|Whitefish native Matt Shryock (shown at the 2014 Rut) has been training in Alaska for his 3rd go here and is hoping to make Montana proud. Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
The Rut--now in its third year--already has a cult following here in Montana. It's just one weekend, but it looms large all year long. Pick a Saturday morning in the summer and you're bound to see its devotees slogging up the steepest pitches of Mount Helena, Sentinel, or Baldy. The Rut is a disciplinarian telling the runners to put in the work or suffer in September.
When we first wrote about The Rut we knew it would have an appeal--a way for those of us in the Northern Rockies to experience the thrills of European mountain racing without the airfare. After all, a couple of guys who know a thing or two about mountain running put it together. As it turns out, what we got is way beyond some imitation Euro-race. The Montana Mikes (Foote and Wolfe) devised a 50K drawn not only from their experiences mountain running across the pond, but from their local knowledge of Big Sky Resort. Mike Wolfe, of course, grew up in Bozeman so he knows the ins and out of Lone Mountain as good as anyone. Mike Foote, meanwhile, ski patrolled at adjacent Moonlight Basin. Throw together equal parts cowbell and camo and "A True Montana Mountain Run" was born.
To say The Rut was a hit from the start is putting it mildly. As Jeff Rome confessed after the inaugural event, "For the first time, I actually felt challenged on a course—I genuinely felt proud for each person who crossed the finish line because I know everyone there had to really try to finish." We always expected that The Rut would draw people looking for a challenge, but the way it influences how people in Montana train is a pretty special phenomenon. The Rut faithful grinding the steeps is the mountain running equivalent of marathoners running long every Sunday morning. Instead of the extra miles, we take on the steepest challenge simply for the fact that it might make things just a little less painful on race weekend.
Courses:The 2015 Rut 50K course appears largely the same as 2014, which was considerably harder than 2013. Rut veterans will notice the absence of the hand line and the prominent out and back in the basin, but the vertical and mileage remains the same. It's in the ballpark of 10,000 feet of gain over 31 miles. Ouch!
The 25K is new for 2015 and features all the prominent summits of the 50K with half the running
distance. It'll be a grind up some 7,500 feet of gain. It's up and down, nothing else.
The VK is as tough and steep as ever. Up all the way.
Weather:As runners there are things we try to control, but in the mountains there are plenty of things we can't. Topping out in excess of 11,000 feet in the Madison Range, Lone Mountain draws weather. The latest 50K race day forecast is calling for a high of 51 degrees and a low of 33. That's the base area. For the mountain, this means a pretty good chance of snow. Nobody said this thing was going to be easy, but the RDs have a contingency plan in place that utilizes lower elevation trails as an alternative if runner safety becomes a concern.
Athletes to watch:
The Rut course gets much of the attention, but the athletes should too. There are some amazing international athletes competing to go along with some mighty talented locals. The fields for all three races are stacked and contain everything from speedy marathoners to elite ski mountaineers. There are dozens of very good runners in each race. It made assembling a thorough race preview a fun and arduous task! So from a quick look at entrants, here are some people to root for and mostly in alphabetical order. (If we missed anyone who you think might contend, let us know firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ashley Erba, Boulder, Colorado... Moab Red Hot 55 Champ, 3rd at 2015 Lake Sonoma 50, racing all 3 events
Emelie Forsberg, Sweden... 2014 Rut Champ, 2014 Skyrunning World Champ, racing all three events
|Emelie Forsberg making it look easy at The Rut - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
Nicole Hunt, Deer Lodge, Montana... 3rd at 2014 Rut VK, Masters CR at Mount Washington, CR at Sentinel Hill Climb, undefeated in Montana this year, including Pengelly Double, 11 Miles to Paradise, and more.
Stevie Kremer, Crested Butte, Colorado... Winner of numerous European mountain runs, including 2013 Mont Blanc Marathon.
|Stevie Kremer - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
Laura Orguè... VK World Champ
Yngvild Pedersen... Norway
Maite Maiora ... Spain... 3rd at 2015 IAU Trail World Champs
Perret Adrien, France...French SkiMo champ
Rémi Bonnet, Switzerland...
Art DeGraw, Flagstaff, Arizona...2nd at 2015 Whiteface VK, 2nd at 2014 Flagstaff VK
Rickey Gates, Madison, Wisconsin...2nd at 2014 Rut VK, 4th at Rut 50K, countless victories and podiums throughout his career.
|Ricky Gates at the Rut VK - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
David Morris, Helena, Montana... 2:09 marathoner, (former U.S. record holder),1:01 half marathoner, a top master in MT.
Davide Magnani, Italy...
Jeff Rome, Missoula, Montana... 9th at 2014 Rut VK, 6th at 2015 Power of Four VK, 3rd at 2015 Pengelly Double Dip, 3rd at 2013 Ridge Run.
Jim Rucker, Whitefish, Montana... 2:25 marathoner, 1:07 half marathon, 3:25 trail 50K
Ferran Teixidó, Andorra...
Xavier Teixidó, Andorra...
Ashley Erba, Boulder (See above)
|Ashley Erba at the 2015 Power of Four Run - Credit:Myke Hermsmeyer|
Anna Frost, New Zealand (see above)
|Anna Frost (2015 Hardrock 100) - Credit: Matt Trappe Photo & Film/Myke Hermsmeyer from Matt Trappe's upcoming Hardrock 100 film.|
Megan Kimmel, Silverton... Multi-time USATF Champ, multi-time Pikes Peak Ascent champ
|Megan Kimmel at the North Face Endurance Challenge Series San Francisco Credit: ultraracephotos.com/Myke Hermsmeyer|
Stevie Kremer, Crested Butte.. (See Above)
Corrine Malcolm, Bozeman... (See Above)
Eva Moreda Gabaldon, Spain
Laura Orguè, Spain
Maite Maiora, Spain
Oihana Kortazar, Spain
Yngvild Pedersen, Norway
Perret Adrien, France (See Above)
Peder Anderson, Bozeman... 2014 Ridge Run Champ, 2015 Old Gabe Champ
Michael Barlow, Aspen... 2015 San Juan Solstice 50 Champ
Forrest Boughner, Missoula... 1:10 half marathoner focused on the mountains
Rickey Gates...Madison (See Above)
Joe Gray, Colorado Springs... Multi-time US Mountain Running Team Member, dozens of wins in 2015
|Joe Gray at the North Face Endurance Challenge Series Washington, DC. Credit ultraracephotos.com/Myk|
Bartolome Ingles Balagner, Spain
Henry Reich, Missoula... 2015 Pengelly Double Dip Champ, 2nd at Don't Fence Me In 30K
|Henry Reich at the 2014 Mount Sentinel Hill Climb - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
Tom Owens, UK... podium finishes at numerous European Skyrunning events, 2015 Whiteface Sky Marathon Champ, 4th at 2014 Rut 50K.
Pere Rullan, Spain... Skyrunning national champ, 3rd at European championships.
Paul Terranova, Austin, Texas... 10th at 2015 Western States 100
Tadei Pivk, Italy..Zegama and Dolomite Sky race champ
Marco De Gasperi, Italy... 6-time World Mountain Running Champion
Sintu Vives, Spain
Jessed Hernandez, Spain
Ferran Teixidó, Andorra...
Xavier Teixidó, Andorra...
Jeff Krar, Calgary, Alberta...
Hillary Allen, Boulder... 2015 Speedgoat 50K Champ, 2015 Quest for the Crest Champ, 2014 Flagstaff Skyrace Champ, 5th at 2014 Rut 50K
|Hillary Allen at the 2014 Rut 50K - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
Rhea Black, Missoula... former Pengelly Double Dip Champ, 11 at 2014 Speedgoat 50K
Meaghen Brown, Sante Fe (Missoula, MT)... 9th at 2014 Rut 50K, 2nd at 2012 Big Horn 50.
Ashley Erba, Boulder (see above)
Emelie Forsberg, Sweden... (see above)
Anna Frost, New Zealand... (see above)
Anya Gue...Missoula... 2nd at 2014 Big Horn 50, 2nd at 2013 Don't Fence Me In
Kristina Pattison... Missoula... MTC's own, 6th at a pair Skyrunning Ultras this year, currently ranked 4th in the Skyrunning World Series.
|Kristina Pattison at the 2014 Pengelly Double Dip - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
Kaitlin Macdonald, Bozeman... 2nd at 2013 Rut 50K, 2nd at 2015 Bridger Ridge Run
Viviana Masis, Costa Rica...
Laura Tabor, Boulder, Colorado..
Alan Adams, Missoula... 5th at 2013 Rut 50K
Franco Collè, Italy
Cristopher Clemente, Spain
Art DeGraw, Flagstaff... (see above)
Edward Farley, Bozeman... wildcard who had a big lead at the Ridge Run before running off course.
Kiefer Hahn, Missoula... 3-time Missoula Marathon Champ
Adam Jenson, Anchorage, Alaska (Missoula, MT)...7th at 2015 Mount Marathon
Max King... Bend, Oregon...2014 100K World Champion, 2011 Mountain Running World Champion, countless podiums over all distances and terrain.
|Max King at the Lake Sonoma 50 - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
|Dan Kraft at The Rut - Credit: Myke Hermsmeyer|
Timmy Parr... Leadville, Colorado...a dozen podiums at mountain runs this year, including several wins such as Tushar Trail Run
Chris Price, Pasadena, California... 4th 2015 Hardrock 100, 2nd at Jemez Mountain 50
John Ricardi...Bellevue, Washington (Gardiner, MT) 2:27 marathoner, 1:07 half, 8:36 steeple, 8X Montana State Champ, Former U.S. Junior Mt Running Team member
Josh Ricardi... Seattle (Gardiner, MT)... 2:27 marathoner, 1:09 half, pro obstacle racer
Gary Robbins... British Columbia... 2-time HURT 100 Champ, Podiums at numerous Northwest Ultras.
Jeff Rome... Missoula... (see above)
Matt Shryrock... Anchorage (Whitefish, MT)... 2nd at 2013 Rut, 11th in 2014, former Missoula Half Marathon champ.
Paul Terranova... Austin, Texas... (See above)