BIG SKY – Elite runners from 15 countries and 42 states will descend on Big Sky Resort for the third annual Rut ultrarunning distance races Sept. 4-7.

Organized by Missoula-based running shop the Runner’s Edge, and sponsored by Salomon, The Rut is part of the International Skyrunning Federation’s 2015 Skyrunner World Series.

New this year is the 25K Sky Race in addition to the popular 50K, 11K, and Vertical Kilometer races.

The Rut 50K course will have a 10,000-foot elevation gain, testing runners with off-trail exposed ridgelines, forested single-track trails, rugged jeep roads and the ascent and traverse of Headwaters ridge. Racers will also ascend Lone Mountain’s lofty summit.

The 25K is essentially a shortened version of the 50K – a 16.4-mile race including the same steep and technical sections of the 50K, with a 7,500-foot elevation gain.

The Rut 11K will gain 2,100 vertical feet and loop along singletrack trails on Andesite Mountain, through subalpine pine forests. The Vertical Kilometer is a completely uphill race featuring over 1 km of elevation gain in just 5 km of distance, climbing up 3,200 vertical feet to Lone Mountain’s 11,166-foot summit.

Big Sky Resort PR Manager Sheila D’Amico says the new 25K race option was added in response to the growing demand of participants. “It’s giving variety to the runner who wants to have the challenge [of a mountain race] but isn’t ready for the ultra 50K run,” she said.

Since The Rut’s inception in 2013, participation has doubled each year. The 50K sold out in a few days at 600 runners and the 25K is sold out at 400 runners. The Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer is also sold out with 200 participants. There are still limited spots available in the 11K race, which is capped at 600 racers.

The Rut is the brainchild of race directors and Missoula-based professional ultra-trail runners Mike Foote and Mike Wolfe, both athletes for The North Face’s ultrarunning team.

Spectators are welcome and Lone Peak Expedition tours, as well as Swift Current and Ramcharger chairlifts, will be available to get up the mountain to cheer on runners.

Visit for more information, race times and course maps.