The 8th Annual Bezanson Bog Cross Country Running Race was held at the Old Bezanson’s Townsite on Saturday, September 16, 2017. This race is a part of the Peace Country Wolves Cross Country Running Series, a series of local cross country races that occurs every fall in our region.

GPRC Wolves cross country runner and Bezanson’s own Anna Vandergiessen volunteers as a ‘rabbit’ leading the junior and senior elementary groups around the race course. Photo courtesy of Rick Scott.

“The Wolves X-Country running series is a group of informal, low key cross–country running races. The races and one relay are being held over a ten-week period beginning August. The Series has been set up to develop the sport of cross-country running in the Peace Country. The aim of the series is to encourage participation from athletes of all ages and ability levels.”

Excerpt from www.wolvesxcseries.com

This year’s race at the Old Bezanson Townsite saw 151 runners from all ages groups tackle the trails while enjoying the spectacular fall colours of the beautiful Smoky River Valley. Runners came from across the County of Grande Prairie and also from places like Peace River, Donnelly and Dawson Creek. The Bezanson School team had 27 runners in this year’s event and Coach (and Assistant Race Director) Chris Vandergiessen could not be more proud. 2017 age group winners at this year’s Bog include local runner Margaret Friesen who captured first place in the Master’s Women 5km race in a time of 28:23. Full race results are available at Peace Country Wolves Athletics Club .

The increase in interest over the past few years in this race is in part due to the hard work and dedication of the volunteers who help out on race day. “We cannot always count on the weather to cooperate with our race day plans, but we can bring together a great group of volunteers that are dedicated to keeping the runner’s safe and making the day a lot of fun”, says Carolyn Goetjen-Pilgrim, Race Director for the 2012-2017 Bezanson Bog. “This race brings runners and spectators from across the region in to our community and in to our historic park. Not only are we showcasing our community and history, but we are making sure they are safe and that they leave happy.”

The Glenmary Saints Cross Country team from Peace River, Alberta poses for a team picture in front of the Historic Timeline of the Bezanson Townsite. Photo Courtesy of Jordan Loughlin

Both racers and their families show up on race day and it makes for a lot of visitors to the park. The views of the Smoky River Valley never disappoint and most runners thoroughly enjoy running along the top of the river valley. This event is also part of the Wolves Series and so it is not unusual to see the GPRC cross country athlete’s participate, as well as young up and coming college runners. The support of the GPRC college team and their volunteers also helps make the day run smoothly.

GPRC Wolves Alumnus Hayden Hollowell keeps pace with some younger members of the Peace Country Wolves cross country team. Hollowell, originally from Hythe, Alberta is a past volunteer of the Bog. Photo Courtesy of Rick Scott.

“Event’s like these do not happen without the support of our volunteers and as organizers we would just like to say Thank You to all those who help out on race day,” says Goetjen-Pilgrim, “we often enlist the help of spectators, coaches and fans and we are very grateful for everyone who steps up to lend a hand, even if it is just cheering our racers on.” Organizers also would like to thank Lighthouse Mechanical, Vector Communications, Lefty’s Café, Bezanson 4H Multi-Club, Bezanson Agricultural Society, the Old Bezanson Townsite Committee, County of Grande Prairie and the Peace Country Wolves Athletic Club for their continued support of our race.

As the 8th Annual event is in the books, local runners including the Bezanson School cross country team, will be looking forward to next weekend’s race, the Steve Burgess Memorial Race, at the Wapiti Nordic Ski Trails.

By Ally Pilgrim