Our Coaching Staff
Coach Dan Blankenship is our club’s Founder and President. He has been coaching for over twenty years and is the overall Head Coach for our training programs. Coach Dan ran track in high school and college – is a USA Track & Field Certified Level I and Level 2 Endurance Coach (currently a candidate for Level 3 which is the highest coaching certification in USATF) and a Certified Personal Trainer. He has lead several large running groups, including serving as the Head Coach of the Sportsbackers’ 10k Training Team which included over 4,000 runners and 215 coaches. Coach Dan has been active in the running community for over 25 years. In his 25+ years, he has trained thousands of runners from 5ks through marathons. He has completed numerous 5k, 10k, over 20 half marathons and 50 full marathons but spends his time now running to help others accomplish their goals in our sport. He is also a Certified Personal Training. An Executive at Oracle, he has a B.S. degree in Accounting, holds several professional certifications including a CPA, and attended graduate school at both Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech….but we won’t hold that against him. He loves spending time with his wife, Cyndi (who also helps coach), and their children (3 boys, 1 girl), and two dogs, Lacey & Beau.
Coach Greg is our Head Coach/Technical Advisor to the team/coaches and is a Board Member of Race Team RVA Running Club. Greg started running track in the 6th grade and has been running ever since. He is a USATF Level 1 Coach & RRCA Distance Coach. He has been trained in coaching Middle Distance Runners by Scott Simmons of the American Distance Project & in the Effects of Altitude Training on Endurance Athletes at the USOC in Colorado Springs. He qualified for Boston 7 times & competed there 5 times. Greg has been coaching distance runners since 2002. His first marathon was Cleveland Revco in 1982 on a bet – which he won – clocking a 3:20. He is a USATF National Level Track/Field/Cross-Country Official and has officiated numerous NCAA conference championships, NCAA Southeast Regional Meets, Women’s Diamond League Pole Vault, & National Christian Collegiate Athletic Association (D-III) National Championships. He specializes in Vertical Jumps – Pole Vault/High Jump. He is a member of several clubs, including Race Team RVA, Richmond Road Runners, Annapolis Striders, Richmond Triathlon Club, & Richmond Area Bicycling Association. He refers to himself as a military brat, proud son of a father who served over 30 years in US Marines requiring his family to move around frequently. Although originally from Quantico, Va, he grew up in VA, SC, NC, OH, & attended high school in Japan. He received his undergrad from The Defiance College & MBA from the University of Findlay. Greg and his wife Deb, also an avid runner/coach/Boston Competitor have 6 children, & 8 grandchildren, making Hanover County their home with two dogs……We are looking forward to the day they all run their first race together!
Coach Erin is the Executive Vice-President of our Club and the Head Coach of our Ultra Trail running team. She started running as a child while living at The United States Military Academy at West Point, NY–where running and fitness was a way of life. In 2014 she ran the Richmond Marathon for the first time and had such a terrible experience she vowed never to do it again! Three months later she was back to training for her next race. She fell in love with marathons all over again at the 2016 Steamtown Marathon and qualified for Boston in the 2016 Richmond Marathon. After a dalliance with triathlons, Erin ventured off the roads and onto trail running, completing her first two 50ks winning first place in the female division. In 2018 she was on the podium again for her first 50 miler, 100k, and 100 mile races. She found her niche in trail running and is happiest with mud on her shoes and the peace and quiet of the mountains around her. Erin enjoys helping people through their journey of long distance running and is proof that a bad race does not define the love for our sport. Erin loves sharing her knowledge about road and trail running, including shoe selections for various races, strength training, nutrition/hydration, or just about anything to help you exceed at getting across the Finish Line. Since 2001, she has been seen carrying the American Flag in races to honor of all who lost their lives on 9/11 and for all our military–present and future, who volunteer to serve and protect our great country. We love her heart and spirit and you will too!
Coach Kelly is the Head Coach of our Short Pump team and a board member for our club. She caught the running bug in 2003 and has since run many races in distances from 5k to 60k. Since 2007, she has coached 10k, 12k, half and full marathon training teams. She is passionate about helping other runners achieve their goals, whether that is to finish a new distance for the first time or to meet a specific time goal. When not running, Kelly works for a digital marketing agency and enjoys spending time with her husband, three boys (all runners), and two dogs. Plus she’s a Hokie and avid fan….gotta love that!
Coach Paula Bryant is a Coach with our Short Pump team – she began running in 2000 as a stress relief while supporting family members through serious health issues. Running became a way to continue managing stress, maintaining fitness and meeting new people and building friendships. Coach Paula has completed numerous half marathons, multiple 5K and 10K races, and sprint triathlons. She obtained her personal training certification and many times leads our group in dynamic exercises prior to our runs.
Coach Troy Unger is the Head Coach of our Woodlake training team. He found the love for running at an early age as he ran his first half marathon at age 13 and first full marathon at age 17. He ran Track and Cross Country at Mills Godwin High School and continued running after school down in Florida while working for a local running store and competing in many 5K and 10K races. He moved back to Richmond where he became a certified personal trainer and certified youth and agility coach for the past 7 years. In 2018 he ran his first Boston Marathon and completed his first 50 Mile Ultra Marathon in the Fall. Currently is the coach for Lucky Road weekly runs and track workouts from the Midlothian store location. Troy with his wife and 2 children have lived in the Midlothian area for the last 14 years. When Troy is not out running you will most likely find him at the Midlothian Lucky Road Running Store helping people find the best shoes and equipment for running or walking or you can find him at any of his daughters soccer games.
Coach Ann is the Head Coach of our Run/Walk training program. She has been with Race Team RVA for four years and has run numerous half marathons, 10K and 5K races. She started run/walking after recovering from a broken foot that she incurred while running a 10k (which, we note, she did finish). Ann feels that run/walk is a great way for beginning half marathoners to achieve the distance and can help runners ease back into running after an injury. She is an architect by day, specializing in school designs, and she enjoys coaching in her spare time. She’s our energizer bunny, packing a lot of energy! She is also the recipient of our “Coach of the Year” award for her dedication and commitment to our athletes and team.
Coach Megan has been running for several years now and enjoys trail running the best. She has run many 50k and three (3) 50 mile trail runs and she’s not done yet. Sports and encouraging others to succeed has been a passion since she became the Captain of her Cheer Squad in High School. She continues to motivate and inspire athletes to never give up, and to pursue their goals with passion. She’s our biggest cheerleader! She plans to run her first 100k Ultra in December 2019 and we are cheering her along. Go Coach Megan!
Coach Joe Burton is a Coach for our Sunday Training Team at Willow Lawn but you might find him helping on other teams as well. – he loves our sport of running and enjoys working with our athletes. Joe spent the past 25 years serving his country and community, including a stint as a Police Officer, so he knows the importance of physical fitness. But it was three years ago that he fell in love with long distance running. Since then Joe has competed in races ranging from 5ks to full marathons. He believes that all you need is the mental fortitude, positive motivation, and a good pair of running shoes to be successful in our sport. We agree Joe. He is currently training for his first 50 miler and has a 70.3 Iron-Man triathlon on his bucket list! Joe is an avid VA Tech football fan and in his spare time enjoys his kids, coaching baseball, and the outdoors.
Coach Christina Grande is an assistant coach on the Short Pump winter training team. She met Coach Dan Blankenship during a freezing morning in 2008 waiting to run the New York Marathon and a friendship developed. She has run 8 marathons, including Boston, and coached several half marathon and full marathon teams in the area. Due to injury, however, she had to stop running from 2016-2018. She is back now, and her current goals include being able to chase her kids, run a few half marathons, and motivate others to fall in love with running. She is a high school teacher/ college counselor by day and a mom of two girls and a dog by night. Christina agrees that running on a team is such a great way to make lifelong friends.
Coach Beth started running twenty years ago when her oldest daughter ran the kid’s mile run during the Monument Ave 10K race. It looked like such fun that she joined a training team for the 10K. After successfully running several 10Ks and other fun runs, she decided to run her first half marathon and has been hooked on our sport ever since. She now runs for the pure enjoyment and social connections it has made for her over the years. “I have met some of my best friends through running. There’s nothing like a running buddy – once a friend, always a friend, a bond that cannot be broken.” Running is a very portable sport and she takes it with her often during her travels as a way to explore new cities at a moderate pace. When not running Beth works as a safety and health consultant which is why she is the Club’s Safety Officer – which she takes very seriously. “As we tell our law enforcement officers: Your safety vest won’t stop a car. The car, truck, bus, will ALWAYS win.” Her motto is: Be seen, be safe, listen with your eyes and your ears, and assume no driver ever sees you. Safety First! So if you hear her yell “watch out for that car!”, take her seriously – it’s her role on our team!
Coach Robbie started running in 1998 so that he could lose weight and feel better about himself. He felt like he was never built to be a runner, but somehow defied the odds and did it anyway. Once he started, he was hooked. Since then he’s run upwards of 50 races, from 5K’s to full marathons and 20 of those races being 1/2 marathons. While he may not be the fastest on the course, Robbie is great at maintaining a steady pace, staying positive, and serving up some puns that are only about 1/2 as good as his full puns (pun intended). Robbie took some time off from running and is working at not only rebuilding his endurance in 2019, but also encouraging his team of runners along the way. When he’s not running, Robbie is an Occupational Therapist in a skilled nursing facility and he enjoys working to rehabilitate those who have been through life changing events. He received his master’s degree from VCU and his undergrad from Virginia Tech. His motto is “We are all a work in progress and are capable of more than we know”. Let’s do this, and of course, Go Hokies!” Yeah Robbie, we love the Hokies too!
Coach Cyndi started her running career on a Disney Cruise ship when a friend challenged her to run instead of walking between the bow and stern of the ship. Her first response was, me? Run? I don’t like running! But once she started, she realized she could finish her workouts quicker, which allowed her more time to pursue her mission on the cruise of relaxing and drinking wine….but she also realized it gave her more energy and she felt great! (this is what we call the inner runner coming out). Shortly after moving to Virginia, she took on her first 10k and ran the Monument Avenue 10k race. Then she tried a half marathon. After some great advice (from her coach), she improved her race times and had many PRs – she knew then she was hooked for life. In 2012, she ran her first full marathon. Cyndi’s high school friends on FB asked, “when did you turn into a runner?” While she loves the health benefits that running provides, its the camaraderie of fellow runners that call her back to the open road. Cyndi is known as the big cheerleader because of her energy and enthusiasm. She truly enjoys encouraging and welcoming each runner to do their best and enjoy the sport she loves so much. But being married to our head coach, she will tell you that he made her do it. We don’t believe that Cyndi, nope, not for a minute!
Coach Andrew Hardymon started running 5k’s and 10k’s when he was 8. He ran track and cross country in Middle and High School in NC, where he grew up. Andrew took a hiatus from running while studying at Duke University (there was basketball to watch….). He was inspired to take it up again while living in Boston. Soon after, he moved to VA and ran local races before running his first marathon in 2000. Since then, Andrew has completed over 25 marathons and several 50k’s. In 2019, he ran three marathons in a 15 day period while training for the Blue Ridge Double Marathon which he ran in April, 2019. Andrew enjoys running and helping all levels, whether they are seeking a PR, or simply trying to get fit. When not running, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Sarah, and their four children, and is a passionate Duke Blue Devil fan.
Coach Alan started running seven years ago to support Tammy’s first marathon and he’s been hooked ever since. In 2012, both Alan Trained for, and ran the Richmond marathon, finding a love for the sport something she shares with his wife Tammy. Alan has helped coach many runners through 8k, 10k and 12k races and found that giving back to the sport he loves much more rewarding. He developed a passion for long distance running as well as trail running (and the struggles that go with it), but his real passion comes in seeing the faces of runners he has helped to coach reach their goals. He will tell you that nothing compares to being a coach and the joys realized in helping someone, not only cross the finish line, but helping them get to the starting line and seeing them do something they never thought they would be able to. He claims the best seat in the house during a race is at the finish line! He may act a little crazy at times, but that is what makes Alan a terrific coach and friend. If he can do this, so can you!
Coach Robert LaRock ran cross country and indoor/outdoor track in high school. He stopped running when he joined the Marine Corp since the physical demands and challenges of serving in the Marines kept him fit. However, his love for running never waned so in 2013, he joined his wife and starting running again. He hasn’t stopped yet. Coach Robert ran his first half marathon in 2015 and his first full marathon in 2015. Since then he has gone on to run a 50k race and completed his first sprint triathlon in 2017. He has recently taking up trail running/racing and may join us this summer for some of our Sunday trail runs too. Coach Robert has also coached 8K, 10k and 12k teams. He will be coaching at our Willow Lawn location. We are proud to have him as a coach and thank him for his service to our country!
Coach Doug Fernandez – not pictured…..but ask us about his story and we’ll gladly tell you. He’s won several master level running events and continues to run a sub 3 marathon.
Coach John Snuggs – not pictured….is a Coach with our Short Pump team. You can often time find John bringing up the back of the pack runners, cracking jokes and entertaining the team during their longer runs. Coach Snuggs is over halfway along in his quest for a marathon in all 50 states.
Coach Debra Roth – not pictured…..is of course the wife of Coach Greg Roth. Debra has run several marathons and half marathons and has coached many runners across the finish line. She and Coach Greg help support our Sunday group runs from Willow Lawn. WE love our coaches that have made it a family affair to coach for our team!
Fitness/Core/Strength Instructors & Partners:
Michael Harlow, Founder & Director, Endorphin Fitness and Coaches Ryan Middleton and Erin Horil
Paul Caminiti, Founder and Head Instructor for Team Adrenaline, USA