Views from Broken Arrow Youth Ranch.

Cross country race in southern Sask. celebrates healing power of running

When Saskatchewan’s Rockglen School recognized Mental Health Awareness Week a few years ago, the group now known as Prairie Run Crew made the 400-kilometre trek from Saskatoon to lead a running clinic there.

“We were trying to get our students into something that was easily available to them as far as cost, and a healthy alternative to dealing with stress,” explains Gina Stewart, who was on the Rockglen school board at the time. “Our small communities are dealing with drugs and alcohol and ways of dealing with life that are not good. So we wanted to really promote a healthy alternative to dealing with stress and mental health — learning how to take care of our minds and our bodies.”

The clinic inspired Stewart to keep making space for running. She’s now the program director at Broken Arrow Youth Ranch — a non-profit, faith-based working ranch in southern Saskatchewan that works with families and youth in crisis — and last fall, the organization mowed running and walking trails through its lands.

“It’s a great way to get out and have some fun,” Stewart says. “It’s really healing and therapeutic.”

Now, Stewart hopes to bring people from across the province to Broken Arrow to experience the trails and a unique family-friendly weekend in the heart of ranch country, all while raising funds for Broken Arrow.

Views from Broken Arrow Youth Ranch.
Views from Broken Arrow Youth Ranch.

Run the Ranch takes place Saturday, June 10. Here’s what you need to know about the race:

What: The one-day family friendly event is open to walkers and runners alike.

Student races include a 3km race for youth under 15; a 4km race for youth under 16 and a 5km race for youth 16 and older. Those racing in the open category can register for 5- or 10km distances.

Races take place on grassy cross-country style terrain with rolling hills.

“There’s a few places where it’s quite a steep incline and quite a steep decline. So it really is a great variety,” Stewart says. “It’s not going to be boring.”

Run the Ranch is in the heart of ranching country and Stewart says participants can expect a unique western experience. Hay rides will be offered throughout the day and participants can enjoy a pitchfork steak fondue lunch (included in the cost of registration). There will also be an open music jam session.

Views from Broken Arrow Youth Ranch.
Run the Ranch races take place on grassy cross-country style terrain with rolling hills.

When: Run the Ranch will take place Saturday, June 10. Race packages and bibs can be picked up on site before the races begin.

Who: The race is organized by, and a fundraiser for, Broken Arrow Youth Ranch, a non-profit Christian organization that works with children and families with the aim of keeping families together. It takes in children who may otherwise enter the foster care system or who are struggling with behavioural issues and gives them experience working on a ranch while being part of a supportive family unit and learning how to develop a relationship with Jesus Christ.

“Our mission out at the ranch is helping families heal and grow. Our overall vision is to restore families and help students love themselves, love others, and love God,” Stewart says.

Where: The ranch is located 20 kilometres south of Wood Mountain and roughly 420 kilometres south of Saskatoon. Those looking to stay overnight nearby might want to look at hotels in Limerick, Rockglen or Assiniboia or book a campsite at Wood Mountain Regional Park or the East Block Rock Creek Campground in Grasslands National Park. For more information on where to stay, check out Run the Ranch’s Race Roster page.

“We would love it for families to make it a weekend thing, to come and spend some quality time together,” Stewart says.

How to register: Registration is through Race Roster. All student races cost $15, while open events cost $75. Proceeds support operational costs of Broken Arrow Youth Ranch.