this point so.
iRunFar: I mean for the first couple of years you were the lacrosse guy coming out and running ultras, but it seems like it really became part of your identity as well.
Bowman: Well that, too. And that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned is, you know, before I was a lacrosse player even, I still was always an athlete. That’s always been who I am and how I earn my friends and gotten social recognition and it’s always been who I am. At a certain point you kind of forget you also do it because you love it, not because people like your Instagram photos or you get trophies or whatever. And so for me that’s been the biggest thing over the last few months is reconnecting with that. I don’t know how fit I am or whatever but I love to do this and I’m psyched to be healthy and fit enough to give it a shot this weekend.
iRunFar: And you are on the upswing with your fitness. You’ve had a couple smaller races up in Oregon, your new home, the last couple, like last month. It’s been good, right?
Bowman: Yeah, like honestly I feel pretty good. It’s hard to say. Fitness-wise I feel pretty strong. Because I haven’t done a lot of racing this season it’s difficult to say how that will translate on Saturday, but certainly I know I can get through the distance. I’m hoping that the extra rest and motivation will help me. I’m hoping everybody else is really tired. The one thing I do kind of lack a little bit is more of that race experience. Usually, I like to have a couple harder races in me before I target something like this, and also just the confidence in my body, I’m still trying to regain that. But I have no excuses, you know. I feel fit enough and healthy enough and I’m definitely going to go hard.
iRunFar: Hopefully, you’re out there on one of these ridges on Saturday and it just clicks, right?
Bowman: It just clicks. That’s what I’m hoping. That would be ideal.
iRunFar: Right on. Well it’s good to see you back out here, Dylan, and good luck on Saturday.
Bowman: Thanks, Bryon.
The second article in a two-part series about the hip-hinge position for efficient running.