Things are going to get a bit more rocky for participants in a brand new race coming to the Crowsnest Pass. From the creators of the notorious Sinister 7 comes “Run the Rocks” on Sept. 14. The race begins at 12 p.m.
Though relatively short, “Run the Rocks” takes runners through the Frank Slide. It is not a traditional cross-country run. This race is not just about speed, but route planning, agility and co-ordination. There is no set course and success depends on the runner’s ability to plan their route. A participant's goal is to make it across the rocks, to the far side and then back to the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre.
“The idea came several years ago from my friend Fred Bradley. Fred is a local historian and supporter of heritage initiatives. We were talking one day about our other race, the Sinister 7 Ultra,” noted Brian Gallant, race director at Sinister Sports. Gallant said his friend asked about the possibility of a run across rocks. “We hummed and hawed about it for years and I just decided this was the year to make it happen. I’ve hosted races for 18 years now, many of them with a multi-sport element of special, unique challenges. It’s what we do and how we set ourselves apart. Once Fred mentioned it to me, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head,” Gallant added.
Gallant explained there wasn't really a demand for a race of this nature, but he just loved the idea and really wanted to do it. “For me, hosting these extreme events is just a lot of fun. I think once the word gets out, the race will start filling up. It's small this first year, which isn’t a bad thing at all. It gives us a chance to see what works and what doesn’t.”
“Run the Rocks” is derived from a story about Sid Choquette, a survivor of the Frank Slide in 1903. The slide happened shortly before a train from Fernie was to arrive. Choquette raced across the slide, through dust and debris, to warn the oncoming train. Choquette saved the lives of everyone on the train because he was able to make it across the boulder field in time.
With such a unique and somewhat built-in difficulty to the race, there could be a few challenges on the course, but Gallant said safety as a whole is first and foremost.
“We send racers notes about safety and what to look for. Making the competitors know the risks is the first thing. There is mandatory gear, like helmets. I will do a briefing with the runners, as well,” he said.
“This race is about finesse and strategy more than it is about speed. We also have four people on search and rescue standby in case someone does get hurt. If that happens, we will determine at that time how to best respond. It really depends on the nature of the incident,” Gallant said, adding as for liability and such, like other races, participants must sign waivers.
Kelsey Cox, assistant race director at Sinister Sports, said she is excited about the upcoming race. “I think it's going to be awesome.”
“We did have like a quick practice run last year and no one was really injured, which made me feel better about it,” she added. “I think it's going to be wicked and it's so different from anything else we do.”
Right now, Cox said, the run has 50 participants signed up - as of the week of Sept. 6. “We're expecting a lot of last minute people to sign up.”
This event would not be possible if it wasn’t for the many dedicated volunteers that come out to help, and volunteers are still needed for this year's race. If you wish to volunteer, be sure to sign up at www.runtherocks.ca/volunteer. For more information, or to request a map and race information package, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 403-826-0985.