Saturday, September 20, 2014

Run the Rut! A euro-style party on the mountain.

The Rut based at Big Sky Resort in Montana lived up to the hype – a tough, technical, grueling, euro-style SkyRunning race – complete with a talented competitive field including top international runners and energetic spectators throughout. The race management, volunteers, spectators, and other competitors made it a race to be remembered!
Sweet single track along the Rut.
Photo source: Vo von Sehlen, The Runner's Edge.

A late decision to race the Rut as part of the US Sky Running series proved to be an excellent decision. Working this year to develop my ultrarunning race portfolio beyond Arizona and in highly competitive races I am extremely pleased thus far with my season. Many thanks to the Run Steep Get High Mountain Running Team and CarboPro for their support. I have been grateful to have quickly improved in my first competitive season with valuable lessons learned which I take to heart to improve. Setting race goals and then reflecting upon them has been critical to help me push my boundaries.

If I am to have a shot at winning the US SkyRunning Ultra series finale at the Flagstaff Sky Run 55K, October 4, I will need a perfectly dialed race built upon the lessons learned from the Rut and Speedgoat.
Start of the Rut in freezing temps at 6am. Photo by

My goals, outcomes, and lessons from the Rut:

Goal: Finish in the top ten.
Outcome: 8th overall in a stacked field. Compared to my previous race, Speedgoat 50K, I finished significantly closer to my fellow US Skyrunning compatriots Paul Hamilton and Ricky Gates. Now I will need to be confident to run with them but still save something for the final climb at Flagstaff.
Finishing 8th overall at the Rut. Photo Source: The Rut

Goal: Climb strong up Lone Peak and then finish strong the remaining 10miles.
Outcome: My climbing throughout the race was much stronger than at Speedgoat where I fell apart on the 2nd climb. I still felt the altitude above 10,000ft but lost little ground except to speedy Ricky Gates. My legs held strong and my energy levels stayed consistent thanks to CarboPro with an occasional Stinger energy chew packet. However, my stomach did give me trouble the final 6 miles inhibiting me from catching Dan Kraft and holding off Ricky. This might have been due to being dehydrated and forcing down some watermelon after the intense Lone Peak vertical. It sat and grew in discomfort through to the finish. If only I was better at forcing it back up I might have been able to ditch the discomfort. Despite the cooler weather I should plan to carry a 2nd water bottle with the longer intervals, 1-1.5hrs, between aid stations.

Near the top of Lone Peak, 11,170ft with Ricky Gates closing the gap.
Photo source: The Rut

Goal: Fly easily down technical, pounding descents and gain ground on others.
Outcome: My first time racing in the Salomon S-Lab Sense 3 Ultra I have become a huge fan! Stable, sure footed, responsive – I never tweaked an ankle or lost my footing through the technical, treacherous, and pounding downhills. I have been dealing throughout the season with instability in various shoes and too-frequent ankle tweaks. I confidently and aggressively flew down the hills and was able to easily gain ground. This allowed me to be more relaxed during the climbs and ration my energy output.

Screaming down a roped section. Photo source: The Running Competitor.

Next Up. With only 3 weeks (2 at the time of posting this) between the Rut and the Flagstaff Sky Run my focus is to recover and keep my legs fresh. The competition at the Flagstaff Sky Run will be intense with Paul Hamilton, Dan Kraft, Chris Price, Jeremy Wolfe, and probably others. I’ll need to run a smart race with everything perfectly dialed. Luckily, I’ll have the home court advantage.

Approaching the last aid station with Lone Peak in the background.
Photo source: The Rut

Steep climbing at The Rut. Photo source: Vo von Sehlen, The Runner's Edge.