2016 Totem to Totem Haida Marathon

Records fell at the 10th running of the Totem to Totem Marathon held on July 16th at Skidegate. Special guests Olympic gold medalist Clara Hughes and her husband Peter Guzman added to the celebration of the day. Clara and Peter came out to volunteer. Mr. Guzman cycled part of the race course, inspiring the runners, while Clara Hughes, after helping with race preparation, walked the 10 km with May Russ of Old Massett and then welcomed runners at the finish line, handing out the beautiful Robert Davidson medals. She also made the presentations to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers in each event.

Neil Foster of Vancouver, Olympic Gold Medalist Clara Hughes and Brandin Lilgert of Rossland.

T2T set a new record for participants with more than 170 registrants and 154 runners who came out to run. The 10K run is definitely the most popular – 65 women and 24 men ran the 10K; 101 had registered to run to Balance Rock and back. In the Half-Marathon, 38 women and 13 men completed the 21.1 km course; 55 runners had registered to run. In the Marathon 14 of the 15 registrants showed up to run the 42.2 km out to St. Mary’s Spring and back. Everyone who came out to run or walk finished their respective events.

The weather conditions were pretty much ideal, with temperatures hovering in the high teens and an overcast sky. Records were set in four events. Laura Giudice, a 14 year old runner visiting from Switzerland, ran the 10 Km race in 39:31, setting a new record for the women, taking more than 5 minutes off the previous best time. Stephen Ptucha of Richmond and Paul McNamara of Vancouver,
tied for first place in the men’s Half-Marathon and set a new record of 1:18:39. Susan Gelinas, also of Richmond, won the women’s event, setting a new record time of 1:35:20. In the Marathon, Elena Cigala-Fulgosi, of Nelson, won the event overall, knocking more than 8 minutes off the previous best time for women, coming in at 3:20:19. Ms. Cigala-Fulgosi was so excited with her finishing time she
was literally jumping for joy after running 42.2 km.

Elena Cigala-Fulgosi, of Nelson

James Thompson of Old Massett

Annika Makinen, visiting from Finland, finished second in the women’s marathon with a time of 4:05:53. While Carrie Vanderhoop of Masset moved up from the half marathon to the full marathon, finishing third with a time of 4:39:35.

The winner in the men’s Marathon was Neil Foster of Vancouver, with a time of 3:34:50, five minutes faster than his second place finish in 2015. Chris Taylor, from Brooklyn, who came second in the 2014 Marathon, placed second again with a time of 3:45:36. Third place went to Brandin Lilgert of Rossland, with a time of 3:49:45. The notable fourth place finisher was James Thompson of Old Massett who finished this year’s marathon with a sub-four hour time, coming in at 3:55:12, taking 20 minutes off his 2015 time. An excellent accomplishment!

In the women’s Half-Marathon, Sarah Peters, from Ontario, and Sarah Adams, from Port Clements, rounded out the top three women, finishing second and third with times of 1:39:40 and 1:44:02 respectively. Patrick Robinson of Victoria and Max Erwin from Masset finished second and third in the men’s half-marathon, with respective times of 1:25:30 and 1:26:48.

The men’s 10 Km event was won by Georg Koszuilinski of Seattle with a time of 38:44, David DePasquale of Nanaimo was second at 39:40, while James Hiebert, last year’s Half-Marathon winner, finished third with a time of 50:09. Keri Fezzey of Coupeville, Washington took second place in the women’s 10 Km with a time of 44:49 and Jenn Dysart took third with a time of 44:58.

David DePasquale of Nanaimo, Georg Koszuilinski of Seattle, Laura Giudice of Switzerland

It was an exciting day. Besides the event records, there were many personal bests on the day and as always the local component of the race was evident with friends and families coming out to participate, run their events and have fun. The runners were surprised and delighted to receive their medals from Olympic gold medalist Clara Hughes. Ms. Hughes greeted everyone with a smile and happily posed for pictures with the participants and their friends and family.

The Totem to Totem organizers wish to thank to the people and organizations which help support the event. The ongoing support of Robert Davidson and Eagle of the Dawn Artists Ltd is deeply and sincerely appreciated by the organizers and the runners. Thanks to James Sawyer of Old Masset, who carved this year’s winners’ medals, the BC Ambulance Service, the RCMP, the Skidegate Band Council, the Skidegate Health Centre, Gwaalaagaa naay, O’Brien Road & Bridge, the Ministry of Transportation & Infrastructure and The Running Room.

Patrick Robinson, Sarah Peters, Stephen Ptucha, Susan Gelinas & Paul McNamara

A very big thank you to all the volunteers who came out. The organizers know that this event could not happen without their contribution. The participation was nearly double from last year and the volunteers were there to help support the runners. Last, but not least, a very special Howa’a to Peter Guzman and Clara Hughes. Their presence helped make the 10th Anniversary of Totem to Totem even more special. The event organizers could not have imagined a better way to celebrate 10 years of the Totem to Totem Marathon, Half-Marathon and 10 K event. They look forward to this destination run continuing to grow.

(Article published in the Haida Gwaii Observer, August 5, 2016. Additional pictures from Totem to Totem.)