Robert Renniger finishes the Totem to Totem

Robert Renniger finishes the Totem to Totem Half Marathon on May 11, 2019 at Potlatch Totem Park. Photo by Marvin Seibert

All summer long, the Ketchikan Running and Walking Club has hosted its events virtually — the new normal in the novel coronavirus era.

But on Saturday, Sept. 12, the running club will return to something close to the “old” normal — an actual in-person race.

The Totem to Totem Half Marathon, which was run virtually in May, will return for a second go-around.

“I think, (this is) the only actual run that we’ll have (this season),” said Laura Coleman, the running club’s vice president. “It’s good for the club to (host) a run, and for the community to have a race. It is a little different, but I think having the race is still providing some kind of normalcy for the runners here that like to compete. Because doing the virtual races are hard for a lot of people. You’re just out there by yourself. And at least with other runners, there’s still some camaraderie.”

The half marathon next weekend will be different than “normal.” There will be pre-race temperature checks, staggered start times, COVID-19 waiver forms to sign, and a 50-person limit. But the act of racing won’t change.

“It’s important to get outside and stay active,” Coleman said. “For me, having something to train for, really helps you to stay motivated and get out there.”

Both walkers and runners will be able to participate in the 13.1-mile race, with walkers taking their first step at 8 a.m. on Sept. 12. Runners will begin at 9 a.m.

But to abide by the Ketchikan Emergency Operations Center mandate, the running club is sticking with that 50-participant limit.

“That was the EOC’s limit to make the event possible — have less people register,” Coleman said.

The race will begin at Rotary Beach and wind through town before ending at Potlatch Totem Park.

In hosting the race, the Ketchikan Running Club is following a similar design that an organization in Anchorage used earlier this summer. There were limited participants and staggered start times, and the event was considered a “success.”

“They did a half marathon race, and it was really successful,” Coleman said. “Successful in that there weren’t any new infections because of the race. They had staggered start times and limited entries. And they were able to put on a race for everyone.”

The Ketchikan Running Club is asking people to wear masks before and after the race, and not to congregate at the finish line.

“At least you’ll see fellow runners,” Coleman said. “And you’re in it together — running 13 miles.”

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Running club update

The Ketchikan Running Club has tried to stay active this summer.

When coronavirus cases in town were low, the club was hosting community runs on Fridays.

Those have since stopped, but weekly challenges like Strava art, running streaks for the most days in a row and elevation challenges have kept the club busy.

“Just lots of other challenges to get people to still run,” Coleman said. “We can’t do the community runs on Fridays; we thought that would kind of get people involved.”

Race day weather

Shockingly, the weather next weekend is sunshine, sunshine, and more sunshine, with temperatures in the 50s and 60s, according to

That, of course, subject to change. But at least it’s a promising break from the wet days Ketchikan has experienced this summer — the rainiest in recorded history.