(Photo courtesy of Seth Totten)
Golden Valley High School

Chop wood, carry water: Golden Valley alumnus’ Cross Country success

Seth Totten, who graduated from Golden Valley High School in 2010, was a standout runner on both the cross country and track teams. Totten set many school records as well as leading the cross country team to a second place finish in league, third in the CIF and third in the California State meet during his senior year.

An all-league runner in the Foothill League, Totten was named the 2008 and 2009 runner of the year in the Santa Clarita Valley. In 2009 he won the League Cross Country championship. Furthermore he was named all Southern Section, All-California and a third-Team All Western Region.

Upon graduating from Golden Valley, Totten held the record for the 1,600 meter and 3,200 meter races. As a track runner he won the 3200M league championship in 2009. Completing his outstanding high school career he was named the schools Male Athlete of the Year for the 2009-10 school year.

(Photo courtesy of Seth Totten)

College Career

Totten continued his running career at the University of California Riverside. For many athletes, the jump from one level to the next is a huge obstacle. For Totten, it was no different but it didn’t take him long to establish himself as a top runner for the Highlanders.

“The biggest difference in the levels is the amount of commitment it takes to be successful at each level. In high school, running is an extracurricular activity. In college, it has to grow to being a very large part of your focus,” Totten said<.

Totten put a lot of his focus on running and it definitely paid off. On Oct. 12 of his freshman year in 2006, he was named Big West Athlete of the Week. During his sophomore season he was named Big West All-Conference after finishing eighth at the Conference Championships. During his senior season everything came together. On Sept. 16, 2009, he was named the Big West SC Male Athlete of the Week.

He finished fourth overall out of 239 runners in the 8K UCR Invitational race, setting a personal-best time of 24:09.2. He helped the Highlanders finish fourth as a team among 29 squads, including five that were ranked regionally.

On Sept. 30, he was named the Big West Cross Country Athlete of the week for finishing seventh overall among 361 individual runners at the Stanford Invitational with a time of 23:46 — a new personal-best for an 8K race as he helped the Highlanders finish ninth out of 17 teams following that award. On Oct. 18, he won the Highlander Invitational with a personal best time in a 6K of 17:17.7

On Sept. 16, Totten was named big west cross country male at athlete of the week, also lowering career best 8K time to 23:46 at the Stanford Invitational on Sept. 27.

A Family Affair

Coming from a family of runners, his father became a perfect role model by running in the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately the celebration of completing the race was soured by the terrorist attack.

Totten says that his dad worked hard to run the qualifying time saying “standards are quite high so my dad had to work very hard to even just get to Boston.” Totten continues to follow that example to this day. His sisters, twins Weslie and Chelsea Totten, who were also D-1 runners have also benefited from that advice.

Weslie followed Seth Totten to UCR where she had a successful career and his other sister Chelsea continued her career in the desert at Arizona State University. Seth Totten’s competitive fire still remains, as he says his wife is also a big motivation.

“She is a high level runner,” he said.

Every morning at 4:30 they run together, before they have to go to work. Seth puts in 110 or so miles a week also saying to himself “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

(Photo courtesy of Dublin Marathon)

Continued desire

All athletes have goals and for a top notch runner like Totten that’s no different.

Well Totten has done that and even more. Running Olympic Marathon Qualifier in Dublin Ireland Totten finished 5th out of 16,206 runners to qualify for the USA Olympic Trials. Preparing for a race at various levels is tough, especially when you’re running against some of the best in the world. His preparation for Dublin was the same as it’s always been.

“I get my butt out of bed when my alarm rings. Consistency is the king,” Totten said.

Many runners often quote the very popular zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

For Totten, running a time of 2:14 in Dublin was the enlightenment he achieved every day by putting on his running shoes and heading out the door, chopping wood and carrying water. This won’t change for the former Grizzly as he prepares for the Olympic Trials.

“The best way for me to prepare for the trials is going to be continuing to chop wood and carry water,” Totten said.

For top notch athletes there’s always another goal, another mountain to climb, another milestone to reach. For Totten that’s no different as he prepares for the U.S. Olympics qualifier and the dream of wearing the USA across his chest. With his determination and desire to continue to chop wood and carry water the odds are that Totten will achieve his dream and represent his country in the next Olympic Games.