A former Drumheller woman has taken up running ultramarathons and in the future is looking to develop a course in Drumheller.
Jessi Durant–Chayer has taken up the sport of running ultramarathons. These are foot races that are longer than a traditional marathon distance. A fitness enthusiast, over the last two years she has become intrigued with the extended distances. Last summer she completed a 50 mile run from the intersection of Highway 21 and Highway 564 to Drumheller.
“There are actually a few ultra events locally (in Alberta), but they are not as frequent as other places,” she said. “There isn’t anything locally around here, but if I was going to do something I want to do a homemade one. Right now I just want to figure out what I am capable of and do it for myself.”
Last summer she set out and was joined by a friend, her sister on roller skates, a friend on a bike, and her husband as a pacing crew.
Her race was also to raise awareness and funds. Her husband is a firefighter, and that year he lost a friend and colleague to suicide. This was a man who was a speaker who worked to support firefighters morale and mental health.
“The run is to raise awareness,” she said, adding she encourages people to donate to support suicide prevention, PTSD and mental health’s awareness of servants of society.
“I just thought, from my perspective, the best way for people to deal with these issues is to give to those communities themselves,” she said.
She is planning to make the trek again this August, but starting at Strathmore and running all the way to the Drumheller Fire Department, a distance of 101 kilometres.
Her long term vision is to create a run in and around the Drumheller Valley.
“Ideally I want to create a badlands, Drumheller oriented ultramarathon,” she said.
Initially, she thought a run through the valley would be spectacular, however, trail conditions in the badlands clay can become treacherous with a change in the weather, and she would like to make it low impact on the landscape. Now she is looking at perhaps a trail along the top of the valley, where the terrain is more grassy.
“If I could go out with somebody who has access to a quad or something so we can get it done faster, and have a program to measure distance,” she said. ‘I would like to race along the valley and I would love to know what that distance would be.”
She hopes there are others in the community who would be interested in developing a loop or taking on a local ultramarathon and she would like to have it ready for the summer of 2020.
To learn more, or to contact Durant-Chayer, check out her Learning to Live – Ultra Halften Facebook page.