Summer is flying by and we’re just a month out from the Rut Mountain Runs. We couldn’t be more excited! The rugged courses at the Rut are notorious for how hard they are on shoes. The RE staff rounded up some of our favorites that we think will be a good fit for the rocky, steep terrain at the Rut (and your other mountain adventures). If you haven’t found the perfect Rut shoe, now’s the time!

What makes a great Rut shoe?

A runner descending loose rock at the Rut. Photo: Votography Images

If you’re signed up for the Rut, you probably already know that the course features very steep climbs and descents on rough terrain. What entails “rough terrain”? Loose rocks, talus, tree roots, boulders, and narrow mountain singletrack. Sounds like fun to us! Even more fun if you have the right shoe for the job. Here are a few things we look for in a good Rut shoe:

  • Rock plate
    • What is a rock plate? Rock plates are thin sheets of plastic laminated into a trail shoe. They are typically between the rubber tread and foam midsole material. What do they do? When you step on sharp, pointy rocks they help to deflect that impact. Yes, you still feel rocks. But instead of feeling a sharp stab on the bottom of your foot, it’s more of a dull stab. In a race like the Rut, or other mountain runs, having that added protection can make all the difference over the course of many miles.
  • Aggressive outsole
  • Durable upper
  • Enough cushion (but not too much)
  • Secure fit
  • At the end of the day, a shoe you feel comfortable and confident in on challenging terrain

    A line of runners working their way up Lone Peak. Photo: Votography Images

Some of our favorites

We have many trail shoes in stock that could be a good fit for you. Any of our team members are happy to help you find the perfect shoe for training or race day! Here are a few of out favorites:

The North Face Vectiv Enduris

The new colors of the Vectiv line are awesome!

We’ll defer to The North Face Athlete and Rut Race Director Mike Foote for a review on the Enduris: “The Vectiv Enduris would be my shoe of choice for the demands of the Rut Mountain Runs.  The outsole is grippy, but not overly aggressive.  The upper is comfortable and holds your foot snug for the technical sections.  And when it’s time to turn the legs over a bit faster, the shoe responds well to speed. Overall, the shoe offers good protection and comfort without sacrificing performance.” Sounds good to us!

Saucony Peregrine 11

The Peregrine has always been a favorite Rut shoe. It has one of the most aggressive outsoles on a trail shoe we carry. There’s lots of rubber under your foot with a rock plate and moderate amount of cushioning. With a 4mm drop, it offers a close to the ground feel, but plenty of protection.

Altra Lone Peak 5

The Altra Lone Peak 5

The Lone Peak is Altra’s classic trail shoe. While it’s named after the Lone Peak in Utah’s Wasatch Range, it will be right at home on the trails on Big Sky’s Lone Peak. It offers a close to the ground feel thanks to it’s “zero-drop,” foot-shaped midsole. It has not too much, not too little cushioning and a rock plate to protect you from the plethora of rocks you will step on at the Rut.

Brooks Cascadia 16

The grippy bottom and deep lugs of the Brooks Cascadia 16.

The Cascadia is a fan-favorite trail shoe. It just got a fresh update, and it’s phenomenal! According to Brooks, this new version is “a smoother, lighter version of our iconic trail shoe.” We agree! And for a race like the Rut, we’re excited about the bigger lugs on the outsole and the forefoot rock plate (or as Brooks calls it, their “Ballistic Rock Shield.” Now THAT sounds rugged!).


Bitterroot Runoff  Recap 2021

We had a beautiful morning at the Bitterroot Runoff Trail Runs this Saturday! Runners got to experience private singletrack outside of Lolo, followed by pancakes, Big Dipper Ice Cream, and Big Sky Beer after the race. 


Typically, the Bitterroot Runoff is our first race of the year in mid April. This year, due to COVID concerns, we chose to push it to July.  

Compared to last time we raced at this venue during the Hootenanny, the weather was the polar opposite.  Instead of 33 degrees Fahrenheit and rain all day, the trails were dry and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.  Fortunately on race day, the temperature stayed relatively cool early in the day and it wasn’t too smokey.  


On the men’s side, we saw a father-son-duo Michael Curtis and Ian Curtis take the titles for the 5-mile and 10-mile, respectively.  Ian, a former Hellgate High School cross country runner who now runs collegiately in Minnesota, had a battle on his hands with Mike Adams out of Ronan.  On the climbs, Ian would build a gap from Adams, but on the descents, Adams would blow past Ian.  This game continued until the final mile of the race, where Ian pulled away and came away with the win.  


The women’s race saw Nicole Murray win the 10-mile for the second consecutive year.  Nicole will be attempting the Bitterroot Runoff/Treadmill Challenge double this year, with only 2 days of separation between the two races.  In the 5-mile, Leilani Contos came away with the title.  Leilani has been cleaning up at our races, most recently winning the 10k at Mountain to Meadow.  



You can find the photos from the race HERE. Thank you to our lovely photographer, Anastacia Wilde, for being out there crushing it on race morning. 

Thank you to the volunteers to showed up and helped make this event possible.  We had great volunteers helping out at packet pick up, manning the aid station, and handing out breakfast and ice cream after the race. 

Huge thank you to all of our great sponsors for supporting this event. We had gels and electrolyte drinks from Hammer Nutrition keeping everyone fueled during the race, Joe from Big Sky Brewery handing out post-race refreshments, Evie from Sapphire Physical Therapy giving out post race massages, Big Dipper Ice Cream cooling everyone down afterwards, and Saucony supporting this event!

Runners ascend the steep northwest ridge of Mt. Sentinel. Photo: Seth Orme

Participants were met with temps pushing the 70s and loads of sunshine for the 2021 Mt. Sentinel Hill Climb. Rolling starts helped to spread people out, as racers left the M trailhead anytime between 5pm and 6:30pm. After collecting themselves at the top from a big effort up Sentinel, people migrated downhill to enjoy a mug full of Big Dipper ice cream. Thanks to all that came out and made it a special day running trails in Missoula! And a special thanks to the volunteers out doing trail work on the M Trail!

Special congrats to Kris Brown and Katrina Miller on getting engaged at the M on their warm-down after the race!

Women’s Race

Erin Clark running to victory. Photo: Seth Orme

There was a lot of speculation prior to the race of what would happen between Hoka ONE ONE trail runner Erin Clark and perennial master’s champion Nicole Murray. Murray came into this race with 6 of the 10 fastest times ever posted on the hill climb route, with a personal best of 24:46, and a win at the 2019 event and 2020 Treadmill Challenge. Clark came to the hill climb as an 11-time Division I All American and former pro track runner who is seeing tremendous success in longer trail races. But could she handle the steep grade and rocky trail on Sentinel?

Out of the gate, there was a surprise with Michelle Hiland nabbing the $50 M premium in 7 minutes and 40 seconds (the fastest women’s time to the M on Strava). As the trail steepened, Hiland faded back and passed the lead off to Clark, with Murray in hot pursuit. Clark hammered the ridge, working hard to hold off a charging Murray. Clark took the win in a speedy 25:32, the 7th fastest women’s time ever posted on the Hill Climb route. Clark never breathed easy, as Murray made it to the summit a mere 8 seconds behind Clark in 25:40. Hiland finished third in 27:13.

Top 5 Women:

  1. Erin Clark (Hoka ONE ONE) – 25:32.97
  2. Nicole Murray – 25:40.93
  3. Michelle Hiland – 27:13.51
  4. Heather Brooks (La Sportiva) – 28:33.95
  5. Katy Robin-Garten – 28:58.41

Men’s Race – New Record!

Adam Peterman, trail runner for Hoka ONE ONE and Hill Climb Race Director, came into this race as the clear favorite. Peterman boasted the fastest known time on the Hill Climb route in 18:39 from 2019. But professional and Olympic mountain biker Howard Grotts ran the Sentinel ridge in 19:50 last week. Could Grotts take down Peterman come race day? This question hung in the air as the gun went off and the most stacked field in Sentinel Hill Climb history charged up the M trail.

Adam Peterman on his way to a new fastest known time and course record. Photo: Seth Orme

Former North Dakota State track athlete Grady Anderson led most of the climb up the M in a Hail Mary attempt at snatching the $50 M premium. But Peterman didn’t yield, and blazed by him to grab the premium in 6:05 (second fastest M Trail climb only to Grotts’ 6:04 from earlier this month). Peterman stormed ahead, growing the gap between himself, Grotts, and the rest of the field. Running every single step of the way, Peterman crossed the line in 18:31, an astonishing new course record and fastest known time. Grotts was second place in 19:25. It should be noted that Grotts’ time is the fastest ever run outside of Peterman’s former record. Rounding out the top 3 was Peterman’s fellow Hoka ONE ONE teammate Kris Brown in 20:35.

This was the most competitive men’s field ever assembled for the Sentinel Hill Climb. Thirteen men ran under 24 minutes. The top 5 were all well under 22 minutes.

Top 5 Men:

  1. Adam Peterman (Hoka ONE ONE) – 18:31.26
  2. Howard Grotts (Specialized) – 19:25.72
  3. Kris Brown (Hoka ONE ONE) – 20:35.44
  4. Jeff Mogavero – 21:10.13
  5. Monte Cole – 21:40.98

Results and History

Full results for the 2021 event, as well as all former Hill Climbs, are available at Competitive Timing’s website here.

Photos by Seth Orme will be available soon. Stay tuned!

Top 10 women’s and men’s times were compiled by Tim Mosbacher in this 2019 post for the Montana Trail crew:

Thank you to our sponsors for making this event possible! We had Sapphire Physical Therapy‘s own John Fiore out marking the course, Kiefer and Rhea of Momentum Athletic Training handing out the cash premiums, Altra Running at the base with demo shoes, Hammer Nutrition during the race, and Big Dipper Ice Cream after.

All smiles at the Mt Sentinel Hill Climb! Photo: Seth Orme

Runners on their way up the northwest ridge of Sentinel. Photo: Seth Orme

Frozen Feet 2021
January 1st – 31st

Congrats! We had a group of 714 participants that logged over 40,000 miles in this year’s Frozen Feet Challenge! This means we almost went around the world twice – impressive!

For those of you who purchased a Frozen Feet t-shirt, the tees are available for pickup in the RE’s basement during the month of February. There will be a clipboard with your name and shirt size you requested – please check your name off the list and choose the size shirt you ordered. Just a reminder, the shirts are unisex.
Once again, CONGRATS on your achievement! You guys ROCK!

Questions? Please contact Ashley (