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Sheep River Road race rocks with families and community

Marsh brothers first and second at Sheep River Road Race 10km, Heuvers are gazelles in 5km

Family and tradition ran its course at a more than four-decade old Okotoks event.

Brothers Dan and Ben Marsh finished first and second, respectively, in the 10km run at the 41st Big Rock Runners’ Sheep River Road Race Sept. 14 in Okotoks.

“I think this is just a neat event,” said Dan,  who finished in a time of 36:34. “This is just the premier Okotoks running race.

“It’s great to have this race in town — I see so many people I know.”

Dan, who completed the 2013 Boston Marathon, got his start running at the Sheep River Road Race.

“This was the first organized road race I ever ran, in the early 2000s,” said, Dan, a 2008 Foothills Comp grad. “It got us into running for sure.”

Dan literally got Ben into the 2019 race.

“He had not intention of running it,” Dan said with a laugh. “So on Wednesday night, just before registration closed, I signed him up.”

Ben, who clocked in at 38:52, was glad his older brother went behind his back.

"It’s fun – we ran all through our youth and we had a good time  talking about the race last night, getting ready, it was very familiar,” Ben said.

The Sheep River Race has meant a lot to him.

“We ran in school a lot but it was always nice to be in the community a bit more at this race,” Ben said. “When you’re smaller, this run feels so big.”

The female top finisher in the 10km, Gillian Petit, is a graduate of Holy Trinity Academy.

“I have been running this race since I was in high school — and I went to Holy Trinity at the old school (now St. John Paul II Collegiate),” she said. “This race is part of my growing up and my community.

“I love this race.”

Petit’s time was 44:37.

A 5K family

Running just runs in the Heuver family’s veins.

Jacob Heuver, a Grade 11 student at the Comp, won the 5km at the Sheep River Road Race in a time of 18:29. His brother Josh, a Grade 9 student at Okotoks Junior High, was third at 19:16.

Nathan Heuver, a Grade 7 student at OJHS, was 10th.

“My mom (Jackie) used to do the Disney Marathons and we would watch the races,” Jacob said. “My first race was in Florida, I think it was the Disney Mile or something. I got last place, I think, but that didn’t matter. It was fun.”

There’s nothing Mickey Mouse about the Heuvers’ running ability.

“It makes it more fun to race against my brothers — and it’s more competitive,” Jacob said.

Josh agreed.

“It’s definitely competitive — it helps us do better to push ourselves,” Josh said. “I just try to follow him. I don’t ever beat him, but he does push me to keep up with him.”

Nathan admits he looks up to his bigger brothers.

“I want to try beating them one time,” he said.

Meanwhile, following in their footsteps is younger brother Noah Heuver, a Percy Pegler student, who won the 2km run in 8:11.

“Nathan usually beats me, but this year, he’s in the 5km and so I won,” Noah said.

Foothills Falcon Carson Derksen was second in the 5km at 18:48.

The 5km female winner was Cadence Laplante, a Grade 10 student at HTA.

“My goal was to go under 20 minutes, but 20:44 is still pretty good,” Laplante said. “I knew I was leading. I just wanted to keep the pace up.”

Proceeds from the Sheep River Road Race goes towards the Big Rock Runners’ efforts to promote running. That includes the club’s establishing the Okotoks Track and Cross-Country Club, which provides affordable training for youths.

The top four runners in the 5km run, as well as the top two women, Laplante and Mackenzie Neufeld, are members of the club.

“They kept coming over the finish line one after another, it was awesome,” said OTCC coach Mark Toombs, who was also the road race co-ordinator.

He was inspired to see the long-time runners and new participants in the road race.

“It is so good to see Dan Marsh, who went to school with my son,” Toombs said. “I love the fact that it is the next generation now running.

“And we still get that first generation coming back. I’m loving it.”

This year’s run was on a new course and featured a new logo on the famed running shirt.

For more information about the Big Rock Runners and OTCC go

To see the Sheep River Road Race results go to


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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