Ten years after attending the Hardrock 100 for the first time, Dylan Bowman finally gets the chance to run the race. In the following interview, Dylan talks about how long and why he’s wanted to run Hardrock, how his own ultrarunning and his work in the sport interact, how he was able to temper his enthusiasm in training, and how he hopes to do same during the race.
Dylan Bowman Pre-2021 Hardrock 100 Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Bryon Powell of iRunFar here with Dylan Bowman before the 2021 Hardrock 100. How are you, Dylan?
Dylan Bowman: So good, man.
iRunFar: You seem so good.
Bowman: Good to be here. It’s been a long time coming. Just arrived in town. And yeah, on top of the world.
iRunFar: First things first, have you recovered from Western States coverage yet?
Bowman: Dude, honestly, like, that was one of the most amazing rewarding experiences of my entire career but also completely exhausting.
Bowman: And it did take, yeah, days to recover from. So now I know what you guys go through every race.
iRunFar: There you go.
Bowman: Renewed respect.
iRunFar: But you are feeling like you’re recovered.
Bowman: Well it’s so inspiring, man.
Bowman: It’s just like so incredible to have the front row seat the whole day and to be able to kind of like, you know, share my enthusiasm with the world and the race was incredible.
Bowman: So like, three weeks ago now I guess.
iRunFar: Sure doesn’t seem like that to me.
Bowman: I’ve recovered from the commentary and now I get to do it myself.
iRunFar: Perfect. Well, here you are in Silverton. How long have you wanted to run the Hardrock 100?
Bowman: So, my first time here was in 2011, so this is my 10 year anniversary but, you know, even before that, you know, as I was getting into the sport in 2008, 2009, of course it’s one of the first races you hear about. As a Colorado boy it’s always been at the top of the list. 2011 was incredible. I paced Joe Grant the last 30 miles in this direction. So from Telluride to the finish. He was having a complete vision quest sufferfest so I got to have a front row seat to that. And I’ve been back several times since. I’ve been in the lottery many, many times. Finally got pulled in December of 2018 and, have been looking at my watch ever since.
iRunFar: Got to marinate ever since that, yeah. So why do you want to run Hardrock? What is special about this, having been here a couple times, thought about it for a decade.
Bowman: I mean as a fan of the sport, a fan of the history of the sport, of course it’s just, it’s one of these races. If you love the sport, if you love the practice, you have to want to do it. Of course, like I said, my roots are here in Colorado, and arriving back in my home state just a few days ago, it was one of those feelings where you’re just like, I don’t know, just on a biological level I could just feel my body recognized that I was back, you know. It was probably what you feel like going back to Philly or whatever.
iRunFar: Oh, totally. A little reminder, like a convenience store or whatever. Like this is your spot.
Bowman: Exactly. So yeah, I feel really good about it, and just really happy to be here finally with the opportunity to do it and being 10 years ago that I paced it, and like was here for the first time, it’s kind of a fun sort of anniversary.
iRunFar: Does it kind of feel like a family at all? Like a family reunion for you?
Bowman: Totally. I mean I’ve been at the race probably five or six times in my career. I paced it, crewed it, spectated it. Of course, when I’m not here I’m following you guys the whole time for, you know, 40 hours, 48 hours. And, you know, so I have experienced that sort of Hardrock family that everybody talks about. And so now finally to be able to be on the start line and experience it from that side of things, I just, I just can’t freaking wait.
iRunFar: Nice. Well you don’t have to wait very long and you I assume have been putting in some pretty solid training. What does that look like for you this past couple months?
Bowman: You know, to be honest, I feel really good about my preparation but I didn’t do anything crazy. Didn’t do anything heroic. I set it up in a way where I, you know, in other races in my career, I sort of set up a similar preparation that I did the Backbone Trail back in May. That was probably nine or 10 weeks ago now. That was a 10 hour effort and that was very much to just rev the engine again. I haven’t raced since Transgrancanaria 2020. So, it’s been 18 months. So that was very much like, you know, hit the gas pedal, see where you’re at type of thing. I went really deep. It hurt a lot. And so I was a little worried that Hardrock was going to be painful, but after recovering and getting back to training, we went up to Mammoth and just sort of marched around in the mountains.
iRunFar: How long did you spend up there?
Bowman: Total of six weeks, but I really only did like two and a half bigger weeks of training. For me that’s always, I don’t know, like, I just feel energized, I feel fed, I feel acclimatized, but also like I have so much energy.
Bowman: And I feel very well rested. And actually I’ve been doing a lot of like, deep dives into the history and race reports, podcasts, and iRunFar interviews and like I’ve come across interviews with [Jason] Schlarb, Hal Koerner, Adam Campbell, who’ve all said like they arrived just feeling rested, like really rested, which is exactly how I feel, and it worked out for them and I sort of inadvertently did that. So it gave me a little bit more confidence.
iRunFar: It can be, it can be really hard, I think, with a race that you’ve been wanting to do for a decade, you got in almost three years ago. You could overcook yourself very easily.
Bowman: Yeah, so I was able to resist the temptation in Mammoth. I still did get out for a handful of huge days, you know, between 6-12 hour days.
iRunFar: And a couple in sequence as well.
Bowman: Exactly. So and that’s the other thing too, that I think really set me up. I did a three day sort of massive training block, and that was about, that was right before Western States. So three weeks ago now, and basically ever since then it’s been pretty moderate. I’ve basically done almost nothing for the last, you know, handful of days, except I did go up Virginia’s [Pass] from Telluride. And when I walked up there, just felt good at altitude, felt the energy, felt good about being back in Colorado. And I was just like alright, I’m done.
iRunFar: So for that three big three days, what’s the effort like, or what’s the intention when you’re going out there? Is it just to have three 8-10 hour days or is it, you know, one of the days or all of the days you’re pushing it? What does it look like?
Bowman: No, yeah, it’s very just like endurance pace time on feet type stuff, but of course like Harmony [Bowman, Dylan’s wife] has to come pick me up at different places and I don’t want to be out there, you know, a ridiculous amount of time so, but it was all low intensity, and you know, hiking, trying to simulate what race pace is going to be like out here.
iRunFar: Speaking of race pace, again even you anticipated you could have overdone it in training, how are you going to sort of restrain yourself, early in the race?
Bowman: Well I mean everybody says that, of course, like, Hardrock is such a hard race and you have to be conservative. And I think the other positive thing about being at Western States and watching that race is seeing the people who probably were a little bit too aggressive, really pay for it. And here, being a race that’s going to be, you know at least 9-10 hours longer than, you know, what I would expect to run at Western States, very much going to be trying to remain calm and subdued in the early hours, really the whole race.
iRunFar: Do you have any tricks to do that or anything to reinforce, because like you said, like with the training you can look back at the Schlarb or the Campbell, the Hal Koerner videos. Do you have any mantras or just touch points that you can go to on that?
Bowman: I think, just, you know, I’m an experienced runner and I’ve been, I’ve executed races perfectly. And I’ve also gone out too hard and really paid for it. And so, because I’m so happy and excited to be here, I really just want to take advantage of my opportunity, and I feel like being aggressive, being competitive is not going to help me. And also, you know as a fan of the sport, or somebody who knows the culture around Hardrock like, that’s not the spirit either, you know. So like I want to be out there and enjoying it and really like one of the things also that, that Hal said on iRunFar in his old race report from his 2012 victory, that he was just like, focused every mile, you know. So I just really want to be engaged, take in sort of feedback from, from my body, enjoying it as much as I can, and then hopefully yeah, like, I want to run fast, so. We’ll see.
iRunFar: So you’ve done a lot of big mountain 100s around the world: Transgrancanaria, Mount Fuji, UTMB. How do you think this will compare?
Bowman: You know, to be honest, I mean I know it’s going to be longer, harder, higher altitude, just slower, so. And one of the things that I’m sort of kicking myself about is that I didn’t come out and do a Softrock last year. I really feel like I should have. So I really, and when I paced here in 2011, I have very few memories of what the course was like. So outside of just doing Virginia’s Pass, which I did with Mike Foote in 2015, and also just this past week, I really don’t know anything about the course.
iRunFar: Now do you think there’s any advantage of that freshness or just joy of exploring that can be found out there on the course?
Bowman: I think definitely, definitely. So that’s what I’m telling myself for sure because I’ve been feeling like well, man, I wish I had at least some course knowledge. And I reached out to people who’ve run the race, and, you know they’ve been generous with information. So, yeah.
iRunFar: I don’t tend to ask about pacers or whatnot beforehand, but this is your debut here, and you say you don’t know the course particularly well. Who’s, who’s runner by your side late in the race to keep you, maybe guide you back on the tracks, generally.
Bowman: Speaking of being intelligent and racing within yourself and being measured, Tyler Green from Portland, Oregon and the second-place finisher Western States who ran an absolutely textbook race is going to take me Telluride to the finish, so he’ll do the final leg. Topher Gaylord is going to take me over Virginia’s Pass from Ouray to Telluride, and then I don’t have anybody for Grouse to Ouray so I’ll probably do that section solo.
iRunFar: Mm hmm. It should be daytime.
Bowman: Daytime, yeah. I totally feel comfortable doing that section solo. I didn’t feel comfortable doing the whole thing solo but really looking forward to spending time with both Topher and Tyler, who are great friends and people who are also experienced and great runners. So.
iRunFar: Just one more thing. I mean, over the past couple of years like currently doing as with Pyllars, has it, and you’re now also doing the similar podcast. You’re doing, you know, the Western States coverage. How do you balance working in the sport with also being a participant?
Bowman: I mean, for me it’s easy, you know. I don’t have to be, you know, a journalist or anything like that. Like I’m a fan. I’ve been truly a fan, and it’s one of, the things that I’m doing are things that are things that I would want to listen to or watch or whatever and as I get older and think about how I want to have an impact on the sport and be connected with the community and, and whatnot, it’s just really, it’s been really fun to sort of explore these different avenues, be a little bit more creative. And yeah, I mean like I still have ambitions to train and compete at a high level, and I feel like that’s still going to be the case for a while, but you know I am thinking a little bit more longer term now and just yeah like I said, thinking about different ways that I can contribute and, and I’ve just been having a ball messing around with that stuff. Yeah.
iRunFar: You can tell. I hope you have as much of a ball running the Hardrock 100 this coming week.