Welcome to the final installment of the Quarantine Q&A. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors these past weeks you found some inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community. We certainly have enjoyed getting to learn from and share the stories of those who are adapting to a new way of life in these unprecedented times.

For our last Q&A we are excited to visit with the one and only Anders Brooker. As the owner of The Runner’s Edge, the Hellgate High School XC coach, and a steadfast Montana running community leader, Anders hardly needs an introduction. Like so many others, he and the Runner’s Edge family have had to pivot, adapt, and navigate uncharted waters these last couple of months. Read on to learn how he is working hard to continue adding value to his employees, athletes, and community during these challenging times.

Anders with his wife, Meg, and their baby, Will.


How many years ago did you open The Runner’s Edge?

We opened up in July 2001 on the weekend of the Sundae Run.  Sundae Run was put on Missoula Road and Track Club (now RWM) and used to be on the weekend that turned out later to be the Missoula Marathon weekend.  

As a small business owner, how has the COVID pandemic most significantly impacted your business?

Obviously we closed down and that had a huge impact on our day to day sales.  Lucky for us the Missoula community is so supportive, so we were able to fill some orders with in-town delivery and curbside pickup.  We have also had to postpone or cancel our spring and early summer events. We are hoping that Montana will be in a position we can host some of those events this fall. 

Can you share some ways you are getting creative in trying to engage with the running community and your customers?

One of the opportunities that came with the store being shut down and our events being either canceled or moved to the fall was being able to now look at other ways to interact with the running community.  We have tried to get creative by hosting weekly virtual events and things like the Quarantine Q&A.  

You are also the coach of the Hellgate High School Distance Runners. How have you navigated this time with your athletes as races and seasons have been canceled?

That has been one of the more challenging parts of this for me personally.  I love to coach and am heartbroken for the seniors who have worked so hard and now won’t be able to finish their last track season.  In the end, missing one season might feel small in the grand scheme of things, but I know the effort and dedication these kids put in year-round.  We can’t have physical contact with kids, but we are finding other ways to engage through Zoom meetings, virtual strength training, and helping guide them through this uncertain time.  I miss our kids and coaches.  

Have you taken a moment to get out for a run yourself during these uncertain times?

I usually get out 4-5 days a week.  In the last couple of weeks, we have gone to my parent’s house and ran the 11 Miles to Paradise trail.  It has been a great way to get out of town and find a quiet trail.  I am trying to at least be in good enough shape to run with the high school kids as we can start meeting again. 🙂 

Are there ways you are investing in your mental health right now?

Spring is usually the busiest time for me, between the shop, events, and coaching, so it feels weird to have a few weekends off.  Like I mentioned before, getting out of town and that has been really refreshing. 

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

Of course.  It has been hard, but I have tried to look at the opportunity of this time we are all in.  We have made some nice changes inside the shop that we wouldn’t have been able to make if it wasn’t closed down.  We have also learned other ways we can serve our customers like in-town delivery and I could see us continuing some of those moving forward. It has also given us reason to communicate with other running stores around the country and learn from them.  I am also trying to take the time away from practice to grow as a coach and getting through some books and podcasts that have been on the list for a while. 

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

Oh man… inspiration is coming from everywhere right now.  At home Meg and Will are my number one motivators, we are having some much fun watching Will change each day.  Whether it is working on our events or in the shop, we have some amazing co-workers who are trying to be creative and help us make the right decisions.  In my coaching life seeing the engagement and excitement of our other coaches is awesome and watching these kids stay motivated even with their season is canceled is so inspiring.  My parents have supported everything I been part of it and some crazy decisions I have made. They continue to do that. 

I am just so lucky to have all these people in my life. 

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

Thank god for Zoom.  Lucky for me, I see a lot of people in my life either on the computer screen, at home or at work.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

That is an easy answer for me.  I love that trail at the end of Duncan that runs behind “JB’s property” and up to the Rattlesnake corridor.  A lot of folks in the running community know JB and he was nice enough let to Meg and I get married on his property.  So not only is the trail nice, but it is a special place for us. 

If I am leaving town, I would pick the 11 Miles to Paradise trail.  I grew up running that trail with my dad and high school teammates.  It is one of the places I fell in love with running. 

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

The Runner’s Edge mission is “to enhance lives through building community, developing relationships, and having fun.”  We love the products we carry and think they make the running, walking, and fitness experience more enjoyable, but we are in business because of our community and the relationship we have built.  Every time we talk to other stores around the country, it just reminds us how lucky we are to have a community like this one. 

I can’t tell you how many people have reached out or made purchases during this time just to make a point to support us.  We are so grateful to live and work in Missoula.

The Runner’s Edge Team last year in Seattle.

 

A big thank you to Anders for sharing with us and for all he does for our community! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider sending this article to them.

Well, that’s a wrap for the quarantine Q&A. We hope it brought value to you in one way or the other the last 5 weeks. If there are other ways you would like to see us out in the community, e-mail Mike@runnersedgemt.com and let us know!


This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!

Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, teachers, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. 


This week we catch up with Emily Walters. Emily is a mom, a poet, an avid skier, a lover of food, and is currently racking up vert running and hiking on the trails all around Missoula. Read on to learn how she is finding joy and spreading positivity in our community during these uncertain times. Also, as a major bonus, Emily shares some of her poetry with us. Please enjoy!

Emily with her husband, Jeff and their daughter, Nina

 

First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

I’ve lived in Missoula for 12 years.

Are you training for an upcoming race? If so, has it been canceled or postponed? If so, have you set any new goals?

Yes, I have been training for the Bighorn 50k which was recently cancelled. I have a spread sheet (my first year keeping track) of vertical gain, so I’ll focus on vert goals. I’ll keep running but add in more biking too.

What are you doing to maintain motivation and stay active right now?

Having an active 3 1/2 year old is the best kind of trainer, there aren’t any off days with that kind of energy, it is raw motivation. Since the Bighorn was going to be in June, I needed to build a solid base so I have been mostly running. A lot of zone one hikes with our daughter, with moments of sprints she likes to throw in.

How are you investing in your mental health right now?

I haven’t ever really thought of myself as a runner, as much as someone who really values the meditative quality running longer distances can offer. I’ve valued running as an act of mental health even more so lately. Sure, it’s exercise, but really it’s a daily outlet for sustained quiet. It’s also been an activity that feels “normal” while so much around us feels abnormal. Out running, it’s an opportunity to connect with yourself, the mountains, wildflowers, changes in light and check in with your internal barometer.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

Yes, I’ve had a “COVID-running buddy” Sarah Raz, who has been a great friend and running companion for years, but especially during the past few months. We’ve crossed this valley up and down in snow, sleet, sun, sadness and joy. Our weekly runs together have been so meaningful to me right now, a rare opportunity to run hard together, we cheer each other on, shout out, “nice work blondie” and laugh. Running can be a lot of hours clocked alone, but with Sarah, we push each other and hold each other up even when we cannot hug or high-five.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

Reading Station Eleven, listening to On Being’s poetry podcasts, cooking, writing, drawing wildflowers and rainbows with our daughter, working in the garden, mowing the yard. I really find inspiration being outside.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

I’m a funny kind of introvert in that I thought I would thrive in social isolation, but turns out, I really miss interacting with people, “live”. Sure, it’s great to have technology to connect, but it feels clumsy for organic conversation. I really miss random conversations, comedic quips said for lightness and ease.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

The North Hills have become my favorite because I can run from our house. But nothing beats a great loop up Jumbo and Sentinel or variation on the loop theme.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

Missoula now more than ever feels like a place where people cheer each other on even if they don’t really know you. You could be out and about running at dawn and you’ll see someone you might just slightly know zoom by and you both smile. Exchange that joy in seeing someone do what they love to do too. Running feels like a place of normalcy now more than ever, Missoula feels like it’s still cheering. At least the wildflowers are cheering for sure.

Anything you would like to say to our community during this moment?

Keep saying hi, keep smiling, keep being smart while out and about on the trails. Sure, we have to be six feet apart, but nothing means more to a person than a gesture of positivity. You never know what that person might be processing, give them a sense of being seen.

You recently participated in a challenge in April, which is National Poetry Month, to write a sonnet a day. That’s so cool. Would you be open to sharing one with us?

Yes, I didn’t ever think I’d write about running, but I write a lot while I am running. I call my longer days, rough drafts, because it’s where I have more time to really “write” while I run.

Above The Life I Live In

People say you should run your own race,
but I haven’t been able to figure out a strategy
for myself other than running for hours outside,
high above the life I live in. Crest along rocks,
ravines and spend most of my day with ravens
in the alpine, moments when I forget I have feet,
just the simple moment of breath meeting breath
and me as a body between. I never feel like a failure
when I move my body up a mountain, never ask
myself what have I done with my one beautiful day
given. Nor ask what have I given back to this world
when I am quiet with it. I’ve asked clouds the hardest
of questions, fully knowing they didn’t need to answer

back. Know they trust me. And with them, I’m enough.


A big thank you to Emily for sharing her poetry and stories with us! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this email to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.


This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!

Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, teachers, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. Please enjoy! 

This week we catch up with Tim Mosbacher. Tim is a true runner’s runner and an institution in the running community. A retired school teacher, Tim recently completed his massive goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. Get to know Tim and learn about what keeps him motivated, and how he is setting new goals now that he has completed his last major project. 

 

Tim with friends in Hawaii last year for his final marathon of his 50 marathons in 50 states project.


First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

I first moved to Missoula in 1970 and lived here during my elementary years, but then moved to Billings. I returned for college, but then left for a few years to teach on the Hi-Line of Montana. I returned for good in 1996.

Are you training for an upcoming race? If so, has it been canceled or postponed? If so, have you set any new goals?

An easy question but difficult to answer. I had an injury during the first few months of the year and just recently started training again. I was signed up for the Eugene Marathon in April and the Sandhill Marathon (NE), but both have been canceled. So I have just been using the time to build up my base to get ready for when races resume. I have a list of fall marathons next to my computer ready to be used if they start opening up races.

Speaking of goals, last year you finished your major goal of running a marathon in all 50 states. Congrats! What’s the next big objective on your horizon?

I have two immediate goals. There are five states (MT, NE, OR, VA, and NV) where I did not run a Boston Qualifying time, so I am going to redo those. Then I would like to run all the states with a sub 3-hour time, so I need to redo a few more. I would be the oldest person to have ever accomplished that goal. At the end of June, I am also going to finish hiking across the state of Montana, a trek I did halfway two years ago.

What are you doing to maintain motivation and stay active right now?

When I completed the 50 state goal, I knew I needed a goal because that is what motivates me. To be honest it has been fun just training with nothing ahead of me. I have not had that experience in over a decade. I have been running a lot, and since there are no group runs, my long run has been sometimes in the middle of the week and speed work sometimes on the weekend. The flexibility has been awesome. The Strava challenges have also helped me get in some faster work, but I am not planning to hit any real speed work until May.

How are you investing in your mental health right now?

Running to me is my physical and mental health. Just being able to think when out on a run is relaxing to me (unless I get on the subject of politics). I like to be challenged and the Strava challenges provide me my humor and mental stimulation as I try to beat the person ranked ahead of me.

What are some of the largest ways that the COVID crisis has changed your life in recent weeks? (professionally, at home, etc.)

It hasn’t changed much at all. I am retired so the main thing it has done is create more traffic on Mt. Sentinel. There is way less traffic on the roads, and that has been awesome. The main thing for me is Run Wild Missoula events provided my socialization, so I have not been able to run/socialize with anyone.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

The silver linings have been what I mentioned above, freedom to switch the training schedule and less traffic.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

I early on realized this time period could end up being a unique and positive experience for my, and others’, training. I have always had something on the calendar, so I maybe would skip doing a certain part of training (hills for example). Now with nothing on the calendar, we can add into our training the items we have been weak on because there is no pressure of a race coming up. What a unique time for high school, college, and professionals to fall in love with the sport of running again because there is no pressure. I think in the fall, or whenever races resume, we are going to see some amazing results. I also love listening to the Physical Performance Show podcast by Brad Beer.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

To be honest, I have not been connecting. I miss the Saturday Breakfast Run (my favorite run of the week) and the group I run with on Sundays, as well as Tuesday track. This past week I did connect with Trisha Drobeck for a couple of runs and she always stays more than a few feet away since I am so much older and slower.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

I love to run on most roads, so I don’t really have a favorite place. I do not mind running the same route every day, so I have routes for whatever mileage I am going to do. For faster workouts, I like the Riverfront Trail or the trail to Lolo.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

I think the whole running community is like me and are chomping at the bit to be able to run with their running buddies. I miss them. I follow a number of people on Strava, so it brings a smile to my face when I see that someone has run well or has done a run that looks cool. I think when this whole thing is over, people are going to realize even more what our running buddies mean to us. Hopefully that means more people will come to the breakfast run. Those young guns sometimes push me to my limits, which is awesome!


We enjoyed getting to hear from Tim and hope you did too! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this blog post to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.

This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!

Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, service industry employees, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. Please enjoy! 

For the seventh installment of the series we catch up with Kim O’Connor. Kim is a teacher at Lewis and Clark Elementary, a mom, a Big Dipper Running Team athlete, and, overall, a great person. Read on to learn how Kim is taking care of herself and staying connected to her students, family, and friends during these strange times.

Kim jumping for joy on a run

 

First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

I’ve lived in Missoula since 1993 when I moved here to go to UM.

Are you training for an upcoming race? If so, has it been canceled or postponed? If so, have you set any new goals?

The spring races I had planned to run are canceled or postponed. I’ll run 11 Miles to Paradise this fall. It will be fun to see the course at a different time of year. I always enjoy running with spring sprouting, but fall will be great too. I am doing my first 50K at The Rut in September. Fingers crossed!

What are you doing to maintain motivation and stay active right now?

Running, talking with friends, taking time for walks and hikes. I usually have time for all this. I’m finding the slow down nice. My dogs are really happy with this situation.

You are a teacher, correct? Where do you teach and which grades? As a teacher what does your workday look like during the quarantine?

I am. I teach 4th grade at Lewis and Clark School. Teaching from home is so different. I miss my students so much, and am sad I won’t get all the days with them. That being said, I think we’re making it work as well as we can.

My learning curve for technology has been steep! I see my kids through Zoom meetings and communicate through email. It’s such an unnatural way of teaching. I sit in front of the computer a lot of the day, meeting with them or correcting the work they send me or planning for the following week. I realized after week one that regular breaks outside are the only way to not feel crazy by the end of the day.

As a mom are you getting creative in finding ways to stay active with your family?

My boys are doing a lot of trampoline time and have set up some pretty cool parkour courses in the backyard. We’ve also been hiking and taking a lot of walks. Time at the creek has been helpful too. I often have them bike with me while I run. We go up to the bike track on Lincoln Hills and I do laps on the trail while they ride. Not my favorite run, but sometimes you take what you can get.

How are you investing in your mental health right now?

I am recording my gratitudes daily. I’m getting outside many times throughout the day. One of my neighbors asked me if I was injured since I’ve been walking so much. I’m also trying to be forgiving when I don’t have my best day. I’m thinking if I’m productive and can keep it together most days, that’s pretty good.

What are some of the largest ways that the COVID crisis has changed your life in recent weeks? (professionally, at home, etc.)

My job is the biggest change right now. I love teaching and it’s really hard to teach remotely. I can create lessons, but the teaching is so different. I miss my students and my colleagues. Helping my own kids with their work can be challenging too. I have found my youngest kid needs to take lots of breaks to stay focused. And that reading Romeo and Juliet aloud is just as painful as it was in high school.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced in the last couple of weeks you would like to share?

There are silver linings for sure. First of all, my husband and I both have our jobs, and we’re all healthy. I’m always pretty grateful for my job and living in Missoula, but this reinforces it. The chance to slow down has been nice. Spring is usually such a busy time and we find ourselves all going in different directions sometimes. The forced stillness has been good. I’m not saying there haven’t been frustrating days, but, most days, I can see the extra family time as a gift.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

We’ve had a lot more time for board games and puzzles. I also have more reading time than usual. I’m listening to my usual favorite podcasts like The Moth and Fresh Air, and my new favorite, Office Ladies. Pam and Angela from The Office review an episode of the show each week. Time suck? I’m calling it a brain break/ guilty pleasure.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

I have a standing date with a couple friends to meet on Wednesdays and socially distance in a backyard. I’ve also been doing walk breaks with one of my neighbors who is also a colleague of mine. I also have more time to catch up with friends on the phone.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

I live near the North Hills so that is often a go- to. I’ve been venturing over to Mount Jumbo too. I usually run on Sentinel from school at least once a week. I’m missing that.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

I miss running with my friends. Running is usually a very social activity for me and I am missing that part of my life. Maybe I didn’t realize how much I rely on that time and those connections. It has been great to see so many people out moving. I imagine social distancing is much easier in Missoula. We’re lucky!
We enjoyed getting to hear from Kim and hope you did too! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider sharing this article with them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.


This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!

Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, service industry employees, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. Please enjoy! 

For the sixth installment of the series we catch up with Ian Carlson. Ian recently ran a marathon around the streets of Missoula to fill the void of not being able to run the Boston marathon this spring, which he had qualified and registered for. Read on to learn more about Ian’s experience running his own personal Boston Marathon in Missoula, and other ways he is adapting during the Coronavirus pandemic.

Ian during his Boston Marathon in Missoula with some socially distanced spectators

 

First off, how long have you lived in Missoula?

46 years. I was born and raised here.

What do you do for work and has it been affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

I am a software engineer for Textron Systems. Aside from our team shifting work from our local office to home, not a whole lot has changed.  I have been spending some additional time getting the proper safety protocols and equipment in place so that when we do get the go ahead to resume working from the local office, we will be ready. I do have to say I have taken a liking to the many virtual happy hours with my friends and family. We have certainly found fun and interesting ways to stay connected.

You were signed up for the Boston Marathon this year, but it was postponed due to COVID-19. We are sorry to hear that. Would this have been your first Boston Marathon?

Yea, I am still planning on running the actual Boston course this September 14th if things settle down by then.

We heard that you decided to still run a marathon last weekend here in Missoula on the original Boston Marathon date. Congrats! In a few sentences tell us how it went.

Overall the race was great! The weather was beautiful, and a perfect starting temperature at 39 degrees. I would not have minded a little cloud cover to keep thing cool, but instead I got beautiful spring sunshine. I would have liked to have been a bit faster overall, but seeing all my friends around the course more than made up for it. Don’t worry they all practiced expert level social distancing!

Did you create a fun route or do loops in a certain area?

One of my overall goals was to run by as many of my running peeps houses to maximize the fun. The course ended up with a couple out and backs, but overall it looped around the valley quite nicely. I think it looks sort of like a chicken eating a worm with a TV antenna on its head

Did you have support from friends or family?

I received way more support than I could have ever dreamed of. There were a lot of great signs, beautiful smiles, and serious cowbell during my race. I let all my friends and family know when I was planning on running by their houses to limit any waiting time, and sure enough they were all out there cheering me on. You may have seen them scattered all throughout Missoula, and at first glance you might have even mistaken them for protesters, but with the craziest signs and cowbell. Many even managed to track me around town and ambush me in the most unexpected places. This was the best surprise of all. I have to give a big shout out to my wife Sara as she made sure everyone knew where they all could cheer me on, and organized several surprise locations. They certainly kept my spirits up! Favorite sign “Mortuary Ahead… Look Alive”.

Now that you’ve run the marathon what are you doing to maintain motivation? Do you have any other fun goals on the horizon?

With warmer temps coming and the deeper trails finally clearing up I will be heading out in the mountains a bit more. I suppose my big goal for the year is to stay trained and get some hill strength so I can crush the Hootenanny in October. Of course, Boston will be on my mind all year as well.

Other than running, are there other ways you are investing in your physical or mental health right now?

I should probably do more in this area. I have been trying to keep in touch with friends and family through virtual means as much as possible.

What are some of the largest ways that the COVID crisis has changed your life in recent weeks? 

I can’t say it’s changed my life all that much aside from the social distancing that we all must endure. I guess every day I am looking to discover what has changed from the days before.

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced during the COVID-19 pandemic you would like to share?

I am well fed both physically and mentally. I am amazed on how well all my kids are stepping up and helping each other out. They have been just awesome! My daily commute is down to 30 seconds, 5 seconds if I run.

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

Friends on Strava! Just being able to see people are still at it, cranking out fast miles, keeps me going. Audio books, I always have a book loaded up on my phone for the longer runs as well.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing?

Lots of virtual happy hours and games.

Do you have a favorite place to run in Missoula?

I always love running though and around the UM campus, and along the river although it’s been a bit busy in some sections lately.

What does the Missoula running community mean to you in a time like this?

They are a generous and friendly bunch! I can’t say enough on how their smiling faces lift me up when I see them on the trails and roads. I love the races, and the beautifully maintained trails we get to enjoy. More than anything they feed me challenges I can take on so I am not focused on things I can’t change. 

We enjoyed getting to hear from Ian and hope you did too! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this email to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.

This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!
Each week we interview members of our community to learn how the Coronavirus pandemic has impacted their lives, and how they are adapting in these challenging times. Our quarantine interviewees are healthcare workers, small business owners, students, parents, service industry employees, and, of course, runners. We hope that by sharing the stories of our neighbors we can find inspiration, solidarity, and connection as a community in the coming weeks and months. Please enjoy! 

For the fifth installment of the series we catch up with Ian Curtis. Ian is a senior at Hellgate High School, a distance runner and team captain for the cross country and track programs, a guitar player, a cyclist, a skier and much more. Read on to learn more about how Ian is maintaining a positive outlook, and staying connected to his team, amidst the uncertainty of his last season as a high school athlete.


Ian competing in the 2019 Bozeman XC Invitational



Thanks for joining the quarantine Q&A! First off, how old are you and how long have you lived in Missoula?

I am 18 years old and I was born and raised in Missoula. 

As a high school track athlete, what event (meet) were you most looking forward to this season? Has the season been canceled officially?

I was really looking forward both to the Arcadia Invitational in California, and the Montana state track meet. Arcadia was cancelled due to covid 19, but we have not heard officially about the state meet. There is still a small chance that we can have a short track season if school resumes.

What goals have you set for this track season, individually, and as a team?

My personal goal was to win the state championship in the 1600 meters or the 3200 meters. The Hellgate distance team was hoping to have as many all-state finishers as possible.

Are you staying motivated to train amidst this uncertainty? If so, how?

My motivation to do intervals on the track has been slightly lessened without definitive plans for a season. That said, I remain very motivated to train for the Double Dip, and for next fall’s collegiate cross country season.   

Are you doing workouts at home? If so, how are you getting creative?

As far as workouts at home, Courtney Babcock has been continuing to lead the team in strength training twice a week via Instagram live. Our coach, Anders Brooker provides us with a weekly training plan. I have been doing workouts on the river bowl track and the Kim Williams, and running some trails that are not accessible from Hellgate.    

What’s been the biggest challenge to keeping up with your running during this time?

Running has been something that I really look forward to during this time, but doing workouts alone is definitely a challenge. I miss running with my teammates and being able to go to practice every day. 

What are some of the largest ways that the COVID crisis has changed your life in recent weeks?  For school, are you taking online classes?

Yes, I have been continuing my classes at Hellgate online. I would say the biggest change is that there is no school, and subsequently no running practice. I have also started to rethink my college plans because of the uncertainty created by the covid pandemic. If schools are unable to reopen in the fall, I might opt to take a gap year. 

Are there any silver linings or positive moments you have experienced due to the COVID crises you would like to share?

In the absence of school, I have been able to do quite a bit of skiing and mountain biking in addition to running that I otherwise could not have done. I have also been getting more sleep. The extra time spent outside and adequate rest have greatly improved my outlook and mental wellbeing. 

Where are you finding inspiration right now? (books, music, podcasts, people, etc.)

I am very inspired by seeing my friends and teammates continue to train and remain positive through this period of isolation. Also, the Pengelly Double Dip has been moved to August instead of being canceled. That is extremely exciting and inspires me to train.

How are you connecting with others during quarantine and social distancing? Are you staying in touch with your team?

We have a team meeting on zoom every week. I keep in touch with the team as best I can, but it can be difficult.

What does the Missoula running community (or specifically, your team) mean to you during this time?

I am very grateful for the Hellgate distance program, and the incredible support provided by my coaches and teammates. Even though social running events have been suspended during the pandemic, it is comforting to know that the running community will return stronger than ever. I feel very fortunate to be a part of such a thriving community surrounding running and the outdoors. Thank you to the Runner’s Edge for organizing this, and so many other great events during this time!

We enjoyed getting to hear from Ian and hope you did too! If you think this interview would add value to someone in your life, please consider forwarding this email to them.

Also, if you are enjoying the Quarantine Q&A series, or have a question you would like us to ask our interviewees, let us know! Email Mike@runnersedgemt.com.

This edition of the Quarantine Q&A is brought to you by Sapphire Physical Therapy. Thank you Sapphire for supporting and celebrating these community stories!