Posts Tagged ‘Race the Reserve’

Elizabeth Bitting loves to run, regardless of the weather. (Photo courtesy Bitting)

In the middle of big upheaval, a familiar face.

The ongoing pandemic has shut down prep sports for much of the last year, while Coupeville High School has also lost several coaches who have moved away from Whidbey.

But thanks to one popular local coach, the Wolves will have some stability, even during a time of transition.

Elizabeth Bitting, a middle school cross country and track guru, has agreed to move up and replace Luke Samford as the CHS cross country head coach.

She’ll be the third coach in as many years for the Wolf harriers, following Natasha Bamberger and Samford, who both put in a season before being called away by career and family duties.

But there shouldn’t be much of a bump in the road, as Bitting has likely already coached every runner she will have this season.

She’s been a CMS track coach since 2015, adding the cross country program to her duties when it was revived in 2018, and led both teams during the open coaching season.

Current plans call for high school cross country to return at the end of March, and run through the first week of May. At this time, it appears the middle school program will sit out this school year.

With that in mind, Bitting was willing to consider CHS/CMS Athletic Director Willie Smith’s offer of coaching the older team.

Whether she will continue in the role, or revert back to just middle school athletics, is, like everything in the Age of Coronavirus, a bit of an unknown.

“Anything is possible, but my hope for high school cross country is for them to have consistency and stability,” Bitting said.

“Changing coaches from year to year brings different training techniques, different philosophies, different vibes, and different expectations,” she added. “I’d love to see a coach in that position for the long haul.”

While COVID could still throw a wrinkle or two into plans, Bitting is already planning to take advantage of whatever time she gets with her new team.

“This season is going to look very different than any season before. With just six weeks from beginning to end the plan is to fit as much in as possible,” she said. “I’ll be asking the athletes what is important to them. What are their favorite stretches, workouts and routes?

“For those that don’t know me already they will soon learn what my favorite workout is … hills!,” Bitting added with a laugh. “Whenever the opportunity presents itself, always run uphill.

“My overall goal is to keep everybody healthy and have them see their times improve.”

At whatever level she works at, Bitting long ago committed full-force to the running life.

She started her own cross country career in middle school, continuing to hit the trail through high school, junior college, university, and on to today.

While running for Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, Bitting helped lead the 1988 team to a state title, the first in program history.

“At the time it was just another race,” she said. “However, now looking back, it was a very big deal.

“That has been one of my proudest moments in my running history.”

Bitting (back, second from right), kickin’ butt as a college cross country runner. (Photo courtesy Bitting)

Bitting, who continues to run regularly, has organized numerous 5K’s in the area, while also helping create Race the Reserve, which is the largest fundraiser for Coupeville’s graduating class.

As the event has blossomed into a must-see for runners, boasting a marathon and multiple shorter races, she has twice held the title of Race Director, leading the charge in 2011 and 2014.

Bitting and husband John are fast approaching their 20-year anniversary of arriving in Coupeville, with both of their children — Destiny and Chris — having graduated from CHS.

Along with working with its runners, Bitting has had a major impact on the school district working as a Speech Language Pathologist Assistant and substitute teacher.

When it came time to coach, Bitting jumped at the possibility of working with middle school students, many of whom are just beginning to find their sports paths.

“Ask anybody and they will tell you I do enjoy middle school,” she said. “I enjoy the student athletes trying something new and my goal is to instill a lifelong passion of running.

“Every sport encompasses running and to get a solid foundation down early could contribute to success in any sport.”

Imparting wisdom to her athletes. (Deb Smith photo)

While games, meets, and matches have been postponed, Wolf athletes have had the chance to practice in recent months, a huge positive in Bitting’s eyes.

“COVID has been a big game changer,” she said. “I’ve seen athletes put so much time and effort into their training to only get disappointed because their sport was put on hold, postponed or cancelled.

“Then the WIAA created the open coaching session and we have been holding practices, always under the guidelines outlined for us,” Bitting added. “The athletes have truly embraced this. Having to wear a mask has not fazed them.”

While she had hoped for a middle school season, when Smith approached her with the idea of coaching high school, her interest was piqued.

“The high school program has had some amazing coaches; however, life cannot stop for the love of a sport and these amazing coaches’ lives have taken them away from being able to coach,” Bitting said.

“I know these athletes. I’ve coached the majority of them when they were in middle school. I’ve seen many of them grow up in this wonderful community we live in. I’ve seen them become wonderful students and amazing athletes.”

The tipping point in her decision making was remembering an incident early in her coaching career.

The CMS track team arrived at an away meet, only for one athlete to discover they hadn’t packed their running shoes.

“Something any coach does not want to hear,” Bitting said with a big smile. “So, I bent down, took off my running shoes, handed them over and said go warm up.

“I then slipped on their Converse shoes and continued as if nothing out of the ordinary happened.

“Well, this athlete is now a senior, we’ve come full circle, this athlete’s experience started with me and will end with me. Let’s just hope their running shoes are not forgotten this time around.”

Bitting has always preached the importance of running, and that will always remain her mantra.

“My philosophy has always been to have athletes enjoy running, for it will help them in any sport they attempt and is something they can continue throughout their life,” she said.

“Plus running will literally take them anywhere.

“This is what I hope runners take away from a season with me, the pure love and enjoyment of running.

“I love inspiring young people to run; I love challenging young minds and bodies to achieve things they did not think were possible.”

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They’re giving back in multiple ways.

Having scrambled to pull off a successful virtual event during the Age of Coronavirus, organizers of Race the Reserve announced Tuesday they will award a scholarship to a graduating Coupeville student.

The $500 needs-based grant is in addition to the $9,500 the annual event brought in for the CHS Class of 2021.

Students applying for the scholarship have until April 30, 2021 to submit an essay and informational cover sheet.

Those applying will be asked two questions:

**Describe a time where you had to overcome adversity or a challenge in your life.

**Why do you feel the scholarship should be awarded to you?

The scholarship will be given to a graduating senior who has been accepted and will be attending a two-year or four-year college or university, technical school, or vocational school.

All essays will be sent anonymously to an independent panel from the community, with no affiliation to the school, who will read and determine the recipient.

Panel members will have no idea who wrote the essays, as they will only carry a number, and not a name.

The winner will be announced during the traditional CHS senior awards night, with a check made out to the recipient’s future school.

For more information or any questions, students should contact the school counselor.

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Lincoln Kelley is ready for a socially-distanced half marathon. (Photo courtesy Shawna Kelley)

They made it work, and it paid off.

Despite not being allowed to hold an in-person event, thanks to the ongoing pandemic, the parents behind the annual Race the Reserve fundraiser still brought their race home.

Switching to a virtual format, organizers were able to raise $9,500 after expenses.

That money will go towards a safe, alcohol and drug free graduation party for the Coupeville High School Class of 2021 next spring.

Race the Reserve, which normally happens in August, brings runners to Ebey’s Prairie, where they can choose between competing in a 5K, 10K, half marathon, and full marathon.

While runners competed on their own this time, they were still gifted a race bib, T-shirt, medal, and swag bag as in years past.

In addition to the $9,500, Race the Reserve also raised money for a scholarship.

The details and dollar amount of that award will be announced later this month, said race organizer Deb Smith.

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Deb Smith is working overtime to make a virtual edition of Race the Reserve a reality. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Deb Smith is so nice, she’s giving you extra time.

The force of nature Wolf mom behind this year’s Race the Reserve has stretched the deadline for registration until 11:59 PM, Sunday, Oct. 11.

The popular running event, which normally offers a marathon, half marathon, 10K, and 5K, all stretched across Ebey’s Prairie, will be a virtual event this time.

With an ongoing pandemic, organizers were unable to get permits for an in-person race.

Race the Reserve is the biggest fundraiser for Coupeville’s Class of 2021, though, so Smith and Co. are plowing ahead as best as possible.

Step up and pay your $45 to be an official participant in this once-in-a-lifetime (we hope) virtual event, and you’ll still get a race bib, T-shirt, medal, and swag bag as in years past.

All proceeds go towards a safe, drug and alcohol-free graduation night party next spring.


To register, pop over to:


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The race must go on. Just not in person.

With the ongoing pandemic, Race the Reserve, the biggest fundraiser for Coupeville High School’s graduating class, has shifted to being a virtual event this year.

You pick a route (5K, 10K, half or full marathon), pay $45, and you’ll still get a bib, T-shirt, medal, and swag bag.

All proceeds go towards a safe, drug and alcohol-free graduation night party for the CHS Class of 2021 next spring, and you still have a week left to register.

The cut-off is Oct. 10, so get movin’.


For more info and/or to sign up, pop over to:


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