By the time some South Whidbey Record readers open their papers on Saturday, 12-year-old Reed Atwood of Langley will have completed her race as part of the National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships.
A seventh-grader at South Whidbey Middle School, Atwood started running in 2020 when she attended cross country practices alongside her older sister, a high school student.
“I wasn’t very fast at the beginning, but I’ve slowly progressed,” Atwood said.
Middle school students run competitive races totaling a distance of 3,000 meters, or 1.86 miles. Running for the South Whidbey Middle School team this fall, Atwood placed 3rd at the Cascade League Championship held at South Whidbey High School with a time of 12 minutes, 2 seconds.
After wrapping up a successful cross country season with the school district, Atwood was seeking to extend her time competing, so she joined Rain City Flyers, a Seattle-based running club for all ages. Every Tuesday and Thursday after school, she boards the 3 p.m. ferry to the mainland and hopes for no traffic. She also travels to practices on Saturday earlier in the day.
“I’m thankful for my dedicated family to commute with me,” she said.
Competing as part of her running club, Atwood placed 8th in the 11-12 age group at the USA Track & Field Pacific Northwest Junior Olympic Championships with a time of 11 minutes, 57 seconds on Nov. 12. A week later, at the USA Track & Field Region 13 Junior Olympic Championships on Nov. 19, she finished 13th with a time of 11 minutes, 54 seconds.
At both competitions, Atwood’s team of 11- and 12-year-old girls from her running club took home a 1st place win.
“Which is a cool aspect of this program because cross country is a very individual sport,” Atwood said.
She qualified to compete at USA Track & Field National Junior Olympic Cross Country Championships, which took place Dec. 10 in College Station, Texas.
“I’m very nervous because I haven’t been to a race with more than 300 people before, but I’m very excited because I’ve always wanted to go to the Junior Olympics,” she told a Record reporter on Wednesday, three days before the event.
Young Atwood is an inspiration to her family.
“Reed just decided at some time that she wanted to be in the Junior Olympics. At 11 or 12, I wasn’t doing anything like that,” said her grandmother, Carol McNeil.
“We’re excited for Reed and it’s been a fun journey,” said Brian Atwood, her father.