The Rut Seeks Diverse Group of Runners for 2022 Races

Montana mountain running festival The Rut partners with Inclusive Outdoors Project in 2022 in hopes of diversifying its starting field.

By on January 12, 2022 | Comments

In 2022, the starting lines at The Rut Mountain Runs in Big Sky, Montana, look to be more diverse than ever.

On Monday, the Inclusive Outdoors Project announced it will designate 40 entry spots among the four September races for runners from “historically marginalized groups.” The organization invites adaptive; Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC); and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and/or Questioning, Intersex, Asexual, Two-Spirit, and more (LGBTQIA2S+) athletes to apply.

Registration for The Rut opened on January 11 and sold out within a few hours. The September event comprises a 50-kilometer, 28k, 11k, and the Lone Peak Vertical Kilometer, a five-kilometer race with over 1,000 meters of vertical gain. Held at southwestern Montana’s sprawling Big Sky Resort, each race promises stunning scenery.

The Rut Diversifies in 2022: Application Instructions

In an effort to diversify the event, race organizers partnered with Inclusive Outdoors Project to open an application pool exclusively for minorities.

The groups also offer a scholarship program for anyone who’s interested in applying but may require financial assistance. The application period runs from January 11 through 25, after which the Inclusive Outdoors Project will carry out a week-long selection process.

Joseph Gray - The Rut 25k 2015

Joseph Gray making his way up an incline at The Rut 25k race in 2015. Photo: iRunFar

“The application process is open to those that identify as historically excluded, i.e., folks of color, folks with disabilities, and LGBTQIA2S+ folks,” the Inclusive Outdoors Project said. “We are working closely with the organizers of The Rut to help subsidize the cost of the entry fees. The Rut has generously agreed to cover [the cost for] all those that need financial assistance.”

Inclusive Outdoors Project, based in Bozeman, Montana, primarily aims to facilitate ice climbing and skiing in adaptive and minority communities. The organization plans to conduct clinics at the 2022 Ouray Ice Festival; meanwhile, the partnership with The Rut looks like its first foray into running.

Mike Foote, the race director of The Rut and himself an ultrarunner, is excited that the race can help start moving the needle on some much-needed changes within the community.

“On a personal level, I’m excited to see the sports of trail running and ultrarunning grow and become more diverse in the coming years. And it’s obvious that will only happen if this community takes an active role in creating space for that inclusion and diversity,” said Foote.

“The Rut is one of the bigger levers I can pull on to work toward these values and the partnership with Inclusive Outdoors Project was a no-brainer. My The North Face teammate (and multiple-time Rut finisher) Vasu Sojitra, who founded Inclusive Outdoors Project, reached out to me about a collaboration with The Rut a couple of months back and this program came into existence. We hope it can help move the needle in a small way.”

If you fit the project’s target audience of athletes, apply through this link. In the process, you’ll self-identify, tell your running story, and outline what you’d like to bring back to your community from your race experience. Scholarship applications are as simple as a checkbox.

The Rut Big Sky Montana

A view of Big Sky resort outside Bozeman, Montana, site of The Rut Mountain Runs. Photo: iRunFar

The Rut Details and Winning Times

In addition to The Rut’s four races, runners can register for The Rut Trifecta. The brutal circuit comprises the 50k, 28k, and vertical kilometer. With one race on each of the festival’s three days, the Trifecta takes runners to the 11,250-foot Lone Peak summit three separate times. The Rut also hosts a kids’ race. The Rut Runts Run covers a one-kilometer loop at the Big Sky Resort base area.

In 2021, Jennifer Lichter posted the third-best time ever for the 50k course, winning the race in 6:14. Meanwhile, Michelino Sunseri won the men’s 50k in 5:25.

The Rut’s race organizers also implement their own inclusion policies. View the race’s rules for transgender and non-binary athletes here.


Ligia Madrigal taking a rest at one of the aid stations at The Rut 50k in 2015. Photo: iRunFar


Flags on The Rut course. Photo: iRunFar

Sam Anderson
Sam Anderson writes any articles he can talk his way into, amid a life of traveling the United States and Mexico in search of adventure and margaritas. Follow him on Instagram.