I live in Seattle. I slosh around in the rain on Tiger Mountain all winter. I thought I knew mud; I was wrong. The Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass 50K introduced me to a new level of slipping, sliding, and splashing that I had never before experienced in a run.
The Capitol Peak Mega Fat Ass
As a “mega” fat ass, this wasn’t a totally self-supported fun run. There was registration ($10), waivers, numbers, and water-only aid stations (well, the last one also had beer and tequila – I ran away from that one quickly). I also think some folks treated it a little more like a race, instead of just a fun run with a ton of friends (to each their own).
My plan was to run REALLY slowly. After the crowd took off at the start, I eventually found my friends Paul and Luke and settled in with them. We were running a bit faster than I was shooting for, but it was fun to run with good company – and the course was much more runnable than I was expecting.
The first half of the course was mostly uphill, but a pretty modest grade. We managed to keep running most of the way up to Capitol Peak, approximately half way. There were a few slick spots and a lot of puddles, but nothing too tricky. The trails were pretty straightforward, not too technical, and went through alternating forest and clear-cuts. The rain kept coming and it stayed pretty dark (hence the horrible quality of the pictures I managed to take).
There’s a big out-and-back to the mid-point of the race with a very small loop at the end of that. I commented to the guys that there must’ve been a lot of early starters, since it seemed like a lot of people were coming back from the turnaround before we got there. Aparently my navigation skills are just horrible. We had been heading back towards the start for a while and I was just seeing people still heading out to the turnaround. Sometimes it’s good to be wrong!
Through about 20 miles, I thought this might be a 50K PR, despite the fact that Luke, Paul, and I were running at a relatively relaxed pace together. And then the mud happened. We hit a totally new kind of mud. Up to this point, the ground was wet, but firm, with occasional deep puddles. Now, we got deep, thick, slick mud. It was the kind of stuff that almost pulls your shoes off with every step. It totally coated and stuck to the bottom of my shoes, meaning there was no more traction on the trail. Any slight uphill became a huge obstacle. There was a four foot slope that ended up taking hands-on-the-ground (in the mud), looking for roots to pull on, in order to get to the top.
The sliding from side to side also took its toll on all the stability muscles. My hips and sides quickly fatigued and, combined with the general early-season lack of fitness, the wheels came off.
After getting out of the mud pit, with about seven miles to go, we hit a never-ending uphill gravel road. While it was a welcome change to not spend every step trying not to fall, there was no more juice left to climb with any reasonable pace.
We hit the last aid station with a little less than five miles to go. Out of a sense of self-preservation, I took the lead and set the pace. It was a pace I like to call “let’s just get this over with.” It’s not fast, but it’s faster than I feel like I want to run, knowing that the quicker I get to the finish, the quicker I get to stop running!
With a half-mile to go, Paul pushed ahead a little and finished just of me and Luke. We all managed to sneak in under six hours, which was actually pretty quick for the day.
Apparently there was also some drama with the finish order at the front. It was a great reminder of why I’m glad I’m not fast enough to be up at the front. It’s nice to not worry about that stuff.
The Bottom Line
It sounds miserable and, honestly, the conditions really were. The company was great, though. Getting to spend quality time on the trail with friends is a big part of why I do this stuff, so I’m glad Luke, Paul, and I were able to stick together. It was nice that it wasn’t a “real race”, so there was less pressure. I was glad to see Team Seven Hills friends Korey Konga and Jordan Maki-Richards out there, flying down the course. Ethan Linck also had a stellar race, which we got to grill him about on the carpool back to Seattle.