For Bashaw School’s first ever attempt at hosting a cross country event, it turned out to be a huge success.
The school took on the challenge Sept. 12 with the Rebels Town and Country run as the opening race of the Battle River Series, which features races from elementary grades all the way up to senior high and an open run. The event saw 660 athletes take part, something that astounded the race organizers.
“We’re very happy with how the event ran, but have identified areas in which we could improve,” said Kyle McIntosh race director and marshall, who is also a teacher at Bashaw School and helps coach the cross country team with Lori Pearson, Myranda Shepherd and Stacey Pierson.
“This was our launching point. Our school is hosting 16 distinct tournaments this year and most of them are in sports we’ve built up confidence in hosting over the years.”
He added that no commitment has been made yet on next year, but the school is definitely entertaining the idea especially knowing the great comments heard from those attending this inaugural event.
One of those that applauded the race, from its layout to organization, was New Norway coach Steve Searle. He was very impressed with the variety of terrain and just how smoothly the event went off.
“He’s the race director of New Norway’s infamous Spartan Tough run. For me to hear that is great,” added McIntosh.
In the overall team categories, Stettler Elementary captured the top spot followed by fellow Stettler school William E. Hay placing first in the junior high event. Meanwhile, Ecole Camrose Composite High School won the senior high event.
As for the Bashaw Rebels, Annika Harris was stellar in winning the Grade 7 girls event in a time of 15 minutes and 54.82 seconds, finishing four seconds ahead of a girl from St. Augustine Catholic School in Ponoka.
The other Bashaw runner to make the top three on the day was Ryker Sterner, who took second in the Grade 5 boys race with a time of 12:41.31.
While those two students are rising stars according to McIntosh, there were many others that ran very well for the Rebels on the day. That included Clairese Vallet with a fifth (15:31.05) in the Grade 8 girls, Brock Dawbin winding up sixth (26:47.62) in the Grade 9 boys, Alyssa Congdon finishing seventh (15:41.62) in the Grade 5 girls, Tucker Lourance in eighth (13:38.12) in the Grade 6 boys and Trinity Congdon ending up eighth (16:10.92) in the Grade 9 girls event.
He also mentioned that Addison Vallet in the senior high intermediate boys event had a tough race and finished well back, while Catharina Brosinsky had an unfortunate injury early on which forced her to retire from the race.
As for the event and the course, McIntosh explained it was a spectacular challenge to implement especially since at least some of the race would have to be run on pavement.
“Reducing the use of pavement was a priority, so the course snaked around the community using existing trails, alleyways and some detours through grassy areas,” he said.
“As much as possible, I wanted the run to emphasize ‘country’ part, so we followed the edge of town and highlighting some of Bashaw’s unique scenery.”
That included near some old farm buildings, the bird trail, some wonderful gardens and yard art plus the pond and the water tower.
“Through some great cooperation from the town, the RCMP and the Buffalo Lake Event Centre, they helped make the route possible,” McIntosh noted.
“Organizing this was a monster task and to see that many runners, it could have been a disaster if we didn’t have the organization and the nearly 90 volunteers we had. Also, having former Rebels cross country athletes Scott Kohlman and Karlee Pearson at the event was incredible.”