Saturday, Jun 29, 2024 @ 5:00 AM

The John Cappis

Silverton, CO 50K, 19hrs

This Event Took Place Sat. Jun 29, 2024

When and Where

Saturday, June 29, 2024 starting at 5 am. The course, and the exact start location, will depend on snow and stream conditions.


A mountaineering jaunt originated by James Varner in honor of the legendary John Cappis, one of the founders of the Hardrock 100. The course gets tweaked from year to year, but here is the fundamental idea:

  • Summit several of the peaks surrounding Silverton
  • Unmarked course (gps track provided)
  • Mostly off-trail
  • Approximately 50k and 19,000 ft of elevation gain
  • Elevations ranging from 9,300 ft to 13,300 ft
  • 19 hour cutoff
  • Get credit for however far you get within the 19 hours

Before You Register

This trek is open only to applicants meeting both of the following requirements:

  • Members of the Sky Pilots Endurance Navigators. You can join here.
  • Qualified participants with suitable mountain experience (see the next couple sections for more details)
If you do decide to register, please sign up for the 19-hour division (the 50k has been capped at zero entrants and is mainly there for continuity with past results).

Not a Normal Run

There just aren't very many treks in this category:

  • The 50k is intended to be nearly impossible to finish within the time allowed (fourteen finishers so far over a five year history)
  • Experience with off-trail travel in burly mountains like the San Juans is required and pretty much essential to safely attempting this course
  • There are numerous hazards to a run like this and participation should not be taken lightly (some years we have required ice axes and traction devices)
  • Support is very limited compared to a normal ultra-type event (some calories and fluids at a couple very basic checkpoints)
  • Much of the course is remote. Rescue, if needed, could take hours or days.
  • No pacers, no caches, crew allowed only at designated points, gps is strongly advised
  • Due to the steepness, the altitude, and the rugged footing, most participants will average somewhere between 1 and 2 mph.
  • The course record as it currently stands is 2.5 mph. Definitely not soft.

You Must Be Qualified

All runners for this fat-ass run must have ample experience running/surviving in the mountains. Tough mountain 100-milers (like Hardrock, Barkley, Plain, Wasatch, The Bear, Bighorn, or IMTUF) certainly won't hurt your resume, but they also won't necessarily help. Instead, here are some things we think are more directly relevant:

  • Experience on very rugged terrain, such as scree slopes, perched boulder fields, river crossings, exposed ridges, firm and icy snowfields, avalanche chutes. Yes, some of the runs above have some or all of these things, but not in the dosages you'll encounter at The Cappis.
  • Experience navigating. A large portion of this course is not on trails, or is on trails that are not normal, so you should be used to traveling in the mountains on your own under difficult conditions.
  • Experience assessing weather as it develops and responding appropriately. Runners frighten us. They very often don't bring enough clothes, or the right sort.
If you're not used to doing these sorts of things, then most likely this is not the run for you, sorry. You will need to sell us on your abilities, otherwise your application will be rejected after it's been reviewed.

Namesake: John Cappis

For those of you who don't know John, he's one of the founders of Hardrock and a pioneer of the sport having finished 3rd at Western States back in 1978 in under 20 hours. James first met him in 2004 when John was in his 60s and was on the tail end of his running days but he could still get up and down the San Juan Mountains like a mountain goat and he was organizing a bunch of difficult mountain fun runs in cool places all over the southwest United States. John and Charlie Thorn were the masterminds behind the current Hardrock course and spending days with them out on the trails was always fun, educational and inspiring. John is not running the trails anymore these days but a run like this is just the kind of thing he'd do all the time when he was younger and I'm sure that if he could he would be the first to sign up. Thanks John for all that you've given to us!


Sky Pilots Endurance Navigators
Eric Robinson
Ginny LaForme

Event's current local time: 12:46 AM MT


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