LOLO — Ian Curtis felt right at home running in the foothills just west of Lolo Saturday morning.
Curtis hasn't tried anything like the 10-mile Bitterroot Runoff trail run recently, keeping to more of a track schedule the past year at St. Olaf College in Minnesota.
In fact, including the Pengelly Double Dip that he raced in earlier this summer, the 10-miler Saturday is one of the longest he has raced in almost two years going back to 2019 or so. Just by looking at his first-place, 1 hour, 6 minute and 58 second mark you'd think the former Missoula Hellgate star runner was fresh and keeping his normal distance fitness.
He admitted he may have bitten off a bit more than he expected attempting the 10-miler as his first major long-distance workout now that he is building toward the cross country season as of two weeks ago.
"It's great to be back," he said. "I started running in the Missoula community and it's really great to be back. ... It's awesome, definitely a lot hillier than I have been running in Minnesota but it's great to back."
"The first climb was definitely hard," he added. "Towards the end it got a little rolling, my legs are not really used to that. Going up was fine but going down was definitely a shock to the system. ... It was maybe a little more than I should have done at this point but I had a good time."
Curtis starred at Hellgate where he finished second as a senior, fifth as a junior and eighth as a sophomore at the Class AA state meet in 2019, '18 and '17.
He started his college career off on a weird note, missing out on cross country because of the pandemic. But he said he is looking forward to the upcoming season.
Ian wasn't the only Curtis racing Saturday, either. His dad, Michael, took first in the 5-mile race, the first of the morning, in 38:05.24. He won by about three minutes.
Ian came into the race with a bit of a goal against his dad.
Michael ran the same course Saturday's race was held at when he ran the Hootenanny Relay in May — same course, same distance. It was pouring rain, cold and not the most ideal weather for a trail run, the opposite of Saturday's calm, cool and hazy — due to wildfires burning in Idaho and other parts of the surrounding area — weather that led to nice racing conditions.
Ian had the goal of beating his dad's splits, which he thinks he was able to do Saturday.
"It was really fun," Ian said. "I think I got him."
Michael, racing in the 50-59-year-old group, had a simple reason for sticking with the shorter 5-miler instead of racing against his son.
"Because I'm old," he said with a smile after he won the 5-mile race.
Other top finishers
Leilani Contos out of Missoula took first in the women's five mile in 48:46.78 to beat out second-place finisher Leah Thomas by around four minutes. Nicole Murray finished at the top of the women's 10 mile in 1:21:59.33 — beating out second-place finisher Katrina Miller out of Missoula by about five minutes.
On the men's side, Michael Adams finished a few seconds behind Ian to take second in the 10 mile and Jonathan McShane out if Lolo took second in the five mile, finishing about five minutes behind Michael.