When it was finally over, after Dan Curts and Silas Eastman had raced for the third time in five months, had pushed each other for not quite 41 minutes of carefully measured time around a track on Mt. Desert Island, through a hilly park in Manchester, N.H., and, in the rubber match, over the fields adjacent to Troy Howard Middle School in Belfast, they went off together for a cool-down jog, just the two of them.

They spoke of the unusually warm weather, of the college plans for Eastman, a senior at Fryeburg Academy who lives across the border in New Hampshire. They spoke of the repairs to the Belfast course, which had been a mud bath at the Eastern Maine championships a week earlier. They spoke of their utter exhaustion after the Class B state meet less than an hour before, when Curts, a junior from Ellsworth, leaned at the line to hold off Eastman and win the race by four hundredths of a second in 15 minutes, 47.52 seconds.

Curts has played baseball and basketball. He remembers postgame handshake lines with their quick hand slaps and “Nice game” spoken as quickly as could be spit out.

“That always seemed silly to me because you never really meant it,” Curts said. “There was always some animosity. You just didn’t really care for the other people on the other team.”

Running, he found, was different. No bats, no balls, no trickery or attempts at fooling an opponent. Just a race to the finish with your wits, your guts and your training base.

“I think running is special in that you get to become good friends with your competitors,” Curts said. “I like that aspect of the sport a lot.”

Eastman was the two-time defending Class B state champion. He went on to finish third in New England and was the first runner from Maine.

But Curts, after emerging victorious on the date circled by every serious schoolboy runner in the state, is our choice as Male Runner of the Year. He won when it counted most, if only by a whisker.

Curts lived in Londonderry, N.H., before moving to Maine in first grade and got involved in running through his uncle, Andy Beardsley, and Beardsley’s sons. One of them, Brayden, is a junior on the Ellsworth team, which is coached by Beardsley.

Curts forgot to use the inhaler that alleviates his sports-induced asthma and placed 17th in New England and 25th at the Foot Locker Northeast Regional. He also learned, after his conference meet, that early-season struggles were due to mononucleosis.

“I think he was over it by the state meet,” Beardsley said, “but mono knocks you out.”

In the end, however, it won’t be mono that Curts remembers, but a dynamic duo pushing each other to places neither had gone before. 

Staff Writer Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or at:

gjordan@pressherald.com

Twitter: GlennJordanPPH