One of the most prestigious barrel slot race events in western Canada was hosted at the Ponoka Calnash Ag Event Centre over the weekend.
The Runaway slot race is organized by Leather-N-Lace racing and brings $100,000 in prize money with it. It’s no wonder that some of the best and fastest barrel racers take it on.
This is the third year of the high stakes barrel race, explained organizer Laciee Shock-Fyfe. The race on Saturday was an open event and was a bit of a warm up jackpot for the Runaway. It’s in high demand, explained Shock-Fyfe, as there were more than 520 entries Saturday.
Racers were able to race during certain time slots, either a morning run, afternoon or early evening. This helps those competitors who are on the road at other rodeos, explained Shock-Fyfe.
For the Runaway, just over $100,000 in cash, plus prizes are handed out to the top riders in three racing divisions, said Shock-Fyfe. There were three winners of $20,000, three winners of $10,000 and six winners of $2,000.
Slots for the Runaway are bought for life — it’s capped at 165 entries — and the people who own them can allow others to use the spot. Changes can occur right up until just before a racer crosses the gate. Shock-Fyfe says it’s incredibly popular.
“I personally strive to make this organization kind, professional, bully free. That’s the corner point of what I want,” said Shock-Fyfe.
“I want to provide every competitor equal opportunity to win in a professional environment.”
And that philosophy seems to have translated well with the organization as the ag event centre stands were full during the main Sunday event.
“There wasn’t an event like the Runaway,” said Shock-Fyfe of why she decided to take this on, adding that for some competitors, this creates an opportunity at big winnings without heavy travel.
“It’s a really grassroots organization.”
A charity wine and dash fundraiser was also held where riders had to race to a barrel, drink a glass of wine and then ride to the next barrel. The funds from that event will go to the Ponoka Roping and Riding Club, the Ponoka Food Bank and the Ty Pozzobon Foundation.
As for barrel race times, the top athletes almost broke the 17 seconds mark. The arena record is at 16.824 seconds.
1D winner: Shelby Spielman on Fame N Red Hot ran 17.032 seconds
2D winner: Christine Kind on Crimson Memories ran 17.733 seconds
3D winner: Charly Rae Reeder on Frenchmans Gunner ran 18.455 seconds