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2023 Rut Registration Parties planned for Big Sky, Bozeman, Missoula

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Rut Runners descend above the Headwaters. PHOTO BY STEVEN GNAM

Big Sky’s first-time event offers early registration for the races 

By Jack Reaney STAFF WRITER 

The popular Rut Mountain Runs will take place on Sept. 15-17, 2023, and locals will have a shot to register for events before Jan. 10 at 8 a.m. Mountain time, when registration opens to the public—and presumably fills up within minutes.  

On Jan. 9, in-person attendees will have early access in three communities across the state: Big Sky Resort will host the Rut Registration Party at Vista Hall from 4-6 p.m., Missoulians can register at Runner’s Edge from 5-7 p.m. and Bozemanites can sign up at the Mountain Project from 7-9 p.m. All athletes must be physically present to sign up, according to Big Sky Resort officials. Volunteers from this past September have special priority to register from Jan. 2-6.  

Although Missoula and Bozeman have hosted these events before—but not since January 2020—this will be the first local registration party for Big Sky’s running community, according to Missoula-based North Face athlete Mike Foote, co-founder and race director for the Rut Mountain Runs.  

“The biggest thing is the opportunity to sign up, and to bring the running community together at a time of year when it feels really far out,” Foote said.  

Construction on the new Lone Peak Tram will impact race routes in 2023, notably the vertical kilometer event which typically finishes at the peak. The 2.5-mile VK will follow its typical course until stopping 700 vertical feet short. The 28- and 50-kilometer events will also re-route to avoid the peak construction, “[descending ‘Marx’] down a large scree slope and [wrapping] around to the Dakota territory,” according to the event website.  

“We wanted to keep as much of the historic rut route as we could,” Foote said, adding that the new route was designed in collaboration with ski patrol and mountain operations to ensure patrollers could safely and effectively access runners in need of medical care. 

“At the end of the day it’s only about a 2-mile section. We think we’re still offering a really challenging route for people. One of the best things we have is an incredible course, and luckily it’s only [going to be] one year.” 

The overall course for 28K and 50K will be within 600 vertical feet and a quarter mile distance of their original routes.  

Moving counterclockwise, runners will follow the pink line across Marx instead of the traditional route over the peak. PHOTO COURTESY OF MIKE FOOTE

Foote said runners are pretty excited about a new race for 2023: The 20K event is designed to offer something between the relatively easy 11K and the more serious 28K.  

“You’re never on an exposed ridgeline but you do get above the alpine terrain in the bowl, and it’s all on trail,” he said. The 11K stays on Andesite Mountain, whereas the 20K will traverse from Andesite onto mid-mountain elevations of Lone Mountain including the bowl.  

Busy organizing the entire event, Foote typically competes in the VK. He said his favorite memory came in September 2022, seeing the energy of a thriving Rut community for the first time since 2019 before the pandemic.  

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