Tri State
Karsten Brown in 4:05:23. Benefitted from two early frontrunners taking a wrong turn and adding approximately 1.8 miles to their day. Brown took the lead and never let up his lead of 6 to 7 minutes.
Sophie Speidel led all female finishers back to Capon Valley Ruritan Club in 5:20:03 - good for 18th overall. In the photo, she was 2nd female entering Aid Station No. 3 at 14.4 miles.
Capon Valley 50K (31-mile) trail run
Wanting to or not, Brown cruises to Capon Valley 50K victory
Speidel leads competitive women’s field to finish

By Kevin Spradlin

YELLOW SPRING, W.Va. - Karsten Brown is a runner with a mixed blessing.

He’s both fast and steady enough to be at or near the front of the pack in virtually any distance event over seven miles he chooses to race. But even on days he’s not expected to contend - by his own standards and expectations - the 35-year-old Front Royal, Va., resident is a crowd favorite to vye for the win.

Brown used a little of both elements - and a little bad fortunate by two other contenders - to take his first-ever Capon Valley 50K (31-mile) trail run that started and finished at the serene Capon Valley Ruritan Club.

Brown finished in 4 hours, 5 minutes and 23 seconds - 7:31 ahead of runner-up Matt Woods, 29, of Falls Church, Va. (4:12:54). Sean Andrish, 39, of Leesburg, Va., was third in 4:22:10.

Sophie Speidel, 46, of Charlottesville, Va., led all women to the finish line with a time of 5:20:03. Heather Schaffer, 38, of Potomac Falls, Va., was second in 5:26:08 while Alisa Springman, 34, of Mercersburg, Pa., took third in 5:30:27.

Countless hills, mud, bugs, nearly two dozen stream crossings and humidity didn’t stop 126 runners from finishing in less than the allotted eight hours. But Brown, who is preparing for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100-miler next weekend, overcome those obstacles better than anybody else.

“I don’t know where the speed came from,” Brown said. “4:27 was my best time here. I guess it’s all the training (readying for the 100-miler).”

Yes, it probably helps to have regular four-hour runs leading up to a day-long affair. It also helps when the two early frontrunners, Woods and Andrish, both added approximately 1.8 miles to their already challenging day.

Brown, far enough behind in the first third of the race to not be able to correct their error at the time, said he realized they were off when he was going one way and came across both men - who were traveling in the opposite direction.

“It was kind of hard to see those turns, hard to see they were there,” Brown said of a mostly very well-marked course.

Brown thought it was a race for third place - he only wanted to improve on his PR of 4:27.

“Then I see them coming the other way,” Brown said. “They decided to back track. It was pretty honest of them to do that.”

Brown acknowledged they two ultra runners could just have easily picked up the right path where they were and no one - except themselves - would have been the wiser.

From Woods comments minutes after crossing the finish line, it was clear that never was an option.

“We were supposed to make a left, but went right,” said Woods, who won the HAT 50K trail run on March 21 in Susquehanna State Park in Maryland.

Woods said he expected to catch up to Brown but the distance - and Brown’s pace - were too great of a combination to overcome.

“I was surprised how fast he was,” Woods said of Brown.

It’s likely Woods and Brown will meet up again sometime in the near future - but not next week. Woods, a former smoker and drinker who battled weight problems, has been running for less than four years.

As in the past, this 11th annual event benefited the Capon Springs Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, the Capon Valley Ruritan Club and, a nonprofit organization that helps people move through grief, trauma and loss.

Kevin is an aging runner (aren’t we all?) and can be contacted at He resides in Ellerslie, Md., with his wife and two children.

Results   Photos    Set 1   Set 2