Adding international flare to a Montana-style race, Italy’s Franco Collé (interview) and Sweden’s Emelie Forsberg (interview) used their respective technical-running prowess to pull away from the rest of the men’s and women’s fields at the 2015 The Rut 50k and to pull ahead in the Skyrunner World Series ultra-division rankings.
As usual, we’ll be updating this article with additional results as well as links to Rut-related articles, photo galleries, and race reports. Check back!
iRunFar’s coverage of the 2015 The Rut 50k is brought to you by Salomon. Thank you, Salomon.
2015 The Rut 50k Men’s Race
The first 11 or so miles of The Rut 50k course are runnable–in a ski resort kind of way–with those miles spent on singletrack and dirt roads. This terrain favored the fast leg turnover guys, and the leader and pace pusher through both mile 5 and 11 was Mario Mendoza, with his friend and training partner, Max King, right there with him. Behind them, at both time checks, was a long string of 15 or so men, all at close distance.
From mile 11, the course climbs steeply to the top of Headwaters Ridge, and then it makes the day’s most technical descent down that ridge. It was on Headwaters that Italian Franco Collé (interview) and Spaniard Cristofer Clemente (interview) applied their oft-used-in-Europe technical-running ability to surge to the front of the field. Franco and Cristofer are both competing for the Skyrunner World Series ultra-division title, and this season they’ve dueled each other multiples times. The pair ran together or within contact of each other for several miles, including up the long, steep, and rocky ascent of 11,000-plus-foot Lone Peak at mile 20.
We saw the pair at both the bottom and top of the final climb of Andesite Mountain, at miles 25 and 26, and Franco held a 2:30 lead at the bottom and a lead of just over a minute at the top. Cristofer had surged the uphill, but Franco re-extended his lead back to 2:30 at the finish line, opening things back up on the final downhill. Rolling across the finish in respective first and second places, they greeted each other warmly.
At the finish line, it was just 10 more minutes before third place Matt Shryock (interview) came through after having put on a heckuva racing show. The American hung around the top five or six men for the race’s early, runnable miles. On the steep climb to Headwaters Ridge between miles 11 and 15, Matt moved up into third position, and held tight to it from there to the finish. While he was unable to challenge for first or second place, he was also unchallenged from behind for his podium spot, either. Matt’s finish, his third here at The Rut 50k, represents his fastest by about a half hour.
The rest of the men’s top 10 trickled into the finish another 10 minutes back of Matt, and it contained fourth place Mattias Messner, fifth place Edward Farley, and sixth place Max King. Max, who ran with the lead for the race’s first third, said at the finish that the steep and technical sections just weren’t his kind of course, though he had a really good time out there. Luke Nelson finished seventh, improving upon his last year’s performance here by an hour, an excellent turnout for him. Allan Spangler, Gabe McGowan, and Kyle Barrett rounded out the men’s top 10.
Early leader Mario Mendoza dropped with a minor injury.
- Franco Collé (Tecnica) — 5:16:58 (interview)
- Cristofer Clemente (Land) — 5:19:28 (interview)
- Matt Shryock (Inov-8) — 5:29:00 (interview)
- Matthias Messner — 5:38:42
- Edward Farley — 5:39:35
- Max King (Salomon) — 5:43:39
- Luke Nelson (Patagonia) — 5:47:51
- Allan Spangler — 5:53:12
- Gabe McGowan — 5:54:30
- Kyle Barrett — 5:57:29
2015 The Rut 50k Women’s Race
It was hard not to imagine this year’s The Rut 50k as anything but the Emelie Forsberg (interview) show. She has to be one of the best, if not the best, female technical downhill runner in the world. While The Rut’s course mixes in a fair bit of non-technical terrain, what’s technical here is so severely so that it has shown in previous years to whittle the winning field down to those with mad tech-running skills.
At mile 5, in the below-freezing pre-dawn, 6 women ran together, all bundled up in hats and layers, at what several described after the race as a chill and comfortable pace. At mile 11, these 6 women were strung out in a line, but still in close contact with each other. The pace of this group was pushed by Ashley Erba.
From mile 11 to mile 15, on the steep climb to Headwaters Ridge, Emelie said that the other women slowed while she maintained her pace, and she broke off ahead of that string of women. When we saw her at mile 16, near the end of the super-technical Headwaters descent, she’d carved a four-minute lead over the the rest of the field. Then, at mile 19, about a third of the way up the steep and rocky ascent to Lone Peak, she was alone and 9 minutes off the front. From there to finish, she ran unchallenged, taking her second-straight win of The Rut 50k on the heels of finishing fourth in Friday’s Vertical Kilometer and fifth in Saturday’s 25k.
With her second-place performance, Hillary Allen (interview) demonstrated that she is a rising star of American mountain running. In the early, runnable miles, Hillary was tucked in among the lead women. She would say later that she wasn’t feeling good then, or on the big climb to and descent from Headwaters Ridge between miles 11 and 15. During this time, she was running around fourth place.
However, around mile 18, she started to feel good, and she was able to put herself solidly in third position on the climb to Lone Peak. And, on the final climb, between miles 25 and 26, she moved into second position. Closing hard and hauling on the final descent, she ate into Emelie’s lead, arriving about 4:30 in arrears. Hillary’s finish represents a 30-minute improvement from her fifth place last year.
Italian Martina Valmassoi (interview) is well known as a top female ski mountaineer in Europe, and this summer she has been experimenting with trail racing. The Rut 50k was her debut ultramarathon. In the cold, early morning, Martina hung on the back of the six-girl posse before surging toward the front of the group on Headwaters Ridge. By mile 18, she found herself in second place because several women in front of her had taken a brief wrong turn.
From mile 18 to the summit of Lone Peak at mile 20, Martina moved well, putting her ski-mo climbing skills to work. After the race, Martina said she struggled between miles 25 and the finish, however, over the last climb and descent of Andesite Mountain, because she’d not raced that long before. It was here that she gave up second position and moved into third, where she would finish.
Kristina Pattison had a strong run from start to finish, seemingly tucked in just behind the lead women for the entire day. Her fourth place is 20 minutes faster than her sixth place in 2014. Anna Mae Flynn took fifth, and Meaghen Brown sixth. At the finish, Meaghen said it was one of the best races of her life, and that she put it all out there. In doing so, she ran a full 40 minutes faster than last year, the greatest 2014-to-2015 improvement among the men’s and women’s top 10 returners.
Laura Tabor, Kaitlin MacDonald, Anya Gue, and Katie French completed the women’s top 10.
Early leader Ashley Erba dropped a mile 18 with a minor injury.
- Emelie Forsberg (Salomon) — 6:25:44 (interview)
- Hillary Allen (The North Face) — 6:30:15 (interview)
- Martina Valmassoi (Salomon) — 6:41:42 (interview)
- Kristina Pattison (La Sportiva) — 6:44:54
- Anna Mae Flynn (Salomon) — 6:51:01
- Meaghen Brown — 7:09:45
- Laura Tabor — 7:16:51
- Kaitlin MacDonald — 7:32:53
- Anya Gue — 7:38:21
- Katie French — 7:41:03
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Thank you to Travis Trampe, Dominic Grossman, and Dakota Jones for their help in bringing the 2015 The Rut 50k story to the world!