This weekend has brought runners from around the world to Big Sky, Montana for the three races in the Skyrunner World Series at The Rut. After covering the 50k distance for several years, this year we switched it up to cover the 17.6-mile (28-kilometer) event which loaded 7,500 feet (2,286 meters) of gritty climbing with a high point of over 11,000 feet altitude atop Lone Peak. It was Megan Kimmel (pre-race interview) and Hassan Ait Chaou who rose above the rest of the competitive women’s and men’s fields and emerged as victors.
In addition to this article, you can find our full play-by-play of the race as well as a collection of our pre-race interviews and previews on our The Rut 28k live-coverage page.
Special thanks to Salomon for sponsoring our coverage of The Rut 28k.
2016 The Rut 28k Women’s Race
The 2016 The Rut 28k was the Megan Kimmel (pre-race and post-race interviews) show from start to finish. As the returning champ from last year, the American had the previous experience of knowing how the course ran on her side, plus her beastly aerobic engine and ability on technical terrain. Even by mile two, with the race barely started, Megan had gapped every other woman by a minute per mile. And she was just getting started. On the steep climb to and the burly drop off Headwaters Ridge, one of the two main climb-descent combos of the course, Megan extended her gap to more than three minutes. And she repeated this on the mammoth ascent to Lone Peak at mile 10, which stands at over 11,000 feet in altitude. On the mountain, her lead was stretched to eight minutes, the largest gap she had on the women all day. She crossed the line looking elated and, quite frankly, like she had a lot left in her legs.
Second place Yngvild Kaspersen (pre-race and post-race interviews), of Norway, was no match for Megan, but the rest of the women’s field was no match for Yngvild, either. Early in the race, Yngvild and eventual third place Laura Orgué ran together, but by mile seven and the descent off Headwaters Ridge, Yngvild stepped ahead of Laura and had built a two-minute buffer over her. From there, the time gap to third place kept growing. Atop Lone Peak, where many were gasping for oxygen or tucking their heads from the below-freezing air temperature and wind, Yngvild just looked amused. A strong showing for her, for sure.
Spain’s Laura Orgué is known in the Skyrunning world for her climbing prowess, and she made this race’s uphills look much more effortless than they had to have been. However, it seems that the uber-rocky and technical downhills of The Rut 28k course challenged her, as she took them a bit more slowly and carefully than some of her other competitors. She held tight for the final podium position.
2016 The Rut 28k Women’s Results
- Megan Kimmel (ASICS) — 3:36:23 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Yngvild Kaspersen (Salomon) — 3:43:30 (pre-race and post-race interviews)
- Laura Orgué (Salomon) — 3:56:14
- Najeeby Quinn — 4:03:08
- Marta Molist — 4:04:40
- Aitziber Ibarbia — 4:07:30
- Kristi Knecht— 4:14:27
- Sarah Pizzo — 4:16:13
- Maria Zorroza — 4:24:36
- Kaitlin MacDonald — 4:30:28
2016 The Rut 28k Men’s Race
American Dakota Jones set the men’s race pace from early on, leading a long train of dudes lined up right behind him at mile two. He would continue to lead and continue to set himself apart from the rest of the field until the descent off 11,000-plus-foot Lone Peak after mile 10, where he rolled his ankle and was forced to walk off the mountain and call it a day.
When Dakota injured himself, it was the Spaniard Hassan Ait Chaou (post-race interview) who assumed the men’s lead. Prior to that, Hassan had been running strong in second place since before mile seven, on the descent from Headwaters Ridge, where he was hovering just under two minutes back of Dakota. The gap between Hassan and the rest of the field grew minute by minute as the race progressed, as such that when he crossed the line the men’s winner, there wasn’t another guy in sight for some
12 8 minutes–a relative eternity at this race distance.
Bulgaria’s Kiril Nikolov appeared to take the early race easy while moving up in the race’s second half. At mile two and mile seven, respectively, Kiril ran in sixth and eighth positions. In just two miles, however, on some more runnable terrain between miles seven and nine, Kiril surged and moved into fourth position as he started the big climb to Lone Peak. He gave up a couple positions on that rocky uphill, but took them and more back on the descent afterward. At the mile 14.5 aid station, Kiril ran in second, a position he’d hold to the finish.
Catalan Jan Margarit Solé is a relatively new name on the mountain-running scene. He started the race off casually, much like Kiril, running in the back half of the men’s top 10 for the early miles, arriving to the base of the big Lone Peak ascent at mile nine in fifth place. He killed the ascent and, in doing so, launched himself into podium position. After going over the top in third, he lost a position to eventual second-place finisher Kiril, but gained a spot when he went past the ailing Dakota. Ultimately, he crossed the line in third.
2016 The Rut 28k Men’s Results
- Hassan Ait Chaou — 3:06:39 (post-race interview)
- Kiril Nikolov — 3:14:35 (post-race interview)
- Jan Margarit (Salomon) — 3:15:00
- Michael Barlow (Salomon) — 3:15:11
- Timmy Parr (Hoke One One) — 3:22:02
- Ondrej Fejfar — 3:25:06
- Micha Steiner (Salomon) — 3:25:20
- Luke Nelson (Patagonia) — 3:25:39 (pre-race interview)
- Eugeni Gil — 3:29:26
- Eric Strabel — 3:30:43
Thank you to Sarah Bard, Corrine Malcolm, Chris Klinghagen, Ryan Lundin, Jessica Torgerson-Lundin, Lisa Verwys, Denise Ricks and family, Doug Cassaro, Taryn Graham, Ali Albayrak, and Seth Swanson for their field assistance in covering the race!