Our Coaching Staff
Coach Dan Blankenship has been coaching for over twenty years and is the overall Head Coach for our training programs. He 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. Has lead several large running groups & been active in the running community for over 20 years. Dan has trained thousands of runners from 5k through marathons. 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.
Coach Shawn Nghiem has been marathon coaching for 12 years. His running history is fairly straightforward. He was moderately overweight in college and realized he needed to change if he wanted to have a full and joyful life. He needed an outlet to manage his weight and so he took up running and has been running ever since. He loves running but more importantly, loves coaching. It’s the ultimate way to give back. Meeting new people, running together and just having fun with this sport became his passion. It really doesn’t get much better for him. He is on a personal journey to run a marathon in all 50 states and so far has 21 under his belt. Like many runners, Coach Shawn loves to eat. LOVES to eat. He can eat a ton. He knows all the best burger, pizza and donut places in RVA. Catch him on a run and ask him about it!
Coach Ram is our happy Coach and we sometimes refer to him a “Ramiman”. You will rarely ever seen him down. He loves sharing his passion for running with others. He has run over 17 marathons, most of them over the past several years. He started running in 2012, but in 2014 completed his goal of running a full marathon – since then he has been running three to four marathons a year. In April 2016, he completed his first international marathon in London and went on to complete the Rio Marathon in June 2017 and the Antartica Marathon in March 2018. When Coach Ram is not running, you can find him helping customers in his restaurant, Malabar Indian Cuisine in the far West End of Richmond. You might even find a few of our team members there too!
Coach Mike Williams ran track in high school and during his freshman year in college at Washington and Lee. He ran the mile, 800m and 3200m. Mike resumed running after college, starting back up with the Monument Ave 10k and eventually moving to the half marathon, where he completed 12 of them with a PR of 1:29. Mike then stepped up to the marathon, completing seven since his first in 2012 (Marine Corps). He has qualified for the Boston Marathon four times including most recently at the 2017 Chicago Marathon. His PR of 3:11 was set at the 2015 Boston Marathon and he will return to Boston in 2019. Mike loves to talk about running and is ready to help anyone trying to meet their goals, whether it’s qualifying for Boston, breaking 4:00 or completing their first marathon.
Coach Jim Morris is from upstate NY but moved to Richmond 28 years ago. He ran his first marathon 25 years ago after being challenged by some friends. Since then, he has run over 14 marathons, including Boston twice, and about the same number of half marathons. He received his MBA from VCU and has worked in finance at Anthem for the last 28 years. Jim and his wife, Patty, enjoy traveling (usually in the fall) which can make training for fall races difficult at times. Although from NY, he has southern charm and personality…..guess we rubbed off him…
Coach Teresa McNeely never intended to be a runner. A friend was training for the Monument 10k and she thought, “Hey, if she can run, I can run.” So she did. Day one was four miles. Two months later, she ran her first 10k in Ashland and has been running ever since. After being a member of the 10k training team a few years, she switched to coaching with the team. Her fellow coaches’ enthusiasm and encouragement led her to run a half and then a marathon. Teresa ran that first marathon in 2011 and is now up to 18. She considers the best part of running all of the friends she has made — and all of the food! She is eager to encourage both old and new friends as they are training for their races this season!
Coach Artie Strunk started running shorter races while attending Roanoke College. After graduating, his dad convinced him to sign up for a half marathon and since then, he’s been hooked! Artie’s favorite distances are the 10k and half marathon, but he has also completed two marathons. Artie is a pharmacist at St. Mary’s Hospital. When he’s not running, Coach Artie enjoys spending time with his wife and two young boys.
Coach Viquar (pronounced “V-car”) Shaikh started running in 2011 with 5K and 10K runs. He did his first half marathon in 2012 and, in 2013, completed his first full marathon. Coach Viquar got the running bug and has been running marathons ever since. In 2016, he began coaching others to run marathons, wanting to share his experiences. He has completed seven marathons and enjoys coaching athletes across the finish line. Having struggled with a plethora of injuries related to running, and some stupidity along the way, he has a lot of stories to share.
Coach Paula Bryant 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 16 half marathons, multiple 5K and 10K races, and sprint triathlons. She obtained her personal training
Coach Ed started out as a cyclist with a running problem, and after some great experiences with half and full marathon training teams decided to focus on running. He’s done two marathons, 10 half marathons, and a number of triathlons ranging from sprint to half iron distance. An adult-onset runner, he enjoys helping runners grow in fitness and in the joy of running and training with others.
Coach Ann has been with Race Team RVA for four years as the run/walk coach for the half marathoners. She has run five half marathons and numerous 10K and 5Ks. 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!
Other coaches not profiled above that work with our training programs include:
- Dwayne Clarke, Coach
Paul Caminiti, CEO of Team Adrenaline
Grandison Burnside, Founder and Coach for TRIGirl Training