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Run an ultra Red Deer Lake school reunion

Foothills: Course carved out of a DeWinton hayfield

Friends and family were on the run at an acreage in DeWinton earlier this month.

There were 30 runners who braved the heat and ran against the clock at the Parr family acreage in DeWinton as they participated in Betty’s Backyard Ultra, which was run in conjunction with the Quarantine Backyard Ultra on July 11.

“We decided to invite a bunch of people we knew who were running the race," said Brenda Dryer, co-ordinator for the Betty's Ultra.

The Betty’s Ultra was part of the Quarantine Backyard Ultra on July 11, which had 1,200 runners.

Two of the four Quarantine organizers were Okotoks long-distance runners Dave Proctor and Daniel Bowie.

The format has runners completing a 6.71km loop every hour for as many hours as it takes to eliminate all but one competitor.

The Betty’s Ultra 1.25km loop was like W.P. Kinsella’s Field of Dreams ball diamond, except the DeWinton crew used a hayfield not a field of corn.

“About a month before the race, we created a course through the hayfield – we harrowed the course, kept mowing it, brought in some porta-potties and a hand-washing station and ran the race,” said Dryer.

The course was designed and built by Chad Parr, Betty’s son and an RDL school and Foothills Comp grad. He also ran in the event.

And like the Kinsella classic novel, when they built it, they did come – with a touch of Red Deer Lake School nostalgia.

Many of the runners were graduates of Red Deer Lake School, a hotbed for cross-country under the guidance of Donovan Martin, Jack Molyneux, Dave Wooldridge and Elizabeth Critchley.

The Betty in Betty’s Ultra is Betty Parr, a long-time Red Deer Lake School teacher.

Critchley, who has run the Boston Marathon, was at the Betty’s Ultra to cheer on her son, Greg, an RDL grad who has also run the famous Beantown race.

Greg ran a personal best of 54km.

Present RDL teacher Jennifer Hittel also ran at the Betty’s Ultra and was joined by her 17-year-old son, Alexander Stratmoen. The young runner ran 80km (12 laps) before calling it a day.

Other RDL alumni who participated in Betty’s Ultra include Carena Dean nee Parr, Darren Vangilst, and Jim Sherbut.

Jim Vangilst, Darren’s father, was the oldest runner to participate at 66 years of age.

Of the 30 runners, 13 of them had personal best long-distance runs despite heat that reached 27C.

Dryer was the top female runner at the Betty’s Ultra finishing after 16 laps. Philippe Lagace, from Calgary, was the last man standing after 17 hours in DeWinton.

The runners ran by some southern Alberta history, including a marker for the Macleod Trail along the route.

As for medals, they were wooden and home-made by Carena Dean. Recipients also received a home-made pie from Betty Parr.


Bruce Campbell

About the Author: Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell is the editor for and the Western Wheel newspaper. He is a graduate of Mount Royal College journalism program, 1991. For story tips contact
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