Prairie Spirit students hit the ground running

Pee Wee-age girls pick up speed as they run down a hill in Martensville’s Kinsmen Park

The Kinsmen Park trails in Martensville got a good workout on Thursday, September 20.

Almost 500 students from 26 elementary schools participated in one of the largest cross-country meets in Prairie Spirit School Division (PSSD). The event saw Atom and Pee Wee-age students run a two-kilometer course, while Bantam and Midget-age athletes sweated it out on a three-kilometer course.

The third annual cross-country meet was organized jointly by the three PSSD elementary schools in Martensville: Venture Heights, Valley Manor and Lake Vista.

Venture Heights School Principal Ron Biberdorf said despite the cool temperatures, the number of competitors was up over the last couple years.

“We eclipsed last year’s mark by about 100 kids,” said Biberdorf in a brief interview in between starting races at the Kinsmen Park concession building. “It’s big, but it’s workable because we collaborate equally between the schools. Each one is responsible for a different piece of the puzzle. We pull in volunteers from the community to help out. It’s great teamwork and everyone has a good time.”

Schools competing in the meet included: Aberdeen Composite, Borden, Clavet, Colonsay, Constable Robin Cameron (Beardy’s), Dalmeny High, Ecole Providence,  Hague Elementary, Hague High, Hanley, Hepburn, Lake Vista, Leask, Lord Asquith, Martensville High, Osler Elementary, Perdue, Rosthern High, Stobart Community, Ecole Traditions Elementary, Valley Manor, Vanscoy, Valley Christian Academy, Venture Heights, Waldheim, Walter W. Brown (Langham), Warman Elementary, and Warman Middle School.

Biberdorf said while the emphasis of the meet is on participation rather than competition, the event is helpful for athletes aiming to compete at the district and provincial level.

“We noticed the need for another meet a few years ago,” said Biberdorf. “There was really only one opportunity for kids to compete prior to districts, and we knew we had the facility that would be ideal for something like this.”

The walking trails in Kinsmen Park, combined with the large number of trees and ponds, as well as a good-size hill, make the cross-country run a challenging one for all ages, he said.

Biberdorf said in past years, the schools have held their Terry Fox runs in the park, so it was an obvious choice.

Bantam-age boys compete in a cross-country meet in Martensville on September 20

“A lot of people don’t realize how beautiful this park in Martensville is because they’ve never had occasion to visit it,” said Biberdorf. “We have a group from Clavet who are here for the first time, and they were just blown away with how nice it is. We enjoy showing it off.”

Biberdorf said the two and three-kilometer trails the athletes followed were mapped out by Venture Heights School administrative assistant Marianne Rempel.

“We call this the Rempel Route,” said Biberdorf with a grin. “She’s designed it all three years, and every year she tweaks it a bit to make it better.”

The event attracted about 1,000 people, including student athletes, parents and volunteers.