Date/place: Sept 4th 2016 Big Sky Resort, Montana
Weather: Rain and Snow
Time: a shivery 7 hours and 23 minutes
The Rut 50k is 31 miles of downhill mountain bike trails, access roads, and the star of the show, Lone Peak! Unfortunately, this year the race directors were forced to cut out the peak due to snow and high winds. This took out quite a bit of elevation and took the distance down to 27 miles... which turned out to be more than enough for me!
The first 22 miles flew by! I felt like a little fox bouncing through beautiful forests covered in bright green moss. Mountains and trees emerged as if from nowhere out of the rain and fog. As we ran up in elevation, the snow started and the views were stunning! I got to talk to really great people from all over the country who all shared my passion for running and exploring the outdoors. One man said (in a warm mid-western accent) "we may not be in the front of the pack, but we get to spend more time outside which is nothing to be sad about." I couldn't agree more... even as I was losing feeling in my fingers and toes.
The last 5 miles were the longest of my life. My legs were exhausted and my back was cramping from the effort and the cold. Every step downhill made my whole body flinch. At points, I was in tears swearing that I would never run again. Mile 26 went on forever. Then, I could hear the announcer at the finish line and the cowbells. Magically all the pain vanished and I kicked it in!
It's incredible the range of emotions you encounter over just 7 hours. Anything from awe and elation to the lowest of lows. I think that its this range of emotions that we as runners crave. Maybe it's something we don't feel on an everyday basis that we are looking for. This high that only adrenaline, excruciating pain, and nature can bring is what we seek. Personally, it's the friendships I create during extreme suffering that keeps me coming back for more. Any bond you make or love you find during a race or a long run is a bond like nothing else. We all run for different reasons and no reason is better than another as long as there is a respect for the sport, for others, and for nature. Until next year, Big Sky!