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Emily Chaney Bell
Chattanooga, Tennessee

Emily Chaney Bell started running at the age of 17 with her high school cross country team. Not only was she hooked from the start, but a running phenom was born, clocking personal bests ranging from 17:38 in the 5K up to 2:47:16 in the marathon. Moving around a bit allowed her to test her range throughout the region’s many great trail races, notching course records and racking up wins at some of the region’s classic trail and road races. After a break to give birth to her daughter, Leela, she is back at it.

What inspires you?

Being outside, beautiful mountains, great friends and family.

What gets you out the door?

I feel best when I’m outside. Too much time indoors makes me feel sluggish.

What do you think about when you run?

Everything…frustrations of the day, inspirations of the day, pretending I’m doing something great, planning all sorts of things. When Dancing with the Stars first came out, I would daydream I was a participant in the show and would choreograph all the dances in my head.

Favorite trail or running spot?

West Virginia has my heart, especially the New River Gorge and Tea Creek area of the Monongahela Forest, but anywhere road or mountain in the state is pretty phenomenal. I actually enjoyed and found inspiration in the running around Huntington, W.Va., while I was in grad school. In North Carolina, I love Dupont and Pisgah, but I also really enjoyed the roads around East Fork between Brevard and Rosman. I grew up in Maryville, Tenn., so Cades Cove and the trails of the Smokies are a favorite when I’m visiting family.

Favorite race and/or fun run?

Charleston Distance Run, Grandma’s Marathon, Frozen Sasquatch 25K, and Shut-In. I love the Richmond Off-Road Xterra Triathlon.

Greatest accomplishment or moment?

Sharing an emotional Chicago Marathon with a dear friend, and running the Blue Ridge Relay while pregnant.

Running advice?

Slow down, have fun, smile and wave back at people, and listen to your body: it will tell you everything you need to know.

Favorite running workout?

Jus’ Running’s Maggot track workout when I’m in Asheville.

Cross-train? What methods?

Cycling, both road and mountain. Swimming, although I’m horrible. My husband just bought me a kayak and I’ve been eager to learn.

Running hero or mentor?

I have found inspiration in my closest running friends and mentors. Norm Blair, Chad Newton, Rob Smith, Howard Nippert, Larry Taylor, Kim Sweetland, Doris Windsand-Dausman, and Anne and Mark Lundblad have always been heroes, and I have always admired Devon Yanko Crosby-Helms.

Do you give back to the running community in any way?

I built and maintained trail and helped with races at ACE Adventure Center back in the day. I have worked at many races in lots of places and volunteered. I have also been involved in the running communities of Huntington and Charleston while working for Robert’s Running & Walking Shop, and I get to Asheville as often as I can since moving to help out at Jus’ Running where I have worked since 2010.

Something quirky, weird, or unusual about you that most folks don’t know?

I have an earring that I haven’t taken out since I got it in middle school. I was shot in the eye during a drive-by shooting with a shotgun. And I send thank you cards or emails to race directors after events I have run.

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Mark Rostan
Valdese, North Carolina

After starting to run in order to impress a girl some ten years ago, Mark Rostan has compiled an impressive list of marathon and ultramarathon finishes. Having completed 43 marathons and 26 ultras, including the 2014 Western States 100, Mark has developed an insatiable desire to run the high mountain ridges surrounding him in Western North Carolina. He enjoys feeling like a kid again while bounding over technical singletrack, seeking out scenic overlooks and rhododendron tunnels in lieu of chasing times on a clock.

What inspires you?

The big and the small of our world. Thinking about the enormous cosmic and geological forces that are at work in the world and then thinking about how on the opposite end of the scale are bosons, quarks, and photons operating at a subatomic scale.

What gets you out the door?

My feet. Oh, the places they will take me!

What do you think about when you run?

When I’m with a friend, the discussion could be anything from Gilligan’s Island, to Bitcoins, to American history. When I’m alone, I’m typically thinking about what’s around me, trying to take it all in. As fatigue sets in, I might find myself thinking about a shower and the sofa.

Favorite trail or running spot?

The Mountains-to-Sea Trail, given that it has 1,000 miles of varied terrain.

Favorite race and/or fun run?

I’ve got to go off the grid here and say Pitchell. It’s a fun run, not a real race, though there is a time element in that you need to get to Mount Mitchell before the gates close. The reason I pick this one is because of how ridiculous it sounds on paper. Start at midnight on Mount Pisgah and run 67 miles with nearly 3.5 miles of climb, mostly along the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, to Mount Mitchell. To a large degree, the farther along the trail you get, the more technical it becomes. When you finally emerge onto the cobblestone path up to the Mount Mitchell summit, these tourists are looking at you and simply have no idea what you’ve done. It’s very much back to the basics. There are no shirts or medallions. There are no cheering crowds. Your reward is the feeling of accomplishment.

Greatest accomplishment or moment?

My wife, Leslie, has, by her choice, not accompanied me to any of my longer races or fun runs. But she and another friend of ours crewed for me at Western States, meeting me at several spots along the way. She ran the last quarter-mile around the track at the finish with me. That would be my favorite moment.

Running advice?

Just enjoy what you’re doing. Racing for time is fine, but if you can’t enjoy the experience, what have you gained?

Favorite running workout?

I really don’t train in the traditional sense. I will build up mileage to prepare for a race of a certain distance.

Cross-train? What methods?

Nothing structured. I try to go to the gym for weight training.

Running hero or mentor?

I am blessed with a lot of great people who share the same passion as me. I have a ton of respect for our Western North Carolina legends like Mark Lundblad, Will Harlan, Adam Hill, Jason Bryant, Anne Riddle Lundblad, and Annette Bednosky. I know I’m leaving people out, but there are so many. Also, you just have to admire Matt Kirk setting the self-supported A.T. thru-hike record.

Do you give back to the running community in any way?

I co-direct Table Rock Ultras, help the local Mountains-to-Sea Trail volunteers on their workdays when I can, and volunteer at some area races. Having done the directing thing for four years now, I have an appreciation for what RDs do and make sure that they know I appreciated their efforts in organizing their event. Same with the volunteers; I try to thank them at every aid station.

Something quirky, weird, or unusual about you that most folks don’t know?

I take piano lessons is about the most unusual thing that comes to mind, since I am 45.

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Adam Casseday
Elkins, West Virginia

Adam Casseday started running in 2002 as a way to relieve stress from a busy schedule while in optometry school. Clocking a sub-3 in his first marathon in Philadelphia (2:55) a year later, he then spent another year getting faster on the roads before his first ultramarathon in 2004 at the Capon Valley 50K. He quickly grew passionate about the trail and ultra scene and has been instrumental in the growth and protection of the trails ever since.

What inspires you?

Running is simply a big part of who I am. I’m inspired by training and the daily push to become better. I’m inspired by nature; I’m inspired by the fact that running makes me a better person; I’m inspired to share running with my son.

What gets you out the door?

The need to clear my head.

What do you think about when you run?

Many times, nothing at all, yet at times everything imaginable. Regardless of the subject, my thoughts and ideas always seem to have a dream-like flow where everything just makes sense – when the run ends, similar to dreams, many times my ideations have eluded permanence.

Favorite trail or running spot?

North Fork Mountain Trail, Monongahela National Forest near Seneca Rocks, W.Va.

Favorite race and/or fun run?

Three Days of Syllamo in Arkansas.

Greatest accomplishment or moment?

My most satisfying moment in running was completing a thru-run of the Appalachian Trail over 71 days in 2011. My wife crewed me along the way and we had a tremendous adventure and journey together.

Although I have won a few races over the years, my most memorable racing moments oddly come from a pair of third place finishes – 2008 Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 (my first hundred) and 2012 Highlands Sky. Both of these races were immensely satisfying to me for various intrinsic reasons.

Running advice?

Think long term—don’t focus too much on what others are doing (you are an experiment of one), learn to listen to your body, and try to keep running and life balanced.

Favorite running workout?

Long, slow runs in the mountains alone.

Cross-train? What methods?

Some weights in the winter, but mostly I subscribe to the notion that if you want to become a better runner, run.

Running hero or mentor?

Dan Lehmann. I don’t know if I would have ever gravitated to trail running or ultras if it were not for him.

Do you give back to the running community in any way?

I am the co-race director of both Highlands Sky and the West Virginia Trilogy – alongside my friend Dan Lehmann. I do trail work each year on the trails those races use. This year I have spearheaded an effort to build some trails in a wildlife management area in my hometown of Elkins, WV.

Something quirky, weird, or unusual about you that most folks don’t know?

I play the banjo and would like to be a professional fly fisherman. •

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