Capitol Peak 50 Mile Race Report – Nick Keenan

Race: Capitol Peak 50 miler

Runner: Nick Keenan

Race Date: 04/23/2022

Location: Capital Forest near Olympia, WA

Results: 10:20:45

Strava Activity Link:

Photo: Calvin Kuo

3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?

  • Course — beautiful, varying terrain and flora, trail was in great condition, and amazing views and overlooks. Very little forest-road as part of the course. Snow on the course!
  • Great race management, volunteers and aid stations — RD was amazing. Volunteers knew what they were doing and were encouraging. Aid stations were well stocked and had a great variety.
  • Easy to get to, and economically priced – thirty minutes SW from Olympia, on well maintained forest roads. $50 for a 50 miler?! No short-cuts taken by the RD, it was well done.

Not so much – Aspects of the race that didn’t do it for you

  • It’s a working forest, so there are sections of clear-cut timber.
  • It’s a multi-use forest, so there was shooting-range noises and motorbikes
  • There was an overlap section with the 25k racers, where they were going downhill and the 50 milers are going uphill — overlapping for several miles (and you as the 50 miler interrupt your climb to step to the side to let them by)

Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?

A foot of snow for a few miles, RD told us about it the week before, but surprising to find that much at 2600′ in late-April!

Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?

Parts of the course you could see for miles — see the next part of the course wayyyy over in the distance, great view of Mt Rainier and the surrounding area.

Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner

  • It’s a runnable course, with only one longish climb.
  • Run your own race the first 20-mile section.
  • Save something for the mostly-downhill final 7 miles of the course.
  • Temperature varies on the course quite a bit – exposed clear-cut areas, northern side of the ‘peak’ with snow, shadowy forest sections, etc.

Lessons you learned that will help you next time around

  • Be faster at the aid station at mile 20, which is the starting line — I had stuff in my car, so I had to get my keys out, and it took too much time.
  • Bring sun protection – some pretty exposed areas.
  • I didn’t use poles — not sure if the one long climb makes them worthwhile.

Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race

  • Not much aid the first 20 miles – water only at mile 6.
  • Miles 27-43 are mostly flat / rolling, with an out-and-back 9 mile section which is nice to get a snapshot of where other runners are relative to you — before starting the 7 mile descent to the finish. 6 AM start had plenty of daylight to not need a headlamp.

Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?

Really pretty. Mossy old growth forest, streams, drier bushy slopes, great overlooks and views of the surrounding area.

Difficulty – Is it a tough course?

~7,000 climbing. Trail is relatively well groomed, with few roots and rocks to watch for. Most downhills were gradual and very runnable.

Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?

Really well organized. Brief pre-race meeting 5 minutes before the start. Well marked course. Great volunteers. 6 AM start.

Competition – Is there a strong field?

Small 50 mile field — 35 finishers, 9 DNF, 9 DNS. 73 25k racers who start at 9 AM.

Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.

Camping available at the start – plenty of space. Well maintained forest roads to get there.

Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?

Standard stuff.

Weather and typical race conditions

April in the PNW, lucked out with no rain.

Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?

Need to carry water & calories for the first 15.5 miles. Otherwise, aid stations 3-6 miles apart.

Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?

Not really.

How’s the Swag?

Not much.

The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
4.5 stars.

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