If you ever spotted Jason Loutitt whizzing by, either running or riding through town, you likely couldn’t track him for long. And if you could catch up to him, you wouldn’t outlast him.
The uber-talented local athlete was known for his unique physical abilities and outstanding mental stamina, leading him to complete mind-bogglingly tough races with relative ease.
Loutitt, 47, died suddenly on June 7.
While gone far too soon, he accomplished much in his short life and left behind many who admired and loved him.
The many headlines about Loutitt in this paper over the years included his winning of the inaugural Squamish 50 trail race, and when he represented Canada in the D-Day Ultra 100-kilometre trail race in Normandy in June of 2014.
“It was an honor to represent Canada,” Loutitt told The Chief at the time. “The run finished with running alongside 3,000 school children in Caen. Words can’t express what running through all the memorial sites, on all the beaches and then with the children meant to me.”
Bob Reid, of the Prairie Inn Harriers Running Club in Victoria, remembers Loutitt fondly from when the pair ran together in the capital city.
Loutitt joined the Harriers club in 2007 and raced there for a decade before moving to Squamish.
“During his time in Victoria, he placed second overall at the Royal Victoria Marathon and won several local races including the Bear Mountain 10K, the Harriers Gunner Shaw Classic, the Harriers Stewart Mountain 10 Mile Challenge and the Harriers 100K Elk/Beaver Ultramarathon,” Reid noted in a post dedicated to Loutitt on the Prairie Inn Harriers site.
“He finished first overall in many events ranging from 10 kilometres to 100-mile races with consistency and complete dominance. A few of his extreme athletic performances included running the 2007 Blue Planet Around the World Race in record time and cycling from Whistler to Halifax and back; a twice across-Canada 12,000-kilometre ride, which he accomplished solo in 44 days without a support vehicle.”
While with the Harriers, Loutitt garnered several club awards, including the Harriers Mountain Runner of the Year in 2008, the Gunner Shaw Most Valuable Runner in 2009 and the Harriers Ultramarathoner of the Year in 2011 and 2012.
“In 2008, he joined a group of 30 Harriers to run the demanding alpine trail course from Obstruction Point to Hurricane Ridge, north of Port Angeles,” said Reid. “His Harriers teammates were completely exhausted after the gruelling, extremely hot, 13-mile journey, and they were happy to enjoy their ride back down the mountain in club support vehicles — but not Jason! He ran back the trail for another 13 hot miles and managed to beat our three support vehicles to the ferry terminal.”
Reid told The Chief what made Loutitt such a good runner was his simplicity, love of the sport and positive attitude.
The pair ran together a lot along the trails around Thetis Lake.
“He was just a pleasure to run with," Reid recalled.
“He wasn’t affected by a lot of the gadgets and gimmicks and some of the high-performance shoes and things like that,” he said. “He would go anytime, anywhere and for any distance... He was like a puppy dog: he would go anywhere you wanted. He was happy to do it.”
Reid points to a video featuring Loutitt as central to understanding the man as a high-performance athlete.
It highlights Loutitt leading Team Canada in the 70-kilometre 2011 IAU Mountain Running World Championships in Connemara, Ireland.
“It is labelled as one of the most difficult courses in the world ever designed. They go up and down mountains and through five kilometres of bog — with mud up to knees, up to your waist, it was incredible.”
The narrator of the video describes Loutitt as "dancing over" the alpine terrain.
"He was just such a happy-go-lucky guy," Reid recalled of Reid as a runner.
A spokesperson for Manitoba Aboriginal Sports and Recreation Council (MASRC) said in a statement that its members were saddened to hear of the passing of Loutitt, who was of Métis heritage.
“Jason was the regional recipient of the prestigious Tom Longboat Award in 2001 for his dedication and success in long-distance running,” said Mel Whitesell, executive director of the council.
“Jason was a track coach for inner-city Indigenous youth in Winnipeg and then was the manager for Team Manitoba’s Track and Field team for the 2002 North American Indigenous Games (NAIG). He also took on the role of coach and competed at the 2002 games. Jason made an outstanding contribution to Indigenous sport during his time in Manitoba and will forever be remembered. We send our sincere condolences to his family and friends.”
Not only did Loutitt achieve in sports, he was family, community and environmentally minded as well.
His mom described him as simply “amazing.”
“Jason was the best son, so loving and thoughtful,” Beverly Kluthe told The Chief.
“We have so many fond memories of Jason at Helping Hands and we will miss him in our small community. He went out of his way to give back — including his recent ride across Canada to raise funds for Helping Hands. Jason was kind, generous and thoughtful. He was also not afraid to show his pain and vulnerability. We are so grateful for the time he spent with us,” said Maureen Mackell, executive director of Squamish Helping Hands.
Loutitt's pride and joy was his son. A fund has been started for the teen: money can be sent directly to the boy’s mother, Taeko Terauchi, P.O. Box 601, Squamish B.C., V8B 0A5 or via email transfer to firstname.lastname@example.org
There will be a celebration of life for Loutitt in August, according to his family. Details are still being finalized.
~With files from Ben Lypka/The Squamish Chief