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World renowned trail runner took to the sky for the 5th annual Rut Mountain Runs

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BIG SKY, Mont. -

On Saturday, runners from all across the country and the world took on Big Sky's Lone Peak for the 5th annual Rut Mountain Runs.

This runs consists of four main races and a kid’s race called The Rut Runt Run. Most of the race courses summit Lone Mountain at 11,166 feet. The 50K racers will gain 10,500 feet of elevation during the course of the race and the 28K race will gain 7,800 feet. The VK is a race straight to the top of the mountain. Racers gain 3,600 feet in about 3 miles and don’t descend.

Saturday morning’s race was the 28k race, which is a 17-mile run going over the mountain to Lone Peak and back.

As the race began, over 600 runners had one mission in mind and that was to make it back to the finish line.

Mike Wolfe, course director of the Rut, says no matter how long the race takes all the runners feel the same way in the end.

"Whether you're the first person or the last person in a race like this I think there's a huge sense of accomplishment for everyone,” said Wolfe. “For a lot of people, this is a bucket list. Like four years ago they thought maybe there's a chance I can do it some day and here they are today doing it. As a race organizer that's the best part about it seeing people who thought they couldn't do something and accomplish that. It's super rewarding."

Mike Wolfe and Mike Foote, both athletes with North Face started the Rut in Big Sky five years ago.

Mike Foote, Race Director, said they got the idea from their running experiences across the world.
"We really wanted to bring a big world class race event to Montana after we experienced some of the bigger races in the world in Europe," said Foote.

Both of the organizers said the race attracts world-class racers for the steep and highly technical terrain.

Foote says that the runs for this race have grown each year.
"We've grown every year. We had 375 people in 2013 to 2500 people in 2017," said Foote.

Just last year Outside magazine named the Rut Mountain Runs ‘One of the Toughest Races in the World.

Even though this is an intense race, Wolfe says anyone can do it with the right training.

"This is a race that anyone can do,” said Wolfe.  You just have to be dedicated and put in the time and practice. “For an event like this, there's so much climbing and descending it's more of a matter of strong legs that would be needed training for a road marathon."

So what makes these runners so dedicated?

"For me, it's a lot about the freedom,” said Foote.  “I think being physically fit, healthy and being able to move through a beautiful landscape is kind of what it boils down to. I love running in the mountains and having the health to do that is really amazing. I think that's why a lot of us are here."

The Rut is the only race stop in North America on the International Skyrunner Federation Series. It’s why the races attract some of the biggest names in trail running. 

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