By Joseph T. O’Connor EBS Managing Editor
Photos by EBS Staff
BIG SKY – On a chilly Labor Day weekend, nearly 1,500 runners from around the world competed in The Rut Mountain Runs at Big Sky Resort.
The Rut expanded this year to include a 25K race and a 1K Rut Runts Run in addition to the Vertical K Challenge and the penultimate event, The Rut 50K.
“The event is so well known in just its third year,” said Race Director Mike Foote after the 50K on Sept. 6. “It’s so great to see all these fans here, and to have such deep competition.”
Among the top 2015 competitors were Swede Emelie Forsberg, who ran all three events and who broke her own 50K women’s record set last year; Swiss trail runner Rémi Bonnet, who took the Vertical K;Bozeman’s own Edward Farley placing fourth in the 50K; and Italian Franco Collé, who took first in the 50K.
As he crossed the finish line at just under 5 hours, 17 minutes, his hands and knees scraped raw from Lone Mountain’s pervasive talus, Collé took a deep breath and smiled.
“It was a very hard race because I train at 1,000 meters in the Alps. It was difficult to breathe,” Collé said. “But I’m very happy. A good race for me is fifth or sixth position; not first.”
At 11,161 feet, Lone Mountain reaches nearly 3,500 meters. It loomed over thousands of runners andspectators scattered along the course during the holiday weekend. Big Sky Resort operated the Swift Current and Ramcharger chairlifts, shuttling competitors and their fans up the flanks, according to the resort’s Marketing Director Lyndsey Owens.
“The Jay Walk was packed,” said Owens, referring to the catwalk adjacent to the Swift Current unload area. “I was up there pretty early [Sunday morning] and counted at least 100 people.”
As the only international Skyrunner World Series-sanctioned event in the U.S., The Rut was as successful for the host resort as it was for local businesses, Owens said.
“I love hearing the buzz,” she said. “There were 1,900 registered runners, and each person probably brought one or two people with them. The whole community has gotten behind this event. It’s the perfect event for Big Sky … and I’m grateful for the community support.”