Board Election Time!


Well, we didn’t quite get the system up and running by Tuesday, November 7th, it’s working now and it’s time to vote for five candidates in the CATs board election! Any paying CATs member can vote. To vote, simply click on the Board Election link below, log in, and follow the easy-to-vote instructions:

Board Election

Votes are due in no later than Wednesday, November 14th, but think about getting your votes in today!!

In case you missed it earlier, we are expanding our board from 5 to 7 seats and also have three incumbents up for re-election (John Andersen, Christian Dahlhausen, and David Smith). That means we need members to vote for 5 of the candidates running this year.

We are lucky to have a fine group of new candidates step up to run for the board this year! The entire slate of 9 candidates, including the 3 incumbents, is as follows:

  • Amanda Blondeau
  • Bob Clouston
  • Chrissy Kutassy
  • Christian Dahlhausen
  • David Smith
  • Gary Hearn
  • John Andersen
  • Ken Nail 
  • Nicole Whitehead

To learn more about each candidate, we asked all board candidates to answer the following questions:

  • Question #1: What parts of the CATs mission do you feel particularly drawn to or well-suited to help with?
  • Question #2: In your opinion, what is the best thing about the CATs?
  • Question #3: What is (at least) one thing that could be improved with the CATs?
  • Question #4: What other comments or background can you give us that could be helpful to CAT members when they vote? (Limit your answer to 100 words or fewer)

Here is the CATs mission, as stated on our website:

The mission of the non-profit Charlottesville Area Trail Runners Club (CATs) is to promote the love of trails and trail running. We strive to welcome runners of all types into the world of trail running, to sponsor events that promote trail running, including trail races and social events, and to provide stewardship in developing and maintaining a high quality trail network in and around Charlottesville. This stewardship extends to helping preserve the areas through which trails run, including working to prevent and repair damage created by the use of the trails. Funds raised by the CATs are be used to further its mission.

Candidate Answers to Questions

When you go to vote, you can read candidate answer’s to each question by clicking on the “Candidate Bios” link. The answer are here as well:

John Andersen

  1. Welcoming runners with running events.
  2. Best thing about the CATs is the people – I love getting to know people of all different backgrounds, all different running backgrounds and all coming together out on the trails. My most favorite thing is seeing people hang out after a trail race.
  3. I think we need to step up our emphasis on trail maintenance and creation.
  4. I’ve been on the CATs board since the beginning and am happy to continue to serve if elected. Either way, I’m committed to ensuring the CATS continue to thrive. Maintaining a trail community in our area is very important to me personally – it has been invaluable to my running and i want it to be here for the next generations to come.


Amanda Blondeau

  1. I full heartedly agree with the complete CATs mission, but an area I’m particularly drawn to is the statement, “We strive to welcome runners of all types into the world of trail running”. There is nothing more rewarding than helping someone achieve a goal they never thought they could, whether it is a 5k or 50k and still have fun doing it. I’m not a trained coach, but have had the pleasure to help others complete their first 4 miler and half marathon. Many times the biggest hurdle is believing they can achieve that goal and have someone to share in the process, especially when it gets tough. 
  2. The best thing about CATs is it’s more than a running club. When we moved to Charlottesville 2 years ago, we didn’t know anyone. It took us sometime to connect with the CATs as I was a little intimidated, but finally I pushed myself to join a Tuesday night run. The CATs were very welcoming and since then I’ve attended many more Tuesday night runs and CATs events. The CATs are more than a running group, they are a community. Along with being a community, the CATs offer many ways for people to get involved in trail running, whether it is through training program, summer series, or runs posted on the group pages. Trail running is much more fun with others, and there are no shortage of opportunities.
  3. There still seems to be some intimidation for joining CATs on runs. Many of the runs posted are a minimum of 6 miles, which is a long distance for a new trail runner. There are some amazing runners on the CATs, and the speed can be intimidating. Even with no-drop, most people do not want to be the person everyone is waiting for. Shorter, more beginner friendly runs could be added, as well as, increased awareness of how you don’t need to be an ultra runner or run 9 minute miles to run with the CATs. A second item would be creating more ways for CATs to connect through social events. This could include fun holiday themed runs, a slow group run coupled with pizza and an inspirational running movie, and more.
  4. Before joining the CATs I was primarily a road runner, partially because I was intimidated to be out in the woods during solo runs. I’ve now been bitten by the trail bug and will pick a trail anytime over the road. I can also understand how humbling it is to make that transition, as trail runners are typically tougher but they bring you to magnificent places like Blackrock Summit or Turk Mountain. Any of the board nominees would be great addition to the board, I’m honored to be nominated along with this stellar group. 


Bob Clouston

  1. I agree with the whole mission, but as an AT and Wintergreen trail maintainer I relate most to that aspect.1. I agree with the whole mission, but as an AT and Wintergreen trail maintainer I relate most to that aspect.
  2. I like the camaraderie among the group, people supporting each other in training and races, and becoming friends.
  3. Perhaps a more social component.  A running club I belonged to in Austin had a monthly Sunday late afternoon happy hour, after everyone was done with their races or weekend long runs.  This was a great way for runners of all abilities to socialize.  Maybe we could do the same.
  4. I’ve been running trails in Virginia since 2001, and ultras since 2004.  Even though I run as many road races as trails these days, I still love trail running and the community, and would like the chance to give back.


Christian Dahlhausen

  1. Since I have been a founding board member of the CATs I have always imagined the club to be welcoming to all and encouraging to new and old trail runners. I think we have made great strides towards that goal but also think there is room for improvement. As a new trail runner myself about 9 years ago I remember that it took a while to become more familiar with trails and certainly the running group (back then it was the Charlottesville Trail Running Club) has helped a lot with confidence and tips. Despite the love of trail running and playing outside I remember more than one (probably more than I can count) occasions when the alarm went off in the morning and the bed felt too good to get out of, that the commitment and fun to the group got me out of bed. You never regret going out for a run, but you may often regret not having gone.
  2. I think all the members that make the CATs the CATs is the best thing. I love that many friendships have formed over the years. Given the our demographic I think there is a wide variety of ages, abilities and motivations amongst the CATs.
  3. We are lacking a little in having social non-running events. – More short distance runs
  4. I have been running since I came to Charlottesville 9 years ago and enjoy being outside as much as possible. I don’t usually have a strict training schedule and try to keep it fun. My dog Abby is a trail runner herself and I take her as often as I can. I have been on the CATs board since the beginning and a ex-officio board member on the Rivanna Trails Foundation for the last two years. I enjoy the active trail community in Charlottesville and the greater area.


Gary Hearn

  1. I am drawn to exposing people to the world of trail running in order to allow them to view the beauty of nature and experience the camaraderie that comes with the shared experience. Seeing people tackle what they thought was an impossible task and overcome fear and doubts to complete their first ultra event is satisfying.
  2. That the club provides a mentoring environment where people of all ages and abilities can experience the joys of trail running. I am a proponent of not dropping anyone on the trails and helping those in the middle and back of the pack achieve their goals.
  3. I would like to see the club sponsor one signature ultra event during the year (20+ mile event). This would allow us to showcase both the terrain and beauty of the trails in the area and raise the profile of the club. I would also like to involve runners from outside the immediate Charlottesville are to include those in surrounding counties and in the Waynesboro and Staunton areas.
  4. I am a native of Charlottesville and have been running for over 40 years, the last 20 on trails. I am an active participant in the club and have organized and participated in numerous group runs. I would like to enhance the social aspects of the club and expand the area we run in outside of the immediate Charlottesville/Albemarle area.


Christian Kutassy

  1. The part of the mission that I feel most drawn to would have to be the welcoming of all walks of life into our running community with no judgement or criticism based off of where they’ve run before or if they’ve run at all.
  2. The best thing about the CATs is simply the sense of family. There’s always fun conversations, good lessons learned, and usually food at the end!
  3. One thing that could be improved is perhaps having a non running get together once in a while (i.e. Christmas party, National beer day) to switch it up.
  4. I started running recreationally in 2011, having since graduated up to Ultras, just recently completing Patapsco 50k. I’m a fun back of the packer, former obstacle course racer, dog mom, and run trails to escape the craziness of life.


Ken Nail

  1. As a professional copywriter and videographer, I hope I can use my talents to assist the board in reaching out to our community and beyond to support and grow our organization and sport.
  2. The welcoming attitude and opportunities presented to new trail runners, both with training groups and racing opportunities (Summer Trail Series, Cat-1/2).
  3. A weekly email/social media post that puts lists all the available group runs.
  4. I’ve been fortunate to have participated in many types of endurance events – triathlon, road races, endurance swims – but I feel like I’ve found a real home in the trail running community. I’d like to give back by helping our club continue to reach out to new and veteran trail runners, and provide opportunities to grow our sport while maintaining its spirit of community.


David Smith

  1. As a founding member of the CATs and the current CATs President, I’m a strong believer in all parts of the CATs mission, but I really like the idea of building a strong community of runners of all types that enjoy getting out to experience running on the great trails we have in this area. I love it that we have some of the top trail and ultrarunners in the state involved in our club, while at the same time we are home to many slower runners (like me!) who want to stay healthy and challenge themselves by getting out on the trails.
  2. I think one of the best things about the CATs is the social atmosphere. I think the CATs have gained a reputation as being a super-friendly and easy group to hang with, not only because we accept all types of runners, but because CATs – from the fastest of the pack to those in the middle and the back — are friendly, modest, and fun! I love that part.
  3. As we’ve grown and matured some, I think we are still missing the mark a bit on being involved with the maintenance, preservation, and growth of our local trails. Area organizations like the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike Club (CAMBC) and the Rivanna Trail Foundation (RTF) put a lot of effort into trail maintenance, as do our Virginia Happy Trail Running Club (VHTRC) cousins in Northern Virginia. Going forward, I think we could incorporate more organized efforts to do trail work.
  4. I’ve really enjoyed the 6+ years that I’ve been involved with the CATs and can’t believe we’ve come so far since we started up sometime in 2011. But I don’t think I’ve been more excited now as a club in 2017! We have a great and dedicated board – that will now grow to seven members – and an incredibly involved membership that has helped to put on great training runs and races, and widened the appeal of the club to span across ages, skills, geography, and backgrounds. But our club is still young and I think we have many fun adventures to plan and sponsor as we go forward!


Nicole Whitehead

  1. After reading the CATs mission I feel that I would be an asset to the board. I love meeting new runners and informing them about our group. Being an outgoing person, I tend to strike up conversations with perfect strangers. And once I get them talking, I love to convince them that trail running is the way to go! Thanks to the many friendly runners in CATs, it is how I made the transition into trail running. I would love to help plan more social events to help promote our club so that it may keep growing.
  2. The best thing about CATs? It is hard to pick just one thing, but I would have to say the feeling of FAMILY. That we are all special. Just this past weekend, at MMTR, I hung out with several CATs members. Many of them the top winners of the race. We chatted and laughed and cheered on all the runners coming in. We hung out at dinner and I got to know some more members better that I didn’t know that well. I have been in other social clubs before, but never have I felt this way about those groups. The people in CATs is what makes us so special.
  3. One thing that can be improved within CATs is to provide group runs in more areas. There are a lot of group runs west of town, and in town, but north of town gets a bit neglected. By adding some runs in these areas, we could attract more runners into our group! And I am happy to help here as I live north of town. I would love to invite runners to Preddy Creek Park and Chris Greene Park for some runs with the help of others.
  4. I first heard about CATs when I came to Crozet Running for an informational talk about trail running and the Promise Land 50k. I wanted to learn more about trail running and left signing up for CATs and Promise Land. The excitement and the love of trail running by other members is contagious. I caught the bug and have been sharing the love of the trail since that day almost 2 years ago. I have convinced many of my road running friends to buy trail shoes and join me on the trails. I would love to continue to share my love of trail running through serving on the board of CATs.

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