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Capon Valley 50K, A Rite of Spring

rite noun

1: a prescribed form or manner governing the words or actions for a ceremony 
2: a ceremonial act or action 
synonyms: observance, ritual

Capon Valley
50K means that Spring is here in earnest. There'll be no more of Winter's cold, dreary days. From here on out, there'll be a few amazing, low humidity, sunshiney, glad-to-be-alive days before it feels like a sauna and the mosquitoes are out in force.

The trees here put on a lush show of greenery, that brilliant hue that fades as summer approaches.
The weather is usually pleasant and cool. It often rains a little, and this year was no exception. As I cranked out the last two miles, a  light drizzle began and spurred me onward. It didn't last long, clearing up before I had tucked away my post-race chicken dinner.

The course has a little of everything. Woods. Dirt trails. Gravel roads where you can put the hammer down.

A whole lot of hills.

Elevation chart. Ups and glorious downs!
A section of trail early in the race. It crosses the stream to the left a few times.
No one has ever finished this race with dry feet.
And stream crossings. Eleventy-thousand of them.

I knew I wouldn't be running a PR this year. Instead I spent the day grateful: for the glorious weather, the friends who kept me laughing and chatting and moving along, the beauty surrounding me and the ability to run this challenging course.

The course includes some gravel road sections.
Every year I tell myself I'll try more new races, but in early April, I find myself signing up for this one again.

This was my fifth visit to Capon Valley, and I'll probably run it again next year.

Why do I keep returning? Maybe it's the time of year, maybe it's the fact that one can only run most of this course once a year, as it covers a lot of private land. Maybe it's the people.

This beautiful section of trail comes after the last big climb. Six miles to go.
The horse folks just over the border in West Virginia aren't ultrarunners, but they sure know how to put on a great run.

The aid stations are well-stocked. The volunteers are warm, friendly, quick to offer assistance and always know the distance of the next section.

There are outdoor showers at the finish line, and you can even pitch a tent then night before the race.

The chicken dinner at the end (included in your race fee!) is cooked up behind the Ruritan Club. The smell is amazing. And, there's homemade pie!

I have resolved to do a little more training for my next ultra. Really. Now that I'm feeling fully healed, I need to buckle down and improve. My plan: increase my mileage overall, invest more time in tempo runs, add some interval training, and specifically work on my hill climbing skills.

I'm not usually a morning runner, but I intend to start that habit. I don't mind getting up, it's getting out the door that's tough for me. Any other lollygaggers out there have suggestions?

Photo from a few years ago. I have no idea whom to credit.


  1. That looks beautiful! I'll have to head out to the east sometime to run one of those ultras. And you can come to CO. (I'm moving in September).

  2. What an awesome run - I love getting back to nature - the course looks beautiful! Great job!

  3. I plan happy hours that force me to get up and go the morning of since I can't do my running AND my drinking. (are you suprised?)

  4. Such great photos! The trail looks amazing.

    Early mornings. Keep your shoes right by your bed and put them on before going anywhere, even the bathroom. Get dressed, everything but your shirt. Put that on your front doorknob. You'll (maybe) feel weird walking around in just the sports bra and go for the door. Once your hand is on the door, it's up to you to open it. I can only help get you there but I have a feeling you can do it!

  5. WOW! That's gorgeous!! I'm so glad that you're consistently running again. How awesome!

  6. Lovely, lovely, lovely—both the photos and your description of why this race symbolizes spring in all its glory. Almost makes that crazy-looking elevation map seem worth it!

  7. Wow, this looks like an amazing course! Spring in the mountains is marvelous. I'll have to put this one on the calendar for next year. I struggle with that "get out the door" problem for morning running too...it's definitely easier now that it's warmer and lighter. And feels so good when you do it! I lay out my clothes, fill my water bottle and keep it in the fridge and just keep reminding myself how great it will feel once I'm out the door. Good luck!


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