The Ragged Mountain Racing team was conceived by several members of Charlottesville’s running community, all of whom have known each other for years. But its roots go back decades, starting with Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni, who first met in 1979.
Mark and Cynthia first met at Michigan State University, where Cynthia was a three sport varsity athlete (cross country, indoor and outdoor track) and Mark a mathematics major with an interest in coaching. They married in 1980, after moving to Charlottesville, VA. Cynthia continued to train post-collegiately, and during the early eighties Cynthia (under the guidance of Mark) ran personal records at the marathon (2:38), 10 mile (56:53) and 10,000m (34:10) distances. She capped off her competitive career with a 42nd place finish at the first ever U.S. Women’s Olympic Trials in 1984.
Somehow, in the midst of all this coaching and racing, the two opened the Ragged Mountain Running Shop in the winter of 1982 and, thanks to overwhelming community support, have outgrown three different Elliewood Avenue locations on the UVa Corner. They count their 40 part-time employees as “family” (in addition, of course, to their four children – Alec, Audrey, Adrian, and Annie), as anyone who has been to the shop can attest to.
Since opening their doors in 1982, the two have spent their time vigorously promoting distance running and fitness in the Charlottesville community, having organized over 500 races (all of them for charity), including the Women’s 4 miler (which raised over $300,000 in 2008 alone, all of which goes to community breast cancer programs), the Charlottesville 10-miler, and the Ragged Mountain Cup, as well as having coached various runners of all abilities and backgrounds over the years.
One such runner was Bob Wilder – Dr. Wilder ran distance at Dayton University in the 1980′s, and went to medical school at the University of Virginia. It was here, in the mid 1980′s, that Mark and Bob first met. Bob wanted to continue training post-collegiately, and asked Mark to coach him. He ultimately ran a 2:35 marathon while a medical student at UVa, and in 1988 started his residency in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation in Texas (he would soon return).
Then, in 1993, another Bob rolled into Ragged Mountain Running Shop – Bobby Thiele (he later shortened his name) was at the time an 8th grade member of Charlottesville High School’s junior varsity indoor track team, and he was looking for his first pair of track spikes. Mark and Bob instantly became friends and their paths intertwined almost constantly as Bob grew up in Charlottesville. After graduating from CHS, Bob went on to run cross country at UVa, and he and Mark were able to stay in touch through college.
It was at UVa that Bob Thiele and Dana Coons (eventually to become Thiele) first met – both ran cross country and track for UVa, and by their fourth year both had achieved some measure of success – Dana was an ACC champion and NCAA qualifier in the 10,000m, Bob was a three-time individual qualifier and NCAA All-American in cross country. It was also at UVa that Bob and Dana met Jason Dunn (now the head distance coach at Stanford), whose first year as a head distance coach took place during their senior year.
After college, Bob and Dana went their separate ways – Dana spent two additional years training and coaching at UVa, then left Charlottesville to train in a more structured environment (which she found in Team USA Minnesota). Bob moved to Nashville to go to medical school, then to Chicago for his surgery internship. So how did everything fall into place?
A couple of things happened. First, Mark and Cynthia Lorenzoni met the founders of the Hanson’s Distance Project at a conference several years ago, and immediately decided that the city of Charlottesville would be the perfect location for such a group. Second, after finishing his sports medicine fellowship and working for a time in Houston, Dr. Wilder moved back to Charlottesville to work at the University of Virginia. Third, Dana and Bob got engaged in the spring of 2007 and moved back to Charlottesville. Last, and not least, Jason Dunn hired Brad Hunt from Kent State, and under their direction, the UVa cross country team continued to improve by leaps and bounds.
With the Lorenzonis sufficiently inspired by the Hanson’s Distance Project, Dr. Wilder, Bob and Dana back in Charlottesville, and UVa consistently producing exceptional collegiate athletes, the stage was set for Ragged Mountain Racing. In November 2007, the Lorenzonis, Dr. Wilder, Bob and Dana, Jason Dunn, and Brad Hunt all began meeting to discuss the possibility of creating such a team in Charlottesville. All parties agreed that it could, and more important should be done. Thus, Ragged Mountain Racing was born……
Mark Lorenzoni has extensive coaching experience in all the distance events, having coached his wife Cynthia (Olympic Trials qualifier in the marathon, 2 time Marine Corp Marathon winner, personal best 2:38) during her post-collegiate tenure, as well as Charlottesville runners of all ages and abilities over the last thirty plus years. He has coached members of the Charlottesville Track Club, which prepares local runners for race distances between 4 and 26 miles, for over twenty-five years and has coached thousands of athletes of all backgrounds and skill levels. In 2012, Mark coached RMR athlete Rachel Rose Ward to a 15th place finish (32:39) at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR in Rachel’s first season of competition since 2007. Mark has been successful coaching the marathon, guiding Louise Knudson and Melissa Rittenhouse to Olympic Trials qualifying performances for the 2012 Trials held in Houston, TX. Louise, a 3:08 marathoner prior to joining RMR in 2009, ran four personal bests in the distance before running 2:42:42 at the 2011 Boston Marathon. Also under Mark’s guidance, Seth Hutchinson finished 21st at the 2009 Boston Marathon, in a personal best time of 2:20:56. In 2013, Mark coached RMR community member Amy Martin to fifth place in the master’s category at the Chicago Marathon with a 2:57. Still, after three decades of coaching Mark is perfecting his craft.
Dana Coons Thiele brings to Charlottesville experience both in coaching and racing. After an outstanding career at UVa, Dana spent her first two years post-college as an assistant coach at UVa, continuing to train under Jason Dunn. She then spent two years under Dennis Barker at Team USA Minnesota, where she also helped coach the Burnsville HS distance squad. Dana is a two-time Olympic Trials qualifier (10,000 in 2004, and the marathon in 2008), and has international experience on the road (Seoul in 2002, Chiba in 2004, and Osaka World Championships in 2007). In 2012, Dana coached RMR athlete Rachel Rose Ward to a 15th place finish (32:39) at the US Olympic Trials in Eugene, OR in Rachel’s first season of competition since 2007. Dana has been successful coaching the marathon, guiding Louise Knudson and Melissa Rittenhouse to Olympic Trials qualifying performances for the 2012 Trials held in Houston, TX. Louise, a 3:08 marathoner prior to joining RMR in 2009, ran four personal bests in the distance before running 2:42:42 at the 2011 Boston Marathon. Also under Dana’s guidance, Seth Hutchinson finished 21st at the 2009 Boston Marathon, in a personal best time of 2:20:56. While Dana is raising two small kids (born in 2010 and 2013), she is taking a break from coaching. Mark Lorenzoni is currently providing all of the coaching for RMR.
Robert Wilder, MD Robert Wilder, MD is an Associate Professor of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Medical Director of the Center for Endurance Sports and the Runner’s Clinic at UVa and a team physician for University of Virginia Athetics. Dr. Wilder earned his medical degree from the University of Virginia in 1988. Following residency training at Baylor University Medical Center in Houston he completed a fellowship in primary care sportsmedicine at the Nirschl Orthopaedic Sportsmedicine Center and the Virginia Sportsmedicine Institute. He served as director of Sports Rehabilitation Services at the Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas from 1993-1998 during which time he served as Director of the Runner’s Clinic at the Tom Landry Sportsmedicine and Research Center and team physician for several programs on the high school, collegiate, and professional levels including serving as Head Team Physician for the Dallas Burn of Major League Soccer. Since 1998 he has practiced on the faculty at the University of Virginia. He has published extensively on topics related to sports medicine for runners, including co-editing the Textbook of Running Medicine. An avid runner, he ran competitively on the high school, collegiate, and post-graduate club levels and remains an active member of the Charlottesville Track Club. He and his wife Susan live in Charlottesville with their 4 kids: Lauren (13), Stephen (11), Ryan (9), and Caroline (7).
- Ernie Kidd is a certified massage therapist by the VA Board of Nursing, a Professional Member of the AMTA since 1991. His studies focused on Sports Massage and Rehab, and he has interest in nutrition and weight management. He was on the Olympic Massage Team for Indoor Volleyball in Atlanta in 1996. His experience includes working with cycling and track and field teams, including the University of Virginia track team. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Religion from Berea College, Kentucky in 1985, has 5 years of Hospital experience as a Nursing assistant from 1985-1990.
- Eric Magrum PT, OCS, FAAOMPT is the senior Physical Therapist at the University of Virginia/Healthsouth Outpatient Sports Medicine Center. Eric received his degree in physical therapy from the University of Connecticut in 1994, and completed an Orthopedic Manual Therapy Fellowship. He is board certified through the American Physical Therapy Association and certified as an Orthopedic Specialist. He is involved locally, regionally, and nationally in teaching and research in the fields of lower quarter biomechanics; running injuries, orthotic management, manual therapy as well as spinal evaluation and management. He is also the Center Coordinator for Clinical Education and is involved with the APTA setting standards for student clinical internship education. He has been involved with planning and development of Running Medicine, an annual symposium at UVA, devoted to caring for the running athlete.
Bob Thiele graduated from UVa in 2001, where he was an NCAA All-American in cross-country and three-time individual NCAA qualifier. He went to medical school at Vanderbilt from 2002-2006, and after completing a surgery internship at Northwestern, anesthesiology residency at UVa, and Critical Care fellowship at Duke (2012), he now works as an attending Critical Care Anesthesiologist at UVA hospital. Still, he is occasionally able to train with the men’s team, and competes in local races whenever possible.
We expect that our athletes will do the following:
- Represent their group with dignity and pride
- Treat their fellow athletes and coaches with respect
- Become active members of the Charlottesville community
- Contribute to our team approach to long term/goal-oriented training
We recognize that running is a very individual sport. However, we are interested in athletes who feel they would benefit by training with a team, who would like to have the social support they found in college. We also want our group to provide a positive face for the sport, and expect that our athletes represent their group in such a manner. We also encourage that they contribute to the Charlottesville community through volunteer service projects (for instance, the Rivanna Trail Foundation and Charlottesville Women’s 4-Miler) as well as by helping out at local races. So, if you’re interested in running after college, want to train with a team, and be an integral, respectful part of a running community as well as the broader community of Charlottesville, we’d love to hear from you.
We will do everything we can to provide you (our athletes) with an environment in which you can live and train to your maximal potential. This includes free coaching and organized workouts, which we can provide for everyone, as well as part time employment opportunities. Please see “What you Receive” for more on funding and other RMR perks.
One of our goals is to develop a model post-collegiate racing team that is responsible, independent, and sustainable. As a non-profit corporation, there will be a Corporate Board made up of the Founding Directors and an Advisory Board (selected members of the Charlottesville community). The athletes themselves, however, will be expected to select a group of board members who will oversee areas such as recruiting, housing, traveling, social events, etc. The purposes of this group will be to provide a conduit through which the entire group can approach the Founding Directors and Advisory Board (for voicing concerns, advice on matters related to the team, etc.), while at the same time giving the athletes as much control over the organization as is possible.
Likewise, the Corporate Board members will be assigned certain functions, such as fund raising, financial management, public relations, athlete support (sponsorship, coaching, racing, etc.) and others. Both groups will formally meet on a quarterly basis.
They are a small range of mountains in a largely undeveloped area in Albemarle County, just southwest of Charlottesville, VA extending to the communities of North Garden and Batesville. The area is home to the Ragged Mountain Natural Area. Edgar Allan Poe, in his short story A Tale of the Ragged Mountains (allegedly inspired by time spent in the countryside as a UVa student in the 1820s), described the range as
a chain of wild and dreary hills that lie westward and southward of Charlottesville… there dignified by the title of the Ragged Mountains.
A Tale of the Ragged Mountains
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)