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.
Gray Gurkin “Coach Rocker” – Gray brings his Rock-N-Roll vibe of fun, excitement and grit to the team. He started running marathons in 2008 and is up to 15 and counting. He can be found coaching runners as well as participating in the CORE FITNESS program that Race Team RVA offers. The goal of Coach Rocker is to make running part of your lifestyle while enjoying the company of fellow runners along the way. Plus, occasionally you might find him playing his guitar and singing around town – Rock On Coach Rocker!
Coach Jessi Duke works part-time as a trainer for Epitome Networks and serves as our Training Team Coordinator as well as the Head Coach of our half marathon programs. Jessi and her husband, Chris, have two little girls, Lilli and Maddi. Running has been a passion of Jessi’s for a number of years. While she’s more of a half marathoner and short distance runner, a full marathon is definitely on her list. Jessi has been a coach since 2014 and enjoys helping people reach their goals. She and Coach Dan share the same birthday.
Coach Sarah Collier has been running since 2009 and has completed dozens of races from 5K to half marathon and everything in between. She serves as co-Head Coach for our half marathon programs. She has two young daughters and runs to show them that being fit and active is important for a healthy lifestyle. Sarah teaches at St. Christopher’s School, so coaching and leading others, whether in the classroom or on the road, is her passion.
Coach Jeff Holloway, a Richmond native, has been running the streets of RVA for over a decade. He ran his first Monument 10K back in 2006, and Monument continues to be his favorite race. Jeff is the Head Coach of our 10k & 12k Training Programs. He spent several years coaching after-school programs at local elementary schools, and, in 2009, was named “Coach of the Year.” In addition to running, Jeff enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife Jessica and young daughter Juliet.
Coach Jimmy Picard is a former D1 collegiate athlete for William and Mary where he competed in both track and cross country. He is a Doctor of Physical Therapy working at Progress Physical Therapy, a field he got into after dealing with his share of injuries. He is also (somewhat) fast – his goal is a 2:20 marathon. Dr. Picard sets the pace for our elite runners, that is, if they can catch him!
Coach Dan Cook is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, graduating from VCU in 2012, and works for Progress Physical Therapy. He specializes in orthopedic manual therapy and is trained in Trigger Point Dry Needling (TDN). Dr. Cook enjoys running and has completed several marathons and obstacle races. Other activities consist of road and mountain biking, rock climbing, disc golf, and cooking (of course …it’s in his name)! We call him Dr. Dan (or Coach Cook) so he is not confused with Coach Dan.
Coach Lanie LaTard is a graduate of University of Virginia (where she first developed her love for running) and is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, graduating from VCU in 2016. She is currently employed by Tidewater Physical Therapy, working out of the West End office where she sees patients, many of which are runners. She has competed in multiple races from 5k to full marathons. Lanie has been a running coach since 2014 and has many years of experience as a swim coach as well. A true athlete that brings the passion and spirit to each run – oh yeah, and she is competitive too.
Coach Sherry took up running later in life after her daughter was diagnosed with cancer in 2009. First a way to raise money for cancer research, the sport quickly became ‘therapy’ and saw her through some tough years. Since then she has raced 7 full marathons, 3 triathlons and many other races from 5K to half marathon distances. In 2015 she started her own business WellPower where she coaches small and corporate groups on overall health and wellness. Sherry is a certified RRCA Distance Running Coach, an ACE Certified Personal Trainer/Group Fitness Instructor and a Certified Yoga Teacher. In her free time Sherry can be found spending time with her husband and three kids, camping, reading or testing out new vegan recipes in the kitchen. Visit her website www.wellpowerfitness.net
Coach Caitlin Catella is the Director of Diabetes Programs for the Greater Richmond YMCA. She has a Master degree in Public Health, BS in Community Health Education and Nutrition, and is a certified Group Fitness Instructor. Caitlin competed in cross country and track while attending Ithaca College near her hometown in upstate New York. She has run several half marathons and three full marathons (including the Boston marathon, yay!). She is excited to be a coach and help fellow runners achieve their goals!
Coach Caroline is a Richmond native and runner for the past 8 years. She is a graduate of VCU and holds a BS in Kinesiology and Health Sciences with a concentration in exercise science and a triple minor in chemistry, psychology, and biology. She was a member of the VCU Women’s cross country, indoor, and outdoor track team competing in distance running events. She is a ACSM Certified Exercise Physiologist and works as a personal trainer at ACAC in Shortpump. She specializes in conditioning for endurance events. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, snowboarding, and watching french movies. She plans to do the Disney Marathon next year. Oui Oui Coach Caroline!
Coach Mike Biester started running longer distances 2009. In the past 5 years, he has completed 6 half marathons, 2 outdoor marathons and 1 indoor marathon. His most enjoyable race in 2015 was watching his 8 year old son compete in his first 5K at the Virginia Memorial Day 12k & 5k Run, Walk or Roll race. Mike’s goal is to help others reach their running goals.
Coach John Snuggs started running marathons in 2006. The marathon is his favorite distance both for training and racing because “you just don’t get to the good stories until you’ve been out there for more than 2 hours.” He has completed more than 65 races with more than half of those at the marathon distance or longer. John’s wife (and better half) Barbara has been known to train with Race Team RVA. He is still trying to convince his two boys in high school to run longer than a 5k. The whole family ran a Turkey Trot 5k together while carrying a frozen turkey in Cocoa Beach in 2015 – because that’s how they roll. John earned a BS in Aerospace Engineering long before he started running. He’s been developing software for a bit more than 25 years.
Coach Jean Wood has been running since 2014. She has completed two marathons, three half marathons, and tons of local 5ks. Her passion for running was fueled by the friendships she developed when logging hundreds of miles while training for her first marathon. She participated in her first half marathon while training for the full marathon. When she isn’t running, she can be found teaching 8th graders in Powhatan County. She loves being a coach and teaching others about our sport of running!
Other coaches not profiled above that work with our training programs include:
- Jackie Morgan, Coach
- Beau LeTard, Coach
- Ann Belanger, Coach
- Kathleen Lautzenheiser, Coach
- Samantha DeAlto, Coach
- Bobbie Davey, Coach
- Shannon Roberts, Coach
- Cinzia Rolling, Coach
- Cathleen Burrows, Coach
Paul Caminiti, CEO of Team Adrenaline
Grandison Burnside, Founder and Coach for TRIGirl Training
Head Chief Researcher:
D. S. Blaise Williams III, Ph.D., MPT is the Director of the VCU RUN LAB. Dr. Williams specializes in three-dimensional biomechanics as it relates to injury and recovery from running and landing injuries. Dr. Williams has spent the last 15 years studying runners and how running athletes move and get injured. His research is aimed at understanding and enhancing running mechanics as it relates to injury and performance. Clinically, Dr. Williams enjoys working with runners and running athletes at all skill levels.