Our story has been much like “defining the relationship,” or finally making a relationship that has been around for awhile, “Facebook official.” 

We - Andie, Erin, Sammy, Sarah, Rita, and Tristin, are the Raleigh Distance Project. Our mission is to bring elite running to Raleigh, creating an opportunity for collegiate and post-collegiate runners to continue pursuing their full potential in training and competition. As we move within striking distance of qualifying for Olympic Trials, US Teams, and prestigious US road marathons, we want our community to come with us. Through our personal success and improvement, we believe we will have the credibility to fulfill our other passion: to get all runners in the Triangle area excited about their own running too, one person at a time.

So how did it all begin? This is our story:
5 girls. 1 SUV. The road trip from Raleigh, NC to Lynchburg, VA in September 2017 became the breeding grounds for a brainstorming session.
“Oak City Running!” Respectable, but not quite what we were going for.
“Sir Walter BABES!” It had a cute ring to it, but wasn’t serious enough.
“Raleigh Distance!” ...
We were certainly onto something with this one. The ideas being thrown around were much like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears. One was too hot, one too cold, and then…
“Raleigh Distance Project!”
One was just right. It illustrated our desire to develop distance runners in Raleigh... But did it flow? Would it stick?

We needed something that would put a name to our faces; the ones that did whatever it took to run together, despite conflicting work and school schedules. This usually meant waking up at 5am. Were we crazy? Maybe. But those early morning runs through the streets of Downtown Raleigh brought our passions for running together, forming a bond we knew needed to be expanded. We needed a symbol for our efforts of spreading love for running in our communities and for gathering support to fuel our own running endeavors.

The question of whether Raleigh Distance Project fit was answered after staying with the Elite Athlete Coordinator of The Lynchburg Ten Miler, Bret Boman. 
“Will the RDP squad be sticking around for the after party?”

When someone lovingly gives you a nickname, that’s how you know you’ve got something that will stick. We knew we needed to put a ring on it, for RDP was here to stay.

The Original Founders of the Raleigh Distance Project at our first race, the Virginia 10-Miler (from left): Sarah Rapp, Tristin Van Ord, Andie Cozzarelli, Tereza Novotna, Rita Dorry, & Erin Clark

The Original Founders of the Raleigh Distance Project at our first race, the Virginia 10-Miler (from left): Sarah Rapp, Tristin Van Ord, Andie Cozzarelli, Tereza Novotna, Rita Dorry, & Erin Clark

It’s funny how when people are meant to be together, they are purposely placed within the same longitude and latitude of each other. What are the chances of two NC State Cross Country and Track grads staying local to continue their training? A passionate runner from California who came to Raleigh to attend medical school? Two collegiate runners, one from Virginia Tech and one from App State, moving back without any established program?  Or a Raleigh born and bred lawyer, pursuing her love for running in her city? Even crazier - all of them living within a mile of each other. 

We believe having credibility means two things: experience and passion. We know we need to develop the credibility to have the impact we want. So we will continue to compete and grow individually, spread advice and enthusiasm at the various running meetups in the area, connect with various organizations to form mutually beneficial partnerships, and host our own weekly morning runs at Happy + Hale — because we WANT to. Raleigh’s unique, local vibe deserves unique and local role models.

Our support from our coaches and sponsors put us in position to do what we love, influence and motivate others. Come run with us, support those that support us, and let’s become better together. Your success is our success.