Witty, wise and welcoming, Dean Johnson is a popular southern Alberta running coach and race director. He has coached more than 200 athletes over the past nine years, including Chelsey Topping, who represented Canada at Big’s Backyard Ultra World Championships in 2020; he is also one of four volunteer race directors for the Lost Soul Ultra (lsu)—the only Canadian qualifying 100-km race for the Western States 100.
Johnson “eats, sleeps and dreams lsu, and has really taken the race to a higher level of professionalism,” says fellow race director Marc Hayward. He also acts as liaison between lsu and the City of Lethbridge Parks and Recreation Department, whose historic coulees were the site of the last major First Nations battle on Canadian soil between the Blackfoot and Cree Confederacies.
He is also known for supporting other southern Alberta race directors with guidance on logistics and race course development, and in addition to his coaching and his work as an IT management professional, he still finds time to enter races himself.
Penni Wilson, a member of the Lethbridge Trail Runners, sums Johnson up: “Linking people to running and racing opportunities, building confidence and competence so people feel empowered to run and promoting an inclusive running culture that creates social connections.”—