There are two types of runners in this world: those who run alone, and those who run in groups. The all-female running team of the Raleigh Distance Project has picked their preference.
Back in September of 2017, the 6 women founders of the Raleigh Distance Project made plans to race the Genworth Virginia 10-miler as a team. As they continued training and racing together, the girls realized the benefits of training with other people. It boosted their motivation, inspired them to push harder in practice, helped lift each other up through the inevitable hard times and celebrate the wins. The saying “misery needs company” was never more relevant when you have a group of girls out the door running together at 5 a.m. before work. This led these now 7 runners to create the Raleigh Distance Project (locally known as “RDP”). Immediately after the race weekend, they dove head first into creating their organization which included filing for incorporation, obtaining their 501(c)(3) nonprofit status. Their goal was to help aspiring runners reach their goals, create enthusiasm for the sport and increase the strength of the running community in the city they loved.
This is not your usual Salomon-sponsored team. You might have noticed that these ladies aren’t so much into rocky trails and muddy downhills, rather, they are road runners, training for 1-mile races, 5 and 10Ks, half-marathons and marathons. Their first goal is simply to improve. Being able to set a new personal best on a 10K can feel just as good as winning a race. The girls train at least 3 times a week together, along with some gym sessions for injury prevention. While races are on hold, they are currently shifting their focus to becoming mentally and physically stronger for future successes. Many of the women are chasing high-level goals like breaking 2:45 in the marathon or reaching track trials that require sub 15 minute 5ks and 32 minute 10ks. But these goals take time, patience, and commitment, which is what RDP seeks to provide.
When races return to the calendar, most of the team have their sights set on qualifying for the Olympic Trials. Other goals include competing in US championship road races & major marathons. This year the mark for qualifying for the women’s marathon trials was 2h45’, while the mark for half-marathons was 1h13’. As a part of RDP, Kim Maloney and Shari Eberhard both qualified for the Olympic Marathon trials for 2020. In the past, Andie Cozzarelli also qualified for the Olympic Trials marathon with a 1h12’ half. Kim, who has had multiple NCAA championship appearances in the past, ran her debut marathon in a personal best time of 2h43’ at the Houston Marathon in 2020. RDP has also produced US Indoor National Championship qualifiers in addition to a few other Olympic Marathon trials qualifiers.
But that is not the only goal of the RDP runners. Aside from improving their PRs and qualifying for the Olympic trials, these ladies have been able to create a great momentum around road-running in the region around Raleigh called “The Triangle.” Each week, more people come to run with them at their weekly community group runs, with different pace groups to cater to as many people as possible. The “Cup A Joe Run”, a dreaded 6 a.m. run, now rounds up over 40 people every week. This helps the community to find the motivation to start their day, go through good and hard times, and simply enjoy being part of a collective. “A big part of what we do is sharing our story and giving perspective on what running is like” Kim says. “Our biggest goal is to be involved in the community, which in the end will lead to progress and reaching goals constantly.” Goals that tend to focus on performance-only can add undue pressure creating an unhealthy mental state and hold you back from reaching your true potential. RDP considers the community wing of the organization to create the best opportunity between reaching higher-level goals and enjoying the process.
“The women of the Raleigh Distance Project have been an inspiration not just to us here at Salomon, but to the larger running community, since its inception. Their successes illustrate the strength that can be found in community when a group of like-minded, passionate and talented people put their efforts toward a common goal,” says Erin Cooper, Running Marketing Manager for Salomon in North America.
As of right now, the ladies of RDP are using the new Sonic 3 road running shoes, which they praised for their stability, fit and cushioning, as well as packs such as the ADV Skin 8. They are very excited about taking part in the development of future products with Salomon.
Photo credit Alexa Miller Gallo ©