Capitol Peak 50-miler Race Report

Capitol Peak 50-miler Race Report

This past Sunday April 25, 2010 I raced the Capitol Peak 50-mile ultra marathon up in the forests just south of Olympia, Washington. I know...I've been racing a lot out here in the Pacific's easy to do especially when you're new to the area and so enthusiastic to explore areas that look like they could be in Trailrunner Magazine. I was a tiny bit tentative going into the race mostly because this run would be the longest effort since I ran the second 50-miles of 100 in the Hood on an injured leg last September. In that race on the PCT I started feeling the injury right around mile 47 so I wanted to test the waters this past weekend as I'm gearing up for Bighorn 100 on June 18th.

I scouted out the area this past February at the Capitol Peak 30-miler so I had a basic knowledge of the area even though the 50-mile course was slightly different and obviously longer. My confidence in finishing strongly was fueled by the number of races that I have successfully competed in so far, and the stout training runs I've put forth out in the gorge this past winter and spring. It was now time to push the I so much like to do!

One of my training partners/friend/neighbor named Nick Triolo decided to join me for the weekend as he is prepping for his first 100-miler this fall at Pine to Palm 100. This would be another opportunity for us to experiment everything from nutrition/hydration to mind control techniques, and to remind our bodies what it feels like to cover 50-miles on foot. We decided to head up Saturday afternoon and set up camp as the weekend was looking pretty good. Also, the race started at 6am on Sunday so it was nice to wake up basically at the starting line.

I probably looked like I was about to climb Mt. Everest or something based on everything that I brought to the race. About 3/4 of the way to our destination despite all of my OCD-like obsessing I realized that I forgot my amphipod water bottle waist belt thingy. It was one of the most important things that I needed for the weekend and I left it sitting at home. I tried to brush it off and improvise as we rolled into the running store in Olympia to pick up our race packet. I ended up buying a much needed new hand-held bottle and a little waist pouch and we made our way to the campsite to set up.

When we found the open field that was designated for runners who were camping we saw our buddy Alex Henry setting up his tent. We joined him and were all really excited about the race that was like 12 hours away from starting. Alex is coming off a win up at Orcas Island and I knew he was a strong runner and would be one of the front runners despite his complaints of a recalcitrant hip and sartorius over the past several weeks. There were a couple of others that I had in mind too including my travel partner Nick who has been running a lot and well lately.

So we "carbed-up" one final time and hit the hay for a few hours and 4 am rolled around very quickly. We made our way to the starting line as the sun shed light on some familiar faces...Matt Carrell, who I ran with in the February run (who gobbled up my win when I took a wrong turn at mile 28), Justin Angle who is a strong and experienced ultra runner, Pam Smith, Paul, Ryne Melcher and a few others that looked fit and ready to roll..
(a little fog hiding the top of Capitol Peak)

The first section of the race was almost identical to the February race and we took it out hard. The 50-milers and 55k runners started at the same time and Matt Carrell, Ryne Melcher (who was running 55k), and I were rattling off 7-minute miles on the singletrack leading us to the base of Capitol Peak. I had sort of a strategy to take off pretty hard to attempt to run some guys into the ground early on. At around mile 16 or so my tactic started working as Matt was slowed by some cramping. Simultaneously Alex Henry caught up to me as I was power hiking the very steep Capitol Peak. As we hit the summit I tried to make another sly move.

Alex stopped for a drop bag and was changing his shirt or something and I had enough water and food for the lollipop loop so I kicked it up a notch and blew through the aid station. I really liked this section of trails as it undulated and snaked all over the forest up high on the ridge. Shortly after Alex caught up though!...I guess his hip was feeling ok :o) For the next 20 miles Alex and I must have switched the lead 20 times. We chatted, we laughed, we grunted, moaned, and pushed each other at a blistering pace. At mile 36 Alex said to me, "however this race ends up Yassine I will never forget this". I felt the same way. It was like we were competing against each other but also helping each other at the same time.

(a little singletrack out on the course)

I honestly thought that we probably had like a 10-20 minute lead on the rest of the pack. The way down from the peak was fast and I was hitting some banked turns at a dangerous pace. When we hit the last aid station at like mile 40 or so my other buddy and training partner Trevor Hostetlor filled me up with some nuun and sent me on my way. I was about 30 seconds behind Alex at this point and could still see him. A few minutes afterwards after downing another clif block shot I had this feeling that I was going to throw up. I haven't vomited yet in a race but this was the closest I came. It forced me to slow down considerably but I kept plodding along.

Around mile 47 I pretty much accepted that I wasn't going to catch Alex and I came to a little fork in the trail. I stopped briefly to take a pee and was just looking around at the beauty and was feeling so thankful that I was almost finished...and that I had no pain whatsoever ( injurious pain!). Then all of the sudden I see a runner go flying past down the trail! At first I thought maybe it was a 55k runner but then as he got closer I realized that it was Justin Angle who now just moved into second place! I put in a hard surge for like one minute and I pulled up behind him relatively speaking and said, "strong running padre!"...he said, "you too my man" and just as he said that my hammy started to cramp up. I slowed, Justin disappeared and I said, "well 3rd place it is...IF I can hold on!"

I really focused on a strong but even stride. I think I used up all my surging muscle twitch fibers by mile 48 and I'd be lying if I said I didn't look over my shoulder those last couple miles. I came into the finish area in 3rd place overall with a time of 6:41 which was a huge pr for me in the 50-mile distance. It really was an epic race and I heard of many doing the same as far as pr'ing goes. The course wasn't exactly flat and fast boasts about 6,500 feet of climbing and there were some mucky spots and technical rocky sections that slowed us down too. I wore my Inov-8 x-talons 212's again and so did Nick. We both agreed that it was perfect for the day and they held up nicely for 50-miles. Justin wore the Roclite 295's and was very happy with them as well. It'll probably be between those two shoes that I will choose to wear for Bighorn coming up in June.

It was apparent that race director John Pearch and the volunteers put a lot into marking this course. It actually was up there with the best marked trail course I've ever run. I didn't even have to use my map! ;o) We enjoyed some excellent veggie chili post race as I wrapped myself in Linda's ultra blankie. It was so nice to see friends and meet many of you and to trade stories of our "vision quest" out in the forest this past weekend.

I was quite satisfied with my performance and it will be a big confidence booster as I hit peak training for Bighorn in the upcoming weeks. More will be revealed and for those of you that pushed yourself this weekend...well done!

Full results are posted HERE !

Happy Trails!!!


From the time I could stand upright I was chasing soccer balls around with older children at the fields where my father...

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