Santa Barbara, California — For runner Taylor Nowlin, to say that 2018 was a breakout year would be more than an understatement. Competing in a slew of strong fields at several big races, the newest member of the rabbitPRO team never finished off the podium and took home wins at the Behind the Rocks 50k in Utah and the Flagstaff to Grand Canyon 55k in Arizona, where she finished fourth overall. Nowlin’s second place finish at the prestigious Lake Sonoma 50 Miler also earned her a coveted Golden Ticket to the Western States Endurance Run, although she declined the opportunity in order to keep her focus on shorter distances for the time being.
The plan was for Nowlin’s season to culminate at the ultra-competitive North Face Endurance Challenge 50 in November, but that race was cancelled due to smoke from California’s devastating Camp Fire. Although she had put a lot of work into preparing for the race, Nowlin remained positive and started getting creative. “Honestly, there are many more disappointing things going on in the world than TNF being cancelled. I feel lucky to have a home, be healthy and able to race in the first place! However, I did work really hard arrive at TNF fit, so my coach and I started thinking up alternative ways to end the season on a high note as soon as we heard the news.”
Ultimately, Nowlin arrived at the same conclusion as fellow runners Ida Nilsson and rabbitPRO teammate Sandi Nypaver, who decided that the cool late-November conditions would make for a good time to attempt a double crossing of the Grand Canyon. The journey from Rim to Rim to Rim requires runners to traverse 42 miles of punishing trails, gaining over 12,000 feet of elevation along the way. Due to the iconic nature of the challenge and the spectacular setting, the R2R2R route has attracted many of the best ultrarunners in the world during recent years, each of them hoping to snag the coveted Fastest Known Time (FKT) for the route.
Running with no pacer and despite brutal conditions—which led to impaired eyesight for Nowlin—she covered the distance in 7 hours and 25 minutes, shaving almost 5 minutes off of Nilsson’s freshly minted mark, securing the FKT as her own and, needless to say, ending the season on a high note.
With big plans for 2019—which include the FOURmidable 50k in February plus a return trip to Lake Sonoma in April—Nowlin is looking to incorporate more strength work into her training, but is cautious not to overdo it. “I know lifting is key for injury prevention. It’s also really important to me to keep things fun and avoid putting too much pressure on myself. For me that means flexible training that incorporates cross training days on my bike or skis, and a diet that includes cookies!”Logging lots of long days on the roads and trails, Nowlin demands a lot of her running apparel, so choosing the right partner was critical. “Realistically I don’t just sweat in my running clothes, I live in them—so finding a perfectly cut short that I can wear all day long is worth a lot to me. I saw some of my competitors wearing rabbit, I always heard good things and I loved the style, so I reached out!” For Nowlin, learning that the company had been founded by two women, both avid runners, and that the apparel was designed and manufactured in the U.S. was “the icing on the cake” in forging ahead with the new partnership.