Imagine running a marathon that takes you up, around, and over the top of scree-encrusted Lone Peak, gaining and losing approximately 10,000 feet in elevation. Now tack on about 5 more miles. That in a nutshell is The Rut 50K-an ultra-marathon on the brink of becoming the biggest deal in Sky Running in the United States and, at least to some extent, the world.
To clarify, an ultra-race is any race longer than marathon length, or 26.2 miles. The shortest established ultrarace is 50 kilometers, or approximately 31 miles, but many ultra-marathons are 100 miles or more. Sky running, in its simplest definition, is running distance plus vertical, or long runs over mountainous terrain. The Rut, organized by The Runners Edge in Missoula, began in 2013 as the brainchild of race directors and international mountain runners, Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe. "The two Mikes" as they are known throughout the circuit, are both members of the North Face Ultra Running Team. Inspired by the steeper, more technical courses they've competed in throughout the European Alps, they wanted to bring that level of world-class racing to the U.S. and more specifically, to their Montana backyard.
On September 14, 2013, when the inaugural Rut 50K and 12K went off like a ski boot at 4:00am at Big Sky Resort, it got the attention of the International Skyrunning Federation. They chose The Rut 50K as the site of the 2014 Skyrunner World Series (SWS) Ultra Final. The SWS is a group of races taking place in the mountains of Spain, Italy, Switzerland, France, and now the United States. As race organizer Mike Foote explains, "You don't have to run all the races [in the SWS], but since The Rut 50K is the final, you get double the points, so most of the serious competitors will be here. We're expecting a bunch of international elite trail running athletes." One of those much anticipated athletes is Sky Runner Kilian Jornet, whom National Geographic named the 2014
People's Choice Adventurer of the Year.
"The course is one of the biggest draws of the event," says Foote. "The 50K is extremely technical. There's runnable
single track, but there's also lots of knife-edged ridgelines." The most attention-grabbing section takes runners up and over Lone Peak via Bone Crusher Ridge. The climb gains 2,000 feet in elevation in about a mile and a half of highly exposed terrain, to the iconic 11,166 ft. summit.
"It's just unbelievable up there," says Foote. "That part of the course is more than a race. It's an adventure."
The question The Rut asks us all, on some level, is do I have it in me? Do I have that kind of mental game? To put one foot in front of the other, over rocky, mountainous terrain, for 31 miles?
To read more from Ginny on The Rut Ultramarathon check out the next issue of Live Big Magazine now at Big Sky Resort.
The Rut 2013.
The Rut runners head up Lone Peak via Bone Crusher.
In most cities there's a wide range of special events and activities, which often lead to debilitating decision-making. But in small towns like Big Sky the entire community comes out for almost every event.
One of the first events of the summer was the Big Sky Wide Open on Saturday, June 8. The third annual putt-putt tournament Ophir School fundraiser took place from shop to shop around Big Sky's Town Center the second Saturday in June. Raising funds for our public schools couldn't be more fun. With holes designed around snowboards, slack lines, movie theater cut-outs, taxidermy Grizzly Bears, and old skee ball machines each par was more unique than the next. If only we could raise school funds more than once a summer...
Another great summer event I'm excited for is Brewfest on July 12. Big Sky Resort's Brewfest is in its 9th year and promises to be the largest beer festival in Montana. My favorite part is being outside, enjoying great beers with friends, and the live music. Roadkill Ghost Choir, who played The Late Show with David Letterman earlier this year, will perform at Brewfest alongside Hollow Wood.
Although I spend my fair share of time fly fishing in solitude, I love the annual Big Sky Fly Fishing Festival on July 26-27 because it combines one of my favorite hobbies with my love of socializing. I'll spend two days tackling the difficulties of fly fishing while sharing in the camaraderie. This festival makes for a fantastic way to enjoy food from the Gallatin Riverhouse, watch fly fishing films at Lone Peak Cinema, and, of course, catch some fish.
New this summer is Vine and Dine Festival. If there's one thing I like it's food and wine and someone telling me how to pair that food and wine. In particular I'm looking forward to the Big Sky Mountain Village Stroll because I'll have the chance to try a wide variety of wines from dozens of vineyards (including Green and Red Vineyards in Chiles Valley) as well as socialize with friends and wine reps. I intend to ask a lot of questions to learn everything I can about the ins and outs of wine tasting. With only a handful of other tastings under my belt, I'm looking forward to increasing my knowledge of wine and finding new appreciation for the art of wine tasting. Vine and Dine Festival is August 14-17 at Big Sky Resort.
Big Moon Rising Music Festival replaces Spruce Moose this year with its debut over Labor Day Weekend (August 29-30). I have not had a chance to see any of this year's bands live before and I cannot wait for the funk of New Orleans' Dumpstaphunk. Check out "Gas Man" performed by Dumpstaphunk in San Francisco.
Lastly, The Rut. In only its second year, it is now the International Skyrunner Federation's World Series Final, The Rut Vertical K, 12K and 50K promises to be even more impressive than the last. National Geographic Adventurer of the Year Kilian Jornet will make an appearance, and is sure to set a fast pace, in this ultramarathon of ultramarathons. Running is not my sport of choice, but I plan to cheer each runner on, cowbell in hand, and enjoy the Saturday afternoon BBQ, beer in hand. The Rut is one of those events unlike anything I have ever seen. It's too simplistic to say that it is impressive, it's a feat of physical fortitude, but more than that it is a feat of human spirit.
These are just a few of my favorite summer events around Big Sky. More info on these and other events can be found at bigskyresort.com/events
Father's Day is that special time of year devoted to dads. The one thing I know about my dad is he loves Big Sky. As a Great Falls, Montana, resident, my dad finds his fair share of fishing on the Missouri, golfing at various courses in town, and biking the hills of the high plains, but he is beckoned by the rushing fishable waters of the Gallatin River, the views of the Big Sky area golf courses, and the cross-country mountain biking. Thus, I've created this list of Father's Day gifts my dad will love. Now how will I decide which one to give him?
Flies & Fishes- Nymphs for now, Salmon flies for July, and grasshoppers for August, I'm thinking about setting my dad up with a fly-fishing variety pack. With the world-class blue ribbon fly-fishing found on the Gallatin, I know he'll need extra flies all summer long.
Hike, Bike, BBQ- This is a gift my dad would love because it also means quality time together. Hike, Bike, BBQ at Big Sky Resort begins July 1 and goes through August 26. Eating delicious BBQ after hiking and biking around Lone Mountain is right up my dad's alley, and also appeals to me.
Firecracker Open or Big Sky Open- Golf is a passion, an obsession, and a little bit frustrating from time to time. However, golf is one of my dad's obsessions and he's already asked me about the summer tournaments at Big Sky Resort Golf Course. All the tournaments are listed online, but with a dad like mine I still had to send him a list via email ("The IT Department," as he calls me, has at least helped him move beyond snail mail). Since he is eager to participate I thought I would pay his entry fee in a tournament or buy him golf balls that include a free entry into a tournament.
The great thing about having two other siblings is that, when in doubt, we can all go in together for the best gift possible. Father's Day is June 15 so I still have a couple days to decide, but either way I hope to share some fun days on the river, in the mountains, and on the golf course with my dad this summer.
-Anna and Erik
I have been a ski instructor at Big Sky Resort for eight seasons and guests always ask me "but what do you do in Big Sky during the summer?" My answer: "winter in Montana is wonderful but summers are something really special." Unlike summers in the east, summer sun in the west is warm on your skin and humidity is low. The average temperature in July is a comfortable 83 degrees making weather in Montana perfect for enjoying all kinds of outdoor activities. I certainly don't miss those hot, muggy summer days of the Midwest.
In the summer I love to hike nearby peaks that yield 360 degree vistas. Imagine snow-capped mountain peaks against a sapphire blue sky or high mountain lakes surrounded by a wide jagged cirque. Hiking is not for everyone. Many of my friends prefer exploring the area on horseback, and my husband enjoys mountain biking in the Porcupine Wilderness area or along the Gallatin River. The Gallatin River sits near Lone Mountain and is one of our favorite rivers in the country to fish. The movie "A River Runs Through It" was filmed on the Gallatin River near Castle Rock introducing Americans to fly-fishing and immediately increasing the popularity of our river. Skilled kayakers love the Gallatin's raging white water during spring run-off. It is fun to watch but I prefer a gentle raft trip down the Gallatin during the summer season when the water is much calmer.
A couple of times a week, I can be found golfing at Big Sky Resort. My favorite hole is nine because of the unique perspective of Lone Peak looming majestically in the distance. The view never ceases to impress me, and even though the views from every hole are spectacular this one in particular stops me in my golf-spiked tracks.
I also love summers in Big Sky as hibernation ends for human and animal alike. Maybe it is because the sun doesn't set until 10:30 at the peak of summer nights or because the sun provides us with our much missed Vitamin D.
Almost each Wednesday and Thursday of the summer I check out the Town Center Farmer's Market and Music in the Mountains, respectively. We take a bottle of wine to Music in the Mountains and enjoy the company of friends and free music as the sun sets over Lone Peak. I love coming to a place where I will see everyone I know.
It is a far better thing to spend summers in Montana than anywhere else. Where the biggest problem of Big Sky summers is there are too many things to do and not enough time to do them all. What a place to call home.
I'm spoiled, best to embrace it than deny it. I moved to Big Sky May 2013 and immediately secured a condo off the 18th tee box of Big Sky Resort's Golf Course. Not only do I have the Biggest Skiing in America in my backyard, 7 miles to be exact, but an amazing public golf course right off my deck. Oh, I've played my share of business trip golf scrambles and about 2 years ago, I decided it was time to play my own ball for 18 holes.
The Big Sky Resort Golf Course is an Arnold Palmer designed, 18 hole, 72 par, course winding along the banks of the West Fork of the scenic Gallatin River. Yes, the same Gallatin River the movie, A River Runs Through It was filmed starring Brad Pitt and directed by Robert Redford (swoon). The spectacular views of Lone Peak and the rest of the Madison Range surround this golf course. It's hard to imagine back in the early 1900s cattle grazed where I'm about to tee off at 6,300 feet above sea level. Honestly, I can't help but think my driving game has improved; the ball just flies farther at elevation.
The first tee is right outside the Pro Shop and Bunker Bar and Grill and by the time you've sunk your putt on the first green, the Mountain-Meadow style course becomes a wildlife refuge. Golf is a game of patience and here it is also patience with the animals. By the second hole we kindly wait for a flock of Canadian Geese to move along the river's edge. Fowl and water hazards have to be taken into consideration on this hole.
As we play on, I have to remind my companions to watch my drive, as I'm trying to keep my head down and they are gazing at Lone Peak in their own daydreams. The PGA Head Professional for the golf course, Mark Wehrman, told me I needed keep my head down during my previous week's Ladies Tuesday Night golf clinic (which are an affordable, fun way to improve your game and meet other women who enjoy the sport, after all, it is Man-tana).
The long Montana days allow me to golf into the 9 o'clock hour coming back around to the Bunker to sit on the deck, surrounded by mountains, the sun just starting to go down, and finish off a perfect day with the best burger in town and an ice cold beer (it's worth passing by my condo). Did I mention I'm spoiled?
For the full story on Big Sky Resort's Golf Course make sure to check out volume 7 of Live Big Magazine this summer.
Big Sky Resort's Arnold Palmer designed Golf Course opens May 23. Also, check the Events Calendar for information on Women's, Men's, and Saturday Golf Clinics as well as tournaments all summer long.
Springtime at Big Sky Resort's Golf Course.
Ladies Golf Clinic on Tuesdays at 10am and 5:30pm.
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