Meet Ultra Trail Runner & Gravel Racer Taylor Nowlin

By Dave Zabriskie, Floyd’s of Leadville

When most of us look at the Grand Canyon, we feel small next to its incredible scale. Just looking over the edge can get your heart rate up. But apparently this isn’t the case for Taylor Nowlin, who looked down into the vast abyss and thought “I think I can run down there.” Not only did she run down, she also ran back up the other side and then turned around and did the whole thing again.

Nowlin bagged the fastest known time for the rim-to-rim-to-rim last year just weeks after the record had fallen. “What’s crazy is that I wasn’t training for it and never had any intention of doing it,” she told us. “I was training for the North face 50 miler in Marin when it got cancelled due to fires, and like a lot of other people, found myself at peak fitness but without a race to run. So I returned to Flagstaff and tried to think of what the next coolest thing was.”

It turned out that the next coolest thing was running across the Grand Canyon, twice, the day before Thanksgiving. Cool, it turns out, is an understatement. “It was way way colder than expected and I got really chilled and my eyes had trouble. My plan was to get to North Kaibab [the turn around point] and then kick into it in the second half. I started to lose my eyesight, everything fuzzed over, I couldn’t see my watch and so all my splits went out the window. It became a lot more unique and I just turned into this whole new gear of running on feel and appreciating where I was and push my body. My defining moment was the climb up South Kaibab, I was just in so much pain. I had no idea if I was going to make the mark, if I was going to miss it.”

She did make it, but only found out when someone else was able to read her watch for her. It was three hours later when she was finally able to read again, and plenty of congratulatory texts were awaiting her.

We can’t all be as fast as Taylor, but she thinks that ultrarunning is a welcoming sport for anyone. Newcomers should “find people who inspire and are better than you. My entire ultra running career has been really heavily shaped by the people I’ve had the opportunity to learn from. Finding that mentorship is huge and so is learning to listen to you your body and not go too hard too soon. It is really easy to get super psyched and do too much and get injured. Listening to your body and not being afraid to back off and take more rest than you might want to is really vital. That has helped me continue to love and focus on the longevity of my love for the sport.” After all, even when you’re as fast as Taylor “ The whole point is to have fun.”

Nowlin is all about having fun, which is why she’ll be throwing in some gravel bike races this year. “I’m really getting into gravel racing and super psyched about that. I want to do Rebecca’s Private Idaho and explore the gravel scene, and really enjoy balancing the two sports while figuring out how to train for both. It has given me a lot of balance in my workouts.”

When she’s recovering from huge runs and rides, Nowlin turns to CBD. “Recovering well is just as important as training, if not more. My college coach always told me to focus on little things. I like to get a lot more massages and work on sore muscles with Balms, which feel amazing on my legs. I can do a hard workout, take a shower, apply Balm and feel better the next day. I also try and take a Tincture before bed as another part of my recovery routine.”

We can’t promise that even the best recovery will get you across the Grand Canyon as fast as Taylor, but it’ll certainly help you have more fun.