Despite the cold winds and the constant threat of rain, the third annual Rotgut Race took place at Fort Walsh over the weekend.
For the third year in a row, the race took place over a different weekend. In the past it has been held in July or August. Last year the race was held the same day as Fort Walsh’s Family Fest.
The change was made so the employees at the historical site could focus their attention on the runners in particular.
“I’m always amazed that people come out for this,” said Omar Murray, event coordinator at Fort Walsh.
This year the race had a total of 22 runners come out to compete. The number is down from years previous.
Employees at the site believe the lack of runners this year is due to the constant change in date. They are trying to find a date they can keep every year to do the run, one that hopefully doesn’t conflict with any other marathons or races in the nearby area.
“The toughest race in Saskatchewan” had participants from Medicine Hat, Rosetown and even as far away as Winnipeg. The majority of the runners, however, were from the Maple Creek area.
Brenda Krueger from Winnipeg said she signed up for the race after spending the night in Cypress Hills centre block on her way to Vancouver Island.
“I’m a runner; it’s what I do. I enjoy running in different places, wherever I go,” she said.
Having never been to Cypress Hills, she was pleasantly surprised by the area and said the area was “just beautiful.”
The race had many repeat participants, who come out specifically to run the hill.
When the threat of rain created the possibility of changing the track course for safety reasons, there were a few runners upset about the possibility.
“We come out her specifically to run the hill,” said Curtis Statham from Medicine Hat. “We don’t want to run something else. It doesn’t matter if its muddy, we want to run that hill.”
The 5.3 km run had participants running up a rather large hill, across a plateau and then down that hill, only to turn around and do it all over again. The hill, coupled with the high elevation, is what makes the course difficult for the runners.
The winners of the Rotgut Race are divided into men and women.
Statham was the first to cross the finish line. He finished with a time of 28 minutes and 48 seconds. For placing first he received a national parks pass.
Douglas Hynne came in second with a time of 30.13. Hynne received a discovery pass for Fort Walsh as well as a $10 gift certificate to the Running Room.
Kevin Jesske placed third with a time of 31.48. He received a $10 gift certificate to The Running Room as his prize.
Krueger was the first woman to cross the finish life. She finished with a time of 32.35. She also received a national parks pass as her prize.
Lou-Ellen Murray placed second for the women, finishing with a time of 35.49. She declined her prize and asked it be awarded to the third place contestant.
Deanne Statham crossed the finish line with a time of 37.36 placing her in third. On top of her $10 gift certificate to The Running Room for third place, she also received the discovery pass and another $10 gift certificate.
All contestants received an ice pack for their participation in the race.