Race the Reserve becomes community event

Runners work their way up Ebey Road in last year
Runners work their way up Ebey Road in last year's Race the Reserve.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

Race the Reserve, which returns Saturday, Aug. 9, is more than a fundraiser.

Yes, its primary function is to raise money for graduation activities for the Coupeville High School class of 2015, but it is also a community event that helps fill the void for runners that was left when the Whidbey Island Marathon dropped Coupeville from its route.

Elizabeth Bitting, a member of the Parents of CHS and director for this year’s Race the Reserve, enjoys running and said when the Whidbey Marathon finished in Coupeville, she was “in heaven.”

Once the marathon moved its finish line to Oak Harbor, Bitting said, there were rumblings in Central Whidbey on how to get Coupeville back on the running map.

“Then an opportunity arose,” Bitting said. “I was part of the parent group back then (2012), my son graduated that year, and I saw an opportunity to bring a half marathon back to Coupeville.”

That year the race was dubbed the Dash for the Bash and was held in October.

“The feedback was overwhelmingly good,” Bitting said.

The following year the race was moved to August, renamed Race the Reserve and added a 10K and 5K to its lineup.

The senior parents, Bitting said, adopted the philosophy, “If you build it, they will come.”

And come, they have. Race participation has grown each year. As of early July, over 100 runners had registered, and the group expects the usual rush of signups as the race nears and on race day.

(For more information or to register, visit

The race is not easy to organize, Bitting said, but the willingness of past directors to share their experience lessens the load.

The most difficult factor in putting the race together is its timing. The bulk of the work comes as race day approaches, and that comes in the summer when seniors and their parents, the nucleus expected to help run the race, are often out of town or involved in other activities.

“Access to the new seniors is very limited,” Bitting said. “Emailing and Facebook have helped us tremendously in getting in contact with our new seniors.”

A combination of 40 parents, friends, family members, students and seniors have volunteered this summer, according to Bitting.

Linda Hammer, Kerry Rosenkranz, Angie Stephen, Christine Wright and Sandra Bodamer form the core parent group producing this year’s event. Bodamer, like Bitting, was in the 2012 group that designed the first race.

“The race is evolving,” Bitting said. “Without the community and their sponsorship and support, this would not happen from year to year. Our community has been so welcoming of this run that we have set an additional goal of giving back. We will be giving a donation to The Friends of Ebey.”

The funds raised will provide safe and sober graduation activities for CHS seniors.

“The last week of school for the seniors is full of what we hope will be memorable experiences: senior assembly, senior awards night, senior parade, senior breakfast and senior night,” Bitting said. “The Parents of CHS want to give these seniors a safe environment to create lasting memories and to act as a last sendoff. This will be the last opportunity for many of the seniors to spend time with one another before heading off in their own directions.”

Since the run falls on the same weekend as the Coupeville Arts and Crafts Festival, Bitting said, race organizers tell those who register to “come for the run but stay for the fun.”

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