The steep vertical flanks to the top of Lone Peak makes The Rut one of the most challenging ultra-marathon courses in the world.
Elite mountain runners from around the world will converge on Big Sky Resort Sept. 2nd – 4th to compete in the 4th Annual Rut Mountain Run, organized by the Runner’s Edge in Missoula and sponsored by Big Sky Resort and Salomon. It’s the only sanctioned race in North America that’s part of the International Skyrunner Federation’s 2016 Skyrunner World Series – which is why it attracts so many of the top athletes from across the globe. Skyrunner is the most prestigious mountain running series in the world.
There are 1,800 total racers registered in at least one of the four primary races: The Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer, 50K, 28K and 11K. There’s also a 1K kid’s race on Saturday. The 50K, which accommodates 625 racers, filled up 15 hours after registration opened.
All of the distances and race routes remain the same this year, but what’s constantly changing, says Mike Foote, race director, is the level of competition. That continues to increase. No longer is the 50K the premiere competition to watch. The level of running by supreme mountain athletes in the 28K and Vertical Kilometer is making every race one not-to-miss.
The Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer is an uphill race. Racers “run” a straight route to the top of Lone Peak, ascending 3,632 feet in about 3 miles. Runners in the 50K and 28K both summit the 11,166-foot iconic Lone Peak. There is 10,500 feet of elevation gain in the 50K and 7,800 feet in the 28K. The 11K wraps around Andesite Mountain.
For the men’s competition this year, all eyes are on the 50K where Cristofer Clemente of Spain and Matt Shryock of Alaska will go head-to-head. Clemente finished second in the 50K last year and Shryock finished third.
For the women, Hillary Allen of Colorado, who finished second a year ago to Switzerland’s Emelie Foresberg, is the one to watch in the 50K. Also, Laura Orgue of Spain, a former Olympic Nordic skier who transitioned full-time to running in 2015, is back to reclaim her title in the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer. However, the 28K may prove the best showdown as Orgue, who finished second a year ago, will take on defending course champion Megan Kimmel of Colorado.
Of the 1,800 racers, 1,000 of those participants are from Montana, while 92 are from Washington state, 90 are from California and 85 from Colorado. However, there are racers traveling from as far as Sweden, Bulgaria, Turkey, Italy and Spain.
There will be $12,500 in grand prizes given away during the course of the weekend, which is best described as a three-day mountain running festival. Spectators are encouraged to attend. The best way to view the races are from the top of the Ramcharger and Swift Current chairlifts and from the finish and starting lines both located in the Mountain Village. Scenic lift tickets ($28) will be available at the Basecamp to Yellowstone Building in the Mountain Village throughout the weekend. Also, spectators can sign up for the Lone Peak Expedition trips, which will take them via the Tram to the top of Lone Peak.
The public is invited to participate in the post-race party at Montana Jack on Sunday, Sept. 4 beginning at 8 p.m.
About Big Sky Resort: Big Sky Resort, established in 1973, is located in the Northern Rockies of southwest Montana between Bozeman, Montana and Yellowstone National Park. Big Sky Resort is the biggest skiing in America with 5,800+ acres offering an average of two acres per skier and 4,350 vertical drop. Big Sky Resort is owned by Boyne Resorts, a Michigan-based corporation and the largest family-run four-season resort company in North America. Boyne Resorts also owns Cypress Mountain near Vancouver, British Columbia; Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, and The Inn at Bay Harbor, all in Michigan; Brighton in Utah; Crystal Mountain and The Summit at Snoqualmie in Washington; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Sugarloaf and Sunday River Resort in Maine; and Gatlinburg Sky Lift in Tennessee.