Race: The Rut 50K
Runner: Michael Adams
Race Date: 09/17/2023
Location: Big Sky, Montana
3 Bests – What aspects of the race did you like the most?
Very well organized and plenty of help at aid stations. The spectators are very supportive as well many as a lot of ultra fans are either family or have done them in the past and fully realize when you are doing and the effort it took to subjugate yourself to such a thing. Staffing for packet pickup was knowledgeable about drop bag local, times of events and the like.
Weird factor – What’s the weirdest thing about this race?
You can get a tattoo of “The Rut” logo- so that’s a thing here.
No UTMB points – keep on looking
No W.S. qualifier. . . Actually disappointed with the race directors here on these last two points.
Highlights of your race – What did you do well and enjoy about your race in particular?
I liked the fact that the community of ultra runners seems to be 100% behind this race. There is not a whole lot of races like this one here in Montana with this much vertical starting at an already high elevation. There are plenty of places to stay at in and around BigSky and its in an area that is a little more scenic than the rest of Montana! So much so that you can see mountain goats, bears and foxes like I saw, and other wildlife if you are lucky enough to get to spend some time around the area and take it all in.
Lessons for others – Share your pro-tips on the race to help the next runner
Base elevation is 7500ft so be ready to get your extra lung out. This is a multi day event with a party at the end so you can have your whole weekend, in one weekend, race, relax and fun! Plenty of things to do like zip line, downhill bike riding, hiking. You can do it all here its amazing, plan accordingly.
Local stores have a decent amount and variety of food stuffs. No worry about where you will get groceries in BigSky. There is no sales tax in Montana, however it is a resort town so the prices might be on par with a large city.
They do mean vertical climbing. There are some switch backs and a few scree fields are in the race, careful with the foot placement.
Lessons you learned that will help you next time around
Training at high altitude and/or getting too much vert in is the name of the game in training. Get really good, really comfortable, with climbing at altitude.
Most important course specific knowledge to know about the race
The aid stations get more frequent the closer to the end you are. There is one drop bag location which is roughly half way through the race.
Aesthetics – Is it a pretty course?
The course is amazing from up high! You can see the whole valley and mountain side(s)
Difficulty – Is it a tough course?
This is one of the tougher courses out there in my opinion. With the vertical and starting altitude you’d be hard pressed to find a comparable race.
Organized and well run – Did it feel like a well-oiled machine or were they flying by the seat of their pants?
Well-oiled machine. They know what it takes to run multi day mountain running event with a family friendly party at the end!
Competition – Is there a strong field?
The competition is tough. Unless you are truly dedicated to winning this one; you have become trail running vertical gain food timing guru, you most likely wont win and will probably be hard pressed to get an age group award.
Logistics – Does it require a special handshake, registration a year in advance, hotels all booked? Give us the low down on the nuts and bolts of making the race happen.
Plan months out, like six months out or more I’d say, maybe even more. Otherwise you will be hard presses to get a hotel, condo, camp site near the race start. You definitely don’t have to stay at the hotel or rent a condo in order to race. I was lucky enough to get into a cancellation in a resort condo room through Air B&B! However there is free parking and I did see a few people in their conversion-van(s) camping out the night before/ two nights before. There are also lots of camp sites between Bozeman and Big Sky were you can camp out in a tent or camper/conversion as well.
Aid Stations – Standard fare or anything special to know about the aid stations in terms of what’s available or when?
Miles apart between aid stations, roughly 5-8 miles apart at the beginning and shorter after the half way mark. They have a wide selection of things and have heed and scratch lab products. The usual gummies, pickles, chips, soda, water, gels and what not. Like most races its cupless so keep that in mind. Should be a problem as long as you have our hand held or pack held water container.
Weather and typical race conditions
Varies check the reports starting a week out. Its in the mountains so anything is possible.
Gear – Did you need anything special or is there anything you’d recommend for the next runner?
They have mandatory gear: headlight, rain fly/shell, space blanket. I wasn’t checked for such things, the 1st time I ran the race I was checked. So hit or miss on the gear check.
Spectators – Is this a friendly course for your friends?
Its a viewer friendly course for sure. Where they dont want you to go they have signs so no wondering if you are supposed to be somewhere or not. Its a ski slope so you can get a ticket and take lifts to couple different spots and spectate and cheer on your crazy ultra running family member/friend!
How’s the Swag?
Standard-Shirt for all. More stuff available at the packet pick up and event happenings. Finisher award and age group award(s). Top 3 male and female get a cash prize.
The Overall Score – How many stars do you give this race and do you recommend that others run it?
8 out of 10.
Minus two for the lack of building and/or qualifying race for other bigger races such as UTMB and Western States; I’m sure they have their reasons. Its a thing for people to try something such as a race like this to test their legs out for a larger race such as Mont Blanc. That factor just isn’t there. So either this has to be your goal race, or just one race among at least one other if your chasing a larger dream.