Bishop Hagemoen completes 50-km Trek

Bishop Mark Hagemoen ran the gruelling race holding in prayer those who attended residential schools. (Photo by Reagan King, Catholic Saskatoon News)

By Reagan King, Catholic Saskatoon News

(Article updated Oct. 1, 2021)

Bishop Mark Hagemoen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon was among hundreds of runners embarking on the “Beaver Flat 50” event Sept. 18 at Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, successfully completing the gruelling 50-km race as a personal trek to raise awareness and support for the Catholic TRC Healing Response.

Bishop Mark Hagemoen crosses the finish line of the 50-km run in just under 9.5 hours. (Screen capture image from video – Reagan King, Catholic Saskatoon News)

Conditions during the Sept. 18 event were less-than-ideal: the 28°C heat and blustering dusty winds dehydrated the runners and annoyed the observers. The rough 50-km course features 2300 meters/7545 feet of vertical gain, “challenging assumptions that the prairies are flat,” according to the event website.

Only two weeks after celebrating his 60th birthday, Bishop Hagemeon joined Jerome Montpetit of the diocese’s Sts. Benedict and Scholastica Formation Program to run the race to raise awareness and funds for the Catholic TRC Healing Response, launched by the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan in July.

Bishop Hagemoen’s run had its hills and valleys, both literal and figurative. At one point, painful cramping in his legs forced him to stop his race for over an hour.

“What quickly took a toll on everyone was the rising temperature, and the hot wind,” he said. “It blew very strongly all day – like a hot furnace. The temperature approached 30C. By mid-day, everyone was struggling with hydration – even though there were five ‘break stations’ scattered throughout the race course with plenty of water and nutritious snacks. There were several times the heavy wind actually blew you off the trail on the many ridge tops and hill sides,” said the bishop.

“So, at about 40-kilometres, I hit something I’ve never experienced before – every muscle in both legs severely cramped, including my feet. I have had cramping before, but not like this!  Other runners were very kind, and provided me with ‘salt tablets’, but the muscle spasms got worse and the pain was, well, amazing! It came to a point that I could not move – despite doing everything I could to massage the leg muscles.  I thought – that was it. I found out later, many runners do not complete this race because they ‘cramp out’,” he said.

Prayer was one factor in dealing with the forced pause, with the bishop describing a lively negotiation with the Holy Spirit to finish the race, recalling the prayer of blessing he had received from Catholic Pastoral Centre staff, led by Dianne Anderson of the Restorative Ministry Office.

“I called on the Holy Spirt to ‘carry out the blessing’. I said to the Holy Spirit: ‘I realize that there is some pride and ego speaking, but I want to finish this race!. These our your legs Lord, so, please, heal my legs to that I can finish this race – many are praying and supporting this.’  Well, the Holy Spirit came through…  it took some time and much pain to keep moving, but the legs un-seized enough so that I could keep moving and finish. I could even muster a bit of a ‘sprint’ at the finish line – for the sake of finishing well for the crowd.”

The bishop crossed the finish line just under nine-and-a-half hours after embarking on the run. Of the 159 participants registered for the “Beaver Flat 50,” 89 completed the race.

Hagemoen donned an orange shirt as he finished the run, a sign of solidarity and support for those who attended residential schools, and for ongoing healing and reconciliation efforts.

In addition to the negotiation with the Holy Spirit during his moment of crisis on the run, the bishop reported that he prayed five rosaries during the event, with a recurring reflection on the similarities between a runner embarking on a difficult trek and the long and hard process of healing and reconciliation.

The province-wide fund-raising Catholic TRC Healing Response appeal was launched by the Catholic Bishops of Saskatchewan to “support Residential School survivors and their communities, and to engage more deeply in our own ongoing commitment and response to the Truth and Reconciliation process,”  through consultation and collaboration with Survivors, Elders, Knowledge Keepers, Chiefs, and other affected community members. To learn more or to make a gift, go to:

“I extend my genuine thanks to members of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in Elrose, SK, for their generosity and effort in arranging the trip and providing accommodations to enable me to take on the challenge of the 50-km Trek – including Irene Brown and Gerald MercierJim and Fr. Habila Musa,” said Bishop Mark Hagemoen. “I also want to thank Reagan King for volunteering his time to drive the racers to-and-from the event, and for providing vital aid station support on the course.”

For more information on the Truth and Reconciliation Healing Fund, please visit



(Editor’s Note:  Reagan King was the volunteer “driver and support person” for Bishop Mark Hagemoen and Jerome Montpetit on Sept. 18, assisting and enabling them to tackle the recent 50-km “Beaver Flat 50” event. A law student at the University of Saskatchewan, King also works part-time at the Catholic Pastoral Centre.)