By definition, an Ultra is any race longer than 26.2 miles or 42 kilometers. Most Ultras are either nice round numbers such as 50K, 100K, 50 Miles, 100 Miles and even 24 hours, or they are a specific distance between two points, e.g. the Badwater Ultra is 135 miles which is the distance from the lowest point in Death Valley to the highest point (original route) at Mount Whitney in the contiguous United States.
That's most Ultras - a nice round number or a specific distance between two unique and iconic spots on a map. Because Montana is so awesome and has so much fantastic public land (Thank you Teddy Roosevelt!), we are doubly blessed. We are going to do both in one route and in two directions.
One start/finish line is on the banks of the Madison River and one start/finish line is at Monument Ridge on top of the Gravelly Range.
The Madison River is already famous among fly fishing aficionados. It's a blue ribbon trout stream. This means it's a fast flowing, cold water, not too deep, high elevation river with incredible rainbow, brown, and cut throat trout. People from around the world come to Southwest Montana for the sole purpose of casting a dry fly onto its waters.
Monument Ridge is the highest point on the Gravelly Range Road. It is 9,587 feet above the oceans. When all the ups and downs are calculated, it's about 6,000 net vertical feet above the Madison River.
Here's the cool part. The road distance between the banks of the Madison River and Monument Ridge?
So you have a choice. A 50K uphill that starts on the cool, calming and tranquil waters of the Madison River and finishes at Monument Ridge, or a 50K downhill that starts at 9,587 feet and offers view sheds where you can see 100 miles on a clear day and finishes on the banks of the Madison River.
How cool is that?
Choose wisely. The route, obviously in either direction, is entirely on a decent quality gravel road. A regular car can travel on this road. In no way are these trail Ultras. There is basically no flat ground on the entire route. It's either leaning or crazily going uphill or downhill. If you're an Upper, there will be some downhill stretches, but not too many over the 50K. If you're a Downer the same thing holds in reverse. According to Garmin data collected from the Tour de Gravelly which covers the same route, the net gain/loss from the Madison River to Monument Ridge is 6,061 feet. That's a shitload of net gain/loss over 50K on a road.
If you've never done an Ultra before, here's your chance. Sometimes you gotta say WTF. We've never been an RD for an Ultra and we’re saying WTF to two of 'em!
Just those three words sound cool. They're even cooler sounding when you can add "and it had a 6,000 foot net gain/loss on the route."
Hit the ‘order’ link and we’ll see you in July!