On a typical day, the drive from Aspen to Denver, Colorado takes about four hours. In 2008, it took Dylan Bowman a bit longer when he made a scheduled stop. He paused in Breckenridge to run the Breck Crest Mountain Marathon, his first. He signed up for this particular race because it was en route from his home in Aspen to Denver where he was meeting up with friends to party at a football game. He trained for two weeks, finished the marathon in third place and then continued on to Denver.
“I was completely wrecked by it,” Dylan said. “ I then went and partied all afternoon. But I realized the marathon was actually very hard, but it was fun, and I finished in the top 10, which was pretty surprising.”
Dylan always knew he was a good runner, but before he entered the world of marathons and ultra-marathons, he had no idea just how good. Today, his list of accomplishments in the ultra-running scene is a hypnotizing list of names, dates and locations: 1st place at The North Face 100k in Australia, 2nd place at the Hardrock 100 in Colorado, 3rd place at the Western States 100 in California, two-time winner at Ultra Trail Mount Fuji in Japan, 2nd place at UTMB TDS in France, and two 1st place finishes at the Tarawera Ultramarathon in New Zealand.
This list leaves out all mention of setting course records or noting other incredible efforts like finishing 17th at the Grand Raid de la Réunion in the Reunion Islands in 2021, notoriously one of the toughest 100-mile ultra marathons in the world.
When Dylan signed up for his first marathon in 2008 with two weeks until race day, he had never run competitively. Growing up in the mountains of Colorado, he was always riding a bike and in college he played lacrosse. Now after a decade in the sport of ultrarunning, Dylan is consistently dominating the front of the pack.
“Going back to my lacrosse days in college, my role on the team was to be the hustle guy,” Dylan said. “I was the dude who covered ground on the field, who hustled for ground balls. I basically gained a reputation as someone who doesn't get tired.”
This endurance talent transitioned seamlessly into Dylan’s career as an ultrarunner. After he graduated and lacrosse ended, he missed the structure of going to practice and started running to keep fit and gain back a bit of that routine. “Then I started learning about these competitions and since I’d always been an athlete, I started performing well and everything snowballed,” Dylan said. “I think I have a natural talent for it and a natural enjoyment of it.”
Dylan’s performances since the moment he stepped into the competitive running arena have been astonishing. Even at peak-fitness, most athletes wouldn’t sign up for a marathon with two weeks to prepare and finish, let alone come in third place. But Dylan points out that running, and more specifically ultrarunning, aren’t out of reach to anyone, including inexperienced runners. Dylan sends anyone who needs proof of this to the finish line of a race with an hour before the cutoff time left on the clock.
“It's really one of the most emotionally riveting things in all of sports, I think,” Dylan said. “When you go, you see a bunch of normal people who aren't professional who do it simply for a personal challenge. You see human beings who aren’t any more special or less special than you. For people who think that it’s impossible, I would encourage them to open their minds and go sit at the finish line at one of these races. These are people, just like me, and anybody who has the desire can do it. It’s not easy, but it’s definitely doable.”
Dylan’s enjoyment of the sport reaches far beyond the race itself. Some of his competitors have become dear friends and he’ll quickly point out the support he relies on from his wife, family and sponsors. Beyond that, Dylan is focused on the community of ultrarunning and founded an outlet to bring runners together. Freetrail is Dylan’s solution to what he always found was missing from the sport - a strong, dedicated community and strong content to match.
It’s difficult to succinctly encapsulate everything that Freetrail is. It’s a training app, a podcast, interactive training programs, documentaries, short videos with training tips, workout videos, yoga flows designed for runners and a whole bunch more. It’s every piece of content Dylan wished he had when he was a novice in the world of competitive ultra trail running.
“This is something that I have a tremendous amount of enthusiasm and passion for, and after years of being an athlete in trail and ultra-running, I guess I would say I was somewhat dissatisfied with the content offering,” Dylan said.
Freetrail is also an opportunity to learn from fellow runners. “We want Freetrail to be the destination for people to get inspired and for anyone who wants information and who wants to be part of a community,” Dylan said.
It’s up to Dylan, and each individual runner, to keep propelling forward, getting one step closer to the finish line with every second that passes. It’s a single name on the race registration form and a single individual who crossed the finish line, but ultra running is never an individual sport. Dylan relies on a community of support, his fellow competitors, and Freetrail. We’re stoked to welcome Dylan into our team of Gnarly athletes who are Pushing their Possible.