Neal Gorman November 18, 2011 TWEET COMMENTS 1

Virginia Playground - Page 2

But, it is the elite, trail-running owners of Charlottesville Running Company and Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports, Francesca Conte, 38, and J. Russell Gill, 47, that have worked to place Charlottesville on the trail-running map.

Conte and Gill have racked up impressive trail-running performances over the years, currently coach other runners, host a weekly fitness radio show and volunteer for trail-protection foundations. In 2001, they began directing trail-running events and founded Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports.

Says Gill, "The proximity to the Blue Ridge Mountains, combined with the Charlottesville City trail system, make for a varied trail-running experience."

On September 24, 2011, Gill and Conte plan to show off their "playground" at the first annual Trail Runner Ultra Race of Champions (UROC), when many of the best ultra trail runners join trail runners of all levels to compete in a 100K showdown.

Q&A with Conte and Gill

How has trail running been integrated into Charlottesville daily life and how has this helped the community?

Conte: The [Charlottesville] trail-running community not only runs on trails, but actively builds and maintains them.

Gill: We founded the Charlottesville Trail Running Club, a group that not only organizes trail-running events but works to build and maintain trails, and started the Great Eastern Trail Series. Both brought more awareness to local trails. And people came into Charlottesville Running Company to learn about trail running here.

What has been your primary involvement and work within the Rivanna Trail Foundation?

Conte: I have been part of the [Rivanna Trail Foundation] Board for four years and lead trail-work parties and help organize major events, such as National Trails Day. My motivation is purely selfish—trails are one of the things I use and love the most.

What sets UROC apart from other trail races in the country?

Conte: The mission to bring together the best athletes is something common in other sports, but not in ultrarunning, and we feel this is way overdue. Ultrarunning is a growing sport and we created UROC to help propel it into a new era—bringing in more races and resources for elite athletes.



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