Virtual Totem to Totem

Ian Roskam, left, and Ezra Roskam, 9, compete in the Virtual Totem to Totem race. Due to the novel coronavirus, the race, which was originally scheduled for May 9, was postponed until later this year. In its place, runners competed virtually this month.  Photo courtesy of Ian Roskam

Ketchikan’s first virtual race is officially in the record books.

For the past month runners and walkers have been hitting the pavement around town — competing against each other — but mostly competing against themselves, chasing the clock.

In the world of virtual racing, running alone or with those in the same household was the only way to compete in the Virtual Totem to Totem Half Marathon.

“It’s cool to see that some of our big pillars in the running community went out there and got after it,” Katie Sivertsen said. “That’s super cool.”

Sivertsen pitched the “virtual” idea to the Ketchikan Running and Walking Club, after the 38th annual Totem to Totem Half Marathon was postponed due the the novel coronavirus. The race’s original date of May 9 was bumped until Saturday, Sept. 12 to comply with social distancing guidelines.

The official race is still on track for later this year. But from May 1-May 25, people were able to get outside and compete, if they were already prepared to go toe-to-toe in May.

“We had a good turnout,” Sivertsen said. “... I was pleasantly pleased. Twenty-eight people participated. My hope was between 20 and 30, so I was like, ‘Right on.’”

The virtual aspect allowed anybody to compete.

Professional runner, and Ketchikan’s own, Isaac Updike participated from his home in the Lower 48.

Updike finished in the top spot among the men’s finishers, completing his 13.1-mile race in 1:13:22.

“He runs between 80 and 90 miles a week,” Sivertsen said. “So his legs aren’t tapered. He’s in the middle of a long run, and just casually threw down an hour, 13 (minutes). So that was really cool to see him get after it.”

Sivertsen placed first among the women’s finishers, completing her race in 1:52:50.

“I went out on (May 24),” she said. “I saved it for the last possible second. And part of the reason was totally because I wanted to see what everyone did. ... You have to be competitive any way you can.”

Participants set their own half marathon route, and used GPS apps to track them throughout their race.

People in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau sent their results in, as well as runners in Washington, and as far east as North Carolina.

“Kathy Yates used to live here, and now she lives in Washington,” Sivertsen said. “So it was cool to get people who have connections to our community, and taking part in this.”

Virtual races will continue to be an option moving forward. The Ketchikan Running and Walking Club still has several races scheduled for this summer. But as the coronavirus pandemic continues, social distancing guidelines will continue to be monitored.

“(Virtual races are) absolutely on the table,” Sivertsen said. Nothing’s been decided. ... (But) what we’re discussing right now is, ‘Are we going to do some more virtual runs?’ That’s totally an option.”

The board for the Ketchikan Running and Walking Club will meet later this week to discuss options moving forward.

“I would be so happy to coordinate another event like this, you know, virtual,” Sivertsen said. “Just because it’s super fun, and it wasn’t that hard. ... So I would not be suprised if we end up doing something else virtually. But I also really hope that we can find a way to do things together, safely. But safety is what’s it’s all about.”

Here are complete results for the Virtual Totem to Totem race:

Men’s Results

1. Isaac Updike 1:13:22; 2. Sean Vail 1:35:23; 3. Matt Herrod 1:39:58; 4. Nathan Mooers 1:47:16; 5. Kevin Johnson 1:48:26; 6. Carlos Weimer 1:49:52; 7. Tom Fowler 2:02:50; 8. Bill Elberson 2:11:51; 9. Ezra Roskam (youth) 2:18:01; 9. Ian Roskam 2:18:01; 11. Brian Brosenne 3:29:27; 12. Wally Rudd 4:30:50; 13. Evan Roskam (youth, 7.1 miles) 1:43.25.

Women’s Results

1. Katie Sivertsen 1:52:50; 2. Danielle Hill 1:58:02; 3. Deandra Baine 2:05:16; 4. Laura Coleman 2:06:50; 5. Kristin Santroch 2:09:32; 6. Crystal Schleiff 2:16:48; 7. May Flood (14 miles) 2:21:52; 8. Crystal Vail 2:25:54; 9. Eryn Brooks 3:20:42; 10. Ericka Rudd 3:26:15; 11. Darlene Brosenne 3:29:27; 12. Melinda Rodgers 3:44:08; 13. April Lamon 3:45:04; 14. Kathy Yates 5:07:08; 15. Ashley Roskam (7.1 miles) 1:43.25.

*Results courtesy of the Ketchikan Running and Walking Club.