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17.4 miles

Elevation Gain

7800 ft

Route Type



Added by Jen Weir

The suck-factor is high but the summit is higher.

Thunderdome. That's the only way to describe it. Eight months later and I'm still thinking about it on a regular basis. My half-way grown out black toenail is a constant reminder of the epic-ness of that brutal race day. 

The Rut is held the first weekend of September in Big Sky, MT -- a pretty rad place. Over the course of three days, four different events are held; the VK, one kilometer of elevation gain in the distance of a 5K; the 28K (which is what I finished) with a 7,800-foot elevation gain; a 50K with a 10,500-foot elevation gain (recently highlighted by Runner's World); and an 11K with 1,700 feet elevation gain.

It doesn't matter which race you go with, you will be physically challenged.

All of the races start at the Big Sky Resort Village and traverse up and down and all around the Big Sky Resort property. During the race you'll cover every type of terrain imaginable including jeep tracks, single-track, rocks, shale, etc. -- sometimes on all-fours.

The race website warns, "There are sections of this course, including the ascent and traverse of Headwaters ridge, as well as the ascent and descent of Lone Peak, which are EXTREMELY STEEP & TECHNICAL with sections of exposure and potential rockfall hazard. The result of a fall in these sections could be injury or death."

So, ya, it's pretty gnarly.

And, did I mention there's elevation? The VK, 28K and 50K all summit Lone Peak and with that summit comes views you can only imagine.

The one caveat is you can't just finish, you have to finish in a specific amount of time. You also have to hit designated check-points by the cut-off times. Failing to do so will earn you the dreaded DNF.

Thankfully, I managed to finish and, man, was I happy when I crossed that finish line and they put that sweet-ass medal around my neck. After guzzling my complimentary brewski, I hobbled to the Jeep, looked up at Lone Peak and decided I'd do it again.

As of today, training for The Rut 2020 has officially begun!

If you're a trail runner looking for a little bit more of a wow factor or you just wanna feel alive, I highly recommend punishing yourself with The Rut. Be aware, if you're serious about doing it (and you better be if you commit) it fills up fast. When registration opened in January, 325 people filled up the VK and 850 sold out the 28K in the first 10 minutes, in two hours the 50K was full. 

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