Ketchikan Running Club

Runners prepare their media devices at the start of a Ketchikan Running Club race on Sept. 12, 2020 at Rotary Beach Park. Staff photo by Dustin Safranek

The Totem to Totem Half Marathon is right around the corner.

The Ketchikan Running Club is set to host the annual race in person for the first time since 2019 on Saturday, May 8. The Totem to Totem Half Marathon was run virtually in May 2020 due to the novel coronavirus.

“Our goal is 200 (people),” race director Gretchen Klein said. “Of course, we’ll have to follow the city mandates, but we’ve got some new groups getting involved in it.”

The running club is nearing 150 people signed up for the half marathon, including 30 people coming into Ketchikan from out of town.

“We’re exctied to have them come,” Klein said.

In previous years, students have signed up through their school, but Klein said because of COVID-19, there are not as many school sponsored teams this year.

“We’ve had several school kids signing up on their own,” she said. “We used to do the teams (through) the schools, but I think because of COVID it was hard to put those little teams together this last year.

“So we do have quite a few kids that are signing up online, just individually — from 10 years old up to 18,” she continued.

The half marathon, which winds its way through town, starts at Rotary Beach and finishes at Potlatch Totem Park. Walkers will begin at 8 a.m. on May 8, and runners will start at 9 a.m.

“Ultimately people can walk, run, do relays, and bike if they want,” Klein said. “I know there is some construction. But we always just remind people to be cautious on the road.”

Online registration is open on the club’s website — — but will close on May 5. Participants still can sign up in-person during a banquet at The Landing Conference Center on May 7.

“People can pick up their race bibs between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at The Landing, where you check-in there at the lobby,” Klein said. “And then, up in the conference center between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. ... If people come (that) Friday night, and still want to sign up, it’s fine. But there won’t be any sign-up on race day.”

The running club has remodeled its website, making it easier to sign up online.

“People can sign up online now for everything, basically,” Klein said. “They can purchase (running club) T-shirts online, (too). ... But it’s made it a lot smoother to do online registration for us because then it really gets away from so many people showing up the day of the race. It’s just really helped a lot, especially with COVID.”

Running club memberships are up from previous seasons. The club had more than 100 people join at the Ken Teune Memorial race on April 3.

“The club really relies on memberships, so that was really big boost for us,” Klein said.

Running in masks

Appropriate face masks will be required at the start of the race at Rotary Beach, but Klein said participants can remove them once they start running.

Face coverings also will be required for those who attend the club’s pre-race event at The Landing on May 7.

“We want to keep everybody comfortable,” Klein said.

Running virtual

The Totem to Totem Half Marathon is open to participants who wish to participate virtually, too.

“We have quite a few people doing virtual,” Klein said. “We told them they could do it May 2 through (May) 15, virtually. And then, just to send us a photo and their (finish) time, like last year.”

Issac Updike participated in last year’s virtual Totem to Totem. He virtually won the half marathon race, completing it in 1:13.32.

Scholarship named after Woodwards

The running club has regularly given out scholarship money to a graduating senior, during the Ketchikan High School assembly for graduating seniors every year. And for the last 10 years, it’s been for $250.

But that will change this year.

The running club will be giving a $1,000 scholarship, and it will be named in honor of Leigh and Mark Woodward.

Leigh Woodward coached the Kayhi cross country team for many years, and Mark helped as an assistant, before both stepped away in spring 2020. Leigh Woodward also has been an active member of the running club for many years.

This will be the first year the scholarship is named after the Woodwards.

“She’s been a huge (supporter),” Klein said. “She brought the cruise ship race to Ketchikan. She changed the way we did timing. She’s done a huge amount for the club, so we wanted to honor her and her family.”

Quadrupling the amount is also a big step forward for the club. But with so many new members, it made sense to do.

“That’s a big part of what we do with the (membership) money people give to the club,” Klein said.