Totem to Totem Half Marathon
On May 14th, 2022, we ran our 46th state, Alaska. Dave and I flew from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Ketchikan, Alaska on May 12th giving us a day and a half to recover from jetlag and adjust to the 4-hour time change before running in the Totem to Totem Half Marathon. The race was well organized by the Ketchikan Running Club.
About one week prior to the race I received an email informing me where to pick up our packets as well as important race day information. So, on Friday May 13th, we headed over to the Ketchikan Recreation Center.
The pick-up area was small and to the point. Believe it or not, out of all the races and states that we have been to this was the only time we received a running tank top in our swag! The coldest state in the Union and we get a tank top! Also included was a pair of Darn Tough running socks, electrolyte supplements, stickers and race cookies. They sold raffle tickets for $5 a piece that benefited the local high school cross country team. They had some great prizes which included:
Alaska Airlines - 2 Airline Tickets
Blue Seafoods - 1 case of smoked salmon
Foraged and Found - Various products
Momentum Jewelry - Motivation Wraps
Massage by the Sea - 60 minute massage
Nox Gear - Light up vest
Bigfoot Pottery - one-of-a-kind pottery
Rainbird Running - customized running plan
GoodR - A pair of sunglasses
I bought $20 worth of tickets in hopes of winning it big but came up short.
178 runners and walkers signed up for the race and we were the only people from Florida. The two people who checked in before us came from Ohio but mostly the participants were local.
Come dinnertime I had a hard time locating an Italian restaurant so that we could load up on carbs and Dave could have his lasagna. I did, however, find one place that served lasagna. That was the Oceanview Restaurant.
The Oceanview Restaurant is a Mexican & Italian restaurant. When we walked inside the decor was mostly Italian, made to look like an ancient Roman building. However, when the waitress greeted us, she presented the customary chips and salsa that you would have at a Mexican restaurant. Dave ordered his lasagna, and I had a stromboli. It was an interesting experience to say the least.
Southeast Alaska and specifically Ketchikan is known for their Native Alaskan totem poles. This race was a point-to-point course that began just south of Saxman Totem Park , home of one of the largest collections of totem poles in the world. The walkers had a start time of 8am and the runners started at 9am. We parked in the small parking lot and took shelter in our car due to the 42 degree rainy weather. (Since Ketchikan is in a rainforest this weather was typical.) There was a bathroom at the starting line which of course I utilized and then we were off. No big announcement just the race director with a megaphone giving us last minute instructions and then we started running.
We ran the entire course along the shoreline with the water to our left. The 42 degree temperature was great, however the rain wasn't that great. We were well prepared and decided to skip the rain jackets and just stick with our rain hats.
There were 5 water stations however, I only saw one with a bathroom! The first stop was at the Coast Guard Base. After approximately 2 miles we entered downtown Ketchikan. We ran past the iconic Creek Street, the cruise ship port and even our vrbo rental. We saw numerous bald eagles along the way. Some perching in the trees, on the rooftops and sitting on dock posts. Upon passing the airport about halfway through the race it was uphill from there, literally. Nothing crazy, but for two people from South Florida it felt pretty steep. That is when the rain finally stopped.
We made great timing as we entered the finish line at Totem Bight State Historical Park. We were welcomed with our well earned medal and free beer chip. Dave and I quickly collected our cold beer and I got some complementary post-race tacos from a local food truck. The race also provided coffee and a courtesy van to transport runners back to their vehicles at the starting line however, we waited for the city bus. So we drank our coffee to warm up and boarded the city bus for $2 a person. It took us almost an hour to get back to our car and we were cold, wet and our feet were muddy.
A week or so after the race the Ketchikan Running Club began posting the pictures on their website from the various volunteer photographers along the course. When choosing which race to run in Alaska I didn't want a large race, I wanted to pick one in a smaller town to get more of a local experience. This definitely fit the bill. 146 runners/walkers ended up completing the race. It was well organized, the people were great, and the town is very quaint and picturesque. I definitely recommend the Totem to Totem race for any 50 stater looking for an Alaska race or anyone for that matter.
Until the next one!