The Vertical Kilometer World Circuit continues in Montana, tUSA with Run the Rut, today it was the Lone Peak VK. It may not be the steepest VK on the circuit but it certainly is dramatic with the finish line high in the sky, Lone Peak summit was always visible.
The route is steep and direct in the early stages following mainly expansive ski trails. At the Bone Crusher, the runners go to the impressive Alto ridge, here it gets steep, gnarly and technical with plenty of hands-on-knees action and scrambling with some via ferrata before the final sections of exposed rock and loose terrain to the summit.
The early stages were always going to be about finding a rhythm and tackling the early steep and slippery gradients. The route was wide though and overtaking was no issue. The mass start soon became single-file as the gradient took it’s toll. Mike Popejoy was the main protagonist Scott Patterson, race RD Mike Foote and JP Donovan following.
For the ladies, Laura Orgue was in her own race extending a convincing lead on the early slopes and once at halfway, she eased off the pressure knowing victory was secure. Behind, Jennifer Kunzman, Beth Shumante and Rachel Poulton followed.
Altitude played a key factor in the Lone Peak VK, starting above 2000m is very difficult for those with little or no adaptation. When combined with challenging terrain, this only adds to the problem. Unlike other VK’s the Lone Peak VK is unique with its mixture of surfaces. The loose and large rocks create many frustrations as often it stops participants getting a rhythm, this is contrasted by the early sections when it’s possible to find a good momentum despite the steep gradients. The summit arrives at a lung busting 3400m altitude.
Through Bone Crusher, Laura Orgue was over 10-minutes clear of the competition but the men’s race was much closer with Mike Popejoy holding a 30-second lead over JP Donovan and then Mike Foote followed further back
In the final section to the summit, the terrain becomes much steeper and underfoot it is very lose. This played into JP Donovans skill set and he took the lead and victory, 21-seconds ahead of Mike Poejoy and Mike Foote finished 3rd another 18-seconds back.
Laura Orgue crossed the line in 54:29 and Jennifer Kunzman and Beth Shumnante placed 2nd and 3rd, their times 1:08:38 and 1:09:46 respectively.
Attention now turns to Saturday’s 28km event which starts at 0800, both Orgue and Donovan will try for the double! It will prove to be fast race, the mixed terrain includes single track, jeep roads, alpine ridge lines and at the summit of the iconic Lone Peak a gnarly and technical descent brings the runners back to the resort of Big Sky where the race started.
1. JP Donovan (USA) – 47’27”
2. Mike Popejoy (USA) – 48’48”
3. Mike Foote (USA) – 50’06”
4. Scott Patterson (USA) – 51’18”
5. Jan Margarit Solé (ESP) – 51’41”
1. Laura Orgué (ESP) – 54’29”
2. Jennifer Kunzman (USA) – 1h08’38”
3. Beth Shumate (USA) – 1h09’46”
4. Rachel Poulton (USA) – 1h10’44”
5. Emily Kipp (USA)- 1h14’51”