I do not even know where to start writing about this race. It was one of the hardest races I have ever done, but I felt right at home in this terrain, finally all of my 14er hiking paid off!
There were 4 wave options spaced 5 minutes apart, I chose to start in wave 4 to avoid the congestion that comes with large races that funnel into single track. One word of caution here though, if you start in wave 4, the aid station cutoffs are not adjusted for this time. I had a friend who missed the cutoff by a few minutes and if she had started in the earlier wave she would have made it with time to spare.
My race started at 6:20 am, it was a balmy 30 degrees out, but honestly 30 degrees felt very comfortable once we started running. My first mistake was wearing my Salomon down jacket, I always under estimate the power of down! I took my down jacket off about 10 miles into the race and unfortunately it fell off my pack someplace up on the first big ridge crossing and I did not notice until miles later. (Farewell favorite red jacket!)
The Rut takes no time kicking your ass. Right out of the gate you are faced with a 1500ft climb in the first 2 miles. My goal for the day was to take it easy and pace myself for the first 15K of the race, which for some reason is hard for me to do, I always burn myself out in the first half of the race and then suffer the last half. For the first 10 miles of the race I leap frogged with familiar Colorado faces.
The first real big climb comes at mile 15. This is where The Rut starts to show its true colors. I was so excited when I hit this section, this is why I signed up for The Rut, I crave that big mountain terrain! This was what I was saving my energy for, as soon as I hit this talus I went into 14er power hike mode and did not look back, ok I looked back a few times at the scenery. This race becomes so much fun at this point, you top out on this climb and run an incredible vertigo educing ridge line for about a mile.
After this fun ridge line you descend back down a couple thousand feet and then have another brief climb back up to the mile 17 aid station. Right after this aid station you start the biggest most intimidating climb up to the top of Lone Peak. This climb is also very 14eresq, very steep grade, lots of crawling on hands and knees to get over features. It was a mental and physical grind all the way to the top. But I knew this was the last major climb of the race and I was pretty much home free after that.
Once I topped out on the summit of Lone Peak, I got a good look at the terrain ahead. It was not going to be as easy as I thought. Coming off of lone peak was almost harder than hiking up it. The trail down lone peak was full of slippery lose talus. Anyone who has tried to run/hike on this stuff knows it is a rolled/Bloody ankle waiting to happen! I took my time coming off of Lone Peak, but it was pretty painful. Long downhill’s destroy my toes and knees, so I was incredibly happy for any slight uphill that came after that descent.
The last part of the race was kind of a blur. I do not really remember much between the descent off of Lone Peak and the last aid station. The last aid station sits on top of another 700FT climb. As soon as I hit the last aid station at mile 26ish I started doing math and realized I had a real chance at finishing sub 10 hours. I zoned out and forced myself to run every single section of downhill to the finish line. With about 3 miles left I felt my fingers and face start to go numb, for me this was a sign that I needed to put more calories and water in. I choked down the 4th full sized snickers bar for the day and drank the last of my water. Right before the finish line is one more mini climb, this climb was a sole crusher for me because I was really chasing that sub 10 hour finish. As soon as I hit the top of that last hill there was a volunteer cheering people on. I told her I really wanted to finish sub 10 hours. Immediately after I said that she started screaming and cheering me on and shouting words of encouragement. Its amazing how someone cheering for you turns everything around. I came out of the trees and could see the finish, I had 9:54:00 on my watch and began to sprint the last section of the race. I managed to finish in 9:56:00, which I am incredibly proud of! This is a definite repeat race for me!
The most important thing I learned on race day was I love doing this, I love running ultra distances, I love being in the mountains, I love the community, and I love feeling like I am a part of something bigger! And the people who Volunteer for these races make them what they are.
Here is my snapchat story from the day!
Distance – 30.8 Miles
Vert – 10,620FT
Calories Burned – 5,201 (So many gummy bears)