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……
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.
- 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 twenty five 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 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. Still, after two and a half decades of coaching Mark is perfecting his craft.
Todd Morgan, University of Virginia women’s head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach, joins the Ragged Mountain Racing team as he assists with the development of his post-collegiate athletes in Charlottesville. Morgan joined the UVA program in 2012, and had spent the previous three cross country seasons as the primary cross country coach and four-and-a-half years as an assistant track and field coach at Florida.
In his first track and field season at UVa, Morgan coached Morgane Gay to a fifth-place finish at the 2012 NCAA Indoor Championships and four All-Americans at the national outdoor meet, including Gay (1,500m), Chelsea Ley (5,000m), Kathleen Stevens (5,000m) and Catherine White (10,000m).
Morgan’s women’s distance crew helped the Cavaliers earn a second-place finish at the ACC Outdoor Championships, their highest finish since 1995. White was the ACC Champion in the 10k and third in the 5,000m, while Gay placed second in both the 1,500m and the 5,000m.
Morgan directed the Florida women’s cross country team to back-to-back SEC Championships in 2009 and 2010 and mentored Charlotte Browning to the indoor 1-mile run and outdoor 1,500-meter NCAA individual titles in 2010.
During the 2011 cross country season, Morgan led the Gator men to a runner-up position at the SEC Championships, their highest SEC finish since 2007, and the women to their eighth straight top-five SEC finish, placing third. The men went on to finish second at the NCAA South Regional Championships, automatically qualifying them for the NCAA Championships.
At the 2011 NCAA Championships, Dumisane Hlaselo finished fourth in the men’s indoor 1-mile and fifth in the 1,500m, while Genevieve LaCaze placed fifth in the women’s 3,000m steeplechase to earn First-Team All-American honors. Cory McGee (women’s 1,500m) claimed second team honors. The men claimed their second straight NCAA Indoor title and finished the outdoor meet third overall, just two points behind NCAA Champion Texas A&M.
Morgan was named the 2010 South Region Indoor Women’s Assistant Coach of the Year for his work with Browning, who in addition to her two NCAA titles, won three SEC championships, including the indoor 1-mile, indoor 3,000m and outdoor 1,500m.
He guided the Gator women’s cross country team to one of their best years in program history in 2009, when it won its fourth SEC Championship and placed seventh at the NCAA Championships, its best national cross country finish ever. Rebecca Lowe won the SEC and NCAA South Region titles and earned SEC Female Athlete of the Year and South Region Female Athlete of the Year honors, while Morgan was named the SEC Women’s Coach of the Year as well as the South Region Women’s Coach of the Year.
Before his time in Gainesville, Fla., Morgan was an assistant track and field coach at South Florida, where he coached four NCAA All-Region cross country performers and one, Christa Benton, qualified for the NCAA Championships.
Prior to USF, Morgan coached at Virginia Commonwealth from 2001-04. After serving as interim head coach in 2001-02, he mentored the sprints and jumps athletes, that included Tanika Brown, who won the 2003 NCAA East Regional, ECAC and CAA high jump championship and was named the CAA’s Freshman of the Year.
Morgan began his coaching career at his alma mater, North Carolina, in 2000, working with primarily the cross country teams, sprinters and jumpers.
Morgan earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and communication from North Carolina in 1999. He served as the Tar Heels’ cross country captain in 1997 and 1998 and competed professionally for Nike Athletics America for one year.
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 do not have any strict athletic criteria for inclusion in our group. In fact, we believe that our group will be most successful if it incorporates athletes who have achieved various levels of success. That does not mean, however, that we have no expectations. Regardless of their current level of success, we expect that our athletes will strive to compete on a national or international level. Depending on your background, your experience, and an infinite number of intangibles, this could mean next year, or this could mean four. The bottom line is we want people whose goals are to achieve USATF standards.
In addition to that, 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 without some of the restrictions. 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)