The Rut 2014 kicked off on a brisk Friday morning at the Mountain Village Base Area at Big Sky Resort. The Vertical Kilometer promised to be challenging but a quick race to the top of Lone Peak. Salomon team runner Kilian Jornet impressed spectators and fellow racers with a Vertical K time of 46 minutes 12 seconds and a 50K time of 5 hours 09 minutes, taking first in both events. The Rut doubled in size since its inaugural year in 2013. Not only did the race bring out regional and local running fanatics, but brought the best of the best in the Ultramarathon world as the SkyRunning World Series Ultra Final. Congrats to all runners. Check out a few photos and highlight video from The Rut and see you next year.
Filmed and edited by Michael Jezak.
Captain America nearly at the Vertical K finish line at the top of Lone Peak. Photo: Anna Husted
Madison Base Area check point of The Rut 50K. Photo: Anna Husted
Kilian Jornet arriving at the 50K finish line at the base area of Big Sky Resort. Photo: Anna Husted
Emelie Forsberg crosses the 50K finish line, winning the women's overall division. Photo: Anna Husted
Men's overall second place finisher Sage Canaday shakes hands with first place finisher Kilian Jornet. Photo: Anna Husted
Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe of Missoula, Montana, started The Rut 12K & 50K in 2013 at Big Sky Resort. For 2014 they added the Vertical K on Friday, Sept. 13. More than 1,000 racers will be at Big Sky Resort this weekend to participate in The Rut and 50K Skyrunner World Series Ultra Final. Here's what Foote had to say about The Rut and ultramarathons:
How was The Rut conceived? Give us a bit of the back story.
Mike and I both have travelled and raced extensively in other parts of the world, especially in Europe, and we were inspired but the challenging and technical mountain terrain where these events took place. We were also impressed by the amount of celebration around these events by the local towns and the culture in general. We are excited to bring that energy back to our home turf in Montana and the US. There are few races in the states which have the severe terrain The Rut 50K and VK showcase. We also just wanted to have fun with this and have a reason for folks to come run in some of the best mountain terrain Montana has to offer.
So Big Sky Resort was always in the top running for an ultramarathon for you and Mike Wolfe?
Lone Mountain and Peak had the terrain we were looking for, mixed with the infrastructure of trails to use and the amenities of a world-class resort to host thousands of runners with their friends and family. It was an easy decision.
The Rut was such a hit last year, what can you tell me about the 2014 course? Any updates?
We had so much fun with the race in 2013 that we didn't want to change the atmosphere too much. With that said, the race has more than doubled in size and we made the course harder. Yes, that has been the goal all along. We have added some stunning ridge line terrain on the Headwaters Ridge and a brutal climb up a steep 45 degree scree slope to gain the ridge. It's going to be awesome.
Also, we are now the final of the prestigious Skyrunner World Series Ultra category. This has attracted many of the best mountain runners in the world.
About how many hours have you worked on The Rut trails?
*Laughs Good questions. We have worked a couple days on the Headwaters section. It is the most technical sections of the course so we wanted to make it flow better through certain sections to provide more safety in the exposed terrain.
We know there's a lot of physical preparation for any ultramarathon, but how does a runner mentally prepare for The Rut?
Every runner is different. I think I would recommend accepting the suffering that will occur on the course as opposed to fighting it. I would also recommend working to be relaxed the week of the race. It's easy to get overworked and overstressed. Lastly, focus on the positive. It will help you perform to your potential.
You both are also well-known for competing in Ultramarathons (not just directing one), what was your favorite race of 2014 besides The Rut?
For me, I really enjoyed the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120K mountain race in the Italian Dolomites I participated in this June. It had all the elements we want to have at The Rut. It was well organized, went through incredible mountain scenery, and was a celebratory atmosphere with thousands of runners and spectators.
Any other comments?
We have Elk Hides branded with the Rut logo for finisher awards this year. Finishing this race is quite the accomplishment and we are excited to honor that with some Montana flare.
Big Moon Rising Music Festival took place during Labor Day weekend of this year and brought the funk to Big Sky Resort. Although the weather did not play in Big Moon's favor, Friday and Saturday nights were high energy crowds with lots of love for Keller Williams with More Than A Little, Dumpstaphunk, Andrew Gromiller and the Organically Grown, and, of course, The Family Stone. The Family Stone played all the hits: "I Want to Take You Higher," "Stand!" and "It's a Family Affair," and Keller Williams started his set on the floor of Whiskey Jack's among the crowd. But don't let me do all the convincing, check out the highlights from Big Moon Rising:
Video: Michael Jezak
Big Sky Resort made Fodor's Travel 10 Best Ski Resorts for Summer Fun list. Big Sky Resort ranked among Oregon's Timberline Lodge, Killington Resort, and our sister resort, Sunday River, to name a few (congratulations Sunday River).
Summers in Montana can't be beat, but summers in Big Sky are phenomenal. "Fun" doesn't even begin to describe what goes on at Big Sky Resort and the larger community in the summer. A few weeks ago I wrote about the numerous events Big Sky hosts in the summer. Fodor picked up on the inaugural Vine & Dine Festival as an "insider tip" but there's a lot more insider tips and events where that came from. Such as hiking world-renowned Beehive Basin trail, grabbing a Wrap Shack margarita to-go, ziplining and whitewater rafting in the same day, and jumping on the Bungee Trampoline an unlimited amount of times with just one ticket. Did I mention flyfishing on multiple Blue Ribbon streams and rivers such as the one in A River Runs Through It? I'd venture to say there are so many activities in and around Big Sky Resort I never get to them all in one summer.
Check out the complete list of resorts at Fodor's Travel and join us in Big Sky for summer fun.
For summer fun at Big Sky Resort try the Lone Peak Expedition to 11,166 feet.
Last week I had the chance to sit down with Big Sky Resort's Sarah Blechta, Condominium Manager, and Laura Gregory, Assistant Condominium Manager, and chat about lodging, renting, and a little bit of everything vacation related. With more than 700 room options at the resort it takes a certain set of various skills and love for spontaneity to take on the condo management role. Here's what Sarah and Laura had to say:
Tell me a bit about what it takes to be a Condominium Manager at Big Sky Resort.
Laura Gregory: Where to begin? I think to be successful in this role you have to wear many hats at any given time. Every day there's a new challenge or something new to learn. During a normal work week, I am a satellite repair woman, internet specialist, accountant, housekeeper, photographer, PR spokeswoman, sales agent, maintenance advisor, and that's just to name a few.
Sarah Blechta: To be the Condominium Manager it takes attention to detail and a passion for helping people. We help owners, their friends and family, as well as their guests so we have to communicate well and know the owners and their properties.
What about Owner Appreciation Weekend should non-owners know about?
LG: Great question. Guests may not know, but we have a team of licensed property managers with more than 40 years of combined experience here at the resort. We offer a range of just under 500 different properties/ units that are available for rental and under our care. If they are interested in purchasing a second home and are looking for a way to subsidize the cost, joining our rental program is a great option.
Owner Appreciation Weekend is about creating awareness for the variety of services we offer here for guests and owners alike so we denote Labor Day weekend to show our appreciation for our partners. We wouldn't be able to offer the collection of lodging options to our guests without them. Our relationship with them as our business allies is essential to our success as a company, resort, and town.
SB: Our owners should care about this weekend because we want them to know how much we appreciate them and are grateful for the trust they put in us. It has been a hit year after year and gives our owners a chance to see us face-to-face in a fun environment.
What is the highlight of your day?
LG: Aside from getting my email inbox under 100? Laughs I would have to say, it's when I have the opportunity to make an impact on a guest's stay. You can't always control the things that happen to our guests. They may have had a bad flight, gotten lost on the way here, etc. but what you can do, is govern how you work with them afterwards, which hopefully turns their stay around. Sometimes the way you handle an issue makes more of an impact than the source of their discontent originally did.
SB: The highlight of my day and job is making a difference for an owner or a guest. Having the opportunity to create a memorable moment for them is what makes this job so great.
Highlight of your job?
LG: The thing I love most about my job is all of the special relationships I have worked to develop with our owners. There's nothing like calling up an owner to give an update on a project in their home and then you end up spending 30 minutes with them catching up on life. Or maybe you are lucky enough to catch them in the lobby at check in and they great you with arms wide open. Nothing is more valuable to me, than that kind of feedback.
Tell me about a time when you had a "this right here is why I do this job" moment.
LG: I think my first "ah- ha!" moment was when Sarah went on maternity leave my first winter (2011/ 2012) on the job. I was currently the Administrative Assistant and was thrown into the fire in the middle of February. There's nothing like learning on the job. Not only was my experience invaluable to my career here at the resort, but it was a great opportunity to show owners what I was capable of.
Understandably so, there were some owners that preferred to only speak with Sarah on matters of business as I was just the spreadsheet and filing gal. So when they had no choice but to speak with me, I worked my darndest to show them they could trust me to help. It was one of the greatest highlights of the whole experience that I was able to walk away with and was the most valuable feedback I could have asked for.
Any last thoughts?
LG: Just that I truly hope our owners know how much we sincerely love what we do and we are here for them when they need us. It really has been a pleasure getting to know them over the past 3 years as well as meeting all of the new Moonlight owners from the integration of two great resorts. I can only look forward to what is to come.
Owner's Appreciation Weekend is going on right now, August 28-31.
One of the new properities with the Moonlight integration, Moonlight Mountain Home.
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