The 2017 Altra US Skyrunner Series consists of 15 races over three distances in seven different states ranging from New York to Montana to Arizona. The third event of the 2017 Altra US Skyrunner Series, The Rut Mountain Runs, recently took place in Big Sky Montana on Labor Day weekend. The Rut event includes races at all three distances: VK, 28K, and 50K. The VK has 1,000m (3280.84 feet) of vertical gain and is less than 5km in distance, the 28K has 7,800 feet of vertical gain, and the 50K boasts 10,500 feet of gain.
This year, two members of Team Altra, ambassador John Fiore, and athlete, Mike Popejoy, came away with awesome performances at The Rut. Fiore ran an impressive and demanding trifecta (all three distances on back-to-back days) winning his age group (50-59) in every single race, and posting times of 57:58:30 for the VK, 4:23:55.59 for the 28K, and 7:38:5602 for the 50K. Popejoy ran the VK and came in at a strong second overall in 48:48:16. It is no surprise that both Fiore and Popejoy did so well at The Rut Mountain Races; they are both talented runners and we expect nothing less, but there is certainly more than running involved in their success. The biggest common thread is time spent in the mountains.
Popejoy recently set the FKT for Wheeler Peak (tallest peak in New Mexico), and won the Gaspin for Aspen 15k down in Arizona where he just barely missed the course record by 16 seconds; a perfect example of how much running steep, high, and long pays off. Fiore attributes strength training, power hiking, and skimo (ski-mountaineering) to his continued success in mountain ultras. He used to spend a lot more time trying to run up steep ascents. Fellow competitors were passing him and they were hiking! Now that he’s added focus on power hiking to his training, he’s the one doing the passing. See this link for Fiore’s true tips and tricks for mastering the art of uphill running technique.
Mike and John, congratulations on your gritty performances at The Rut this year! You certainly made your Altra Family proud!