Connecting you with Alaska athletes.

RUNNING

Tales From The Track: With indoor campaign wrapped, Ketchikan’s Isaac Updike readies for signature steeplechase in an Olympic year

by | Feb 17, 2024 | Cover Story, Running, Track and Field

Isaac Updike

Because Isaac Updike’s principal event is the steeplechase, which is only run outdoors, he doesn’t put too much weight on the indoor season.

His indoor campaign focuses on using a few races to bolster big training blocks. The last indoor race of his season came Friday night in Albuquerque, N.M., where he finished 13th in the 3,000 meters at the USATF Indoor Track and Field Championships in a fairly slow tactical race.

Updike’s time of 8 minutes, 9.55 seconds was well off his personal best at the distance (7:45.10), which he ran in Boston in January and stands as the second-fastest by an Alaskan. He also clocked a PB in the mile (3:55.17) in Boston last month to become the fastest Alaskan at the iconic distance.

“It shows I’m a little stronger and quicker than I was last season,’’ said Updike, who grew up in Ketchikan.

Steeplechase is Updike’s signature event because it involves hurdling barriers and a water jump, which plays into his strength and athleticism, qualities that are superior to his pure speed. Also, Updike is a relatively big distance runner – 6-foot-2, 160 pounds – with a big stride, so the jostling on shorter indoor tracks doesn’t suit him particularly well. “One big dance,’’ he said.

Friday’s race, won handily by American mile record-holder Yared Nuguse in 7:55.76, didn’t set out a jog, but neither did it begin with a blistering pace.

“It felt moderate,’’ Updike said. “It definitely didn’t seem like anyone was going to take off and run away with it.’’

Updike, 31, was mid-pack halfway through the race, but he said he felt flat. It might have behooved him to get on the rail.

“I didn’t come into this meet thinking I’m (going to qualify) for worlds,’’ he said. “Running flat (i.e. no hurdles), I don’t have a lot of confidence most of the race. It’s another hard effort to get to outdoors.’’

Last season, Updike finished third at outdoor nationals in the steeplechase, which earned him a spot on his first global team and in his first global championships, the world championships.

This season, the prize to eye is a podium spot at the Olympic Trials in June in Eugene, Oregon. That would almost assuredly gain him an Olympic bid – racers must meet an Olympic time standard, or qualify through world rankings. Updike made worlds last year based on his world ranking.

Updike, who is sponsored by Under Armour and based at altitude in Flagstaff, Ariz, said he’ll train lightly for the next week or two before launching into a training block geared toward the Trials. He may run a road race for kicks in April, and maybe a 1,500-meter race. Then he’ll compete in steeplechases to sharpen himself for the Trials.

Friday’s result was a bit blah for him, but he used the indoor season to pocket two PBs and he’s in the longest injury-free stretch in several years.

Plus, the last year has been filled with successes. Last summer, Updike not only made his first global team but set a PB in the 1,500 (3:39.84) in Belgium and a PB in the steeple (8:17.47, fastest time by an Alaskan) in France.

Story made possible by:

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

Family of Sponsors

Alaska Airlines | Nicole Johnston | Richard Mize | Advanced Diagnostics, INC | Aktive Soles | Alaska Oil and Gas Association | Aspen Endodontics | Black-Smith, Bethard & Carlson, LLC. | BOSCO's | Coho Financial Group | Continental Auto Group | Don Clary & Judy Besh | Glen Bailey | Invisalign-Ben Ward | JL Properties | Joey Caterinichio & Ja Dorris| Kathleen Navarre | Midas Alaska | Moose's Tooth, Bear Tooth and Broken Tooth Brewing | Perkins Coie - Sarah & A.J. Schirack | R&M Consultants, Inc. | RE/MAX Dynamic Properties Kevin Taylor | Residential Mortgage | Seth Wickersham & Alison Overholt | Taylored Restoration | Korndrop Family Foundation | Arctic Slope Regional Corporation | Replacement Glass | Zareena and Allen Clendaniel | Foley & Pearson | UAA Seawolves | Tony and Carla Slaton Barker | Sportclips Haircuts | Alliance for Support of American Legion Baseball in Alaska | Alice & Gunnar Knapp | Amy and Jason Miller | Burgerfi | Charles Fedullo | Dan Rufner | Darren Lieb | Don Winchester | Donley Family | Dr. Justin Libby, DDS | Firetap | Harlow Robinson | Jason & Shannon Metrokin | Jim & Michelle Hajdukovich | Joe Alston | Kathie Bethard | Krispy Kreme | Kristopher Knauss | Loren Kroon | Mark and Jamie Johnson | Mark Silverman | On the Border | Pete Robinson | Rick Mystrom | Team Heat | Team Moriarty | The Conway Family | Todd Whited | Moria Smith | In memory of Drs. John & Elizabeth Tower | Peter Pounds | Multisport Training of Alaska/Lisa Keller | RSA Engineering

Sports Categories