Former Raiders Launch Business to Keep Runners Going


No matter the scale of operation, business plans small and large need determination as well as a working partnership in order to get off the ground.  Trails & Tarmac, a coaching business designed to help runners reach new goals, boasts both of these traits.

The friendship developed by Southern Oregon graduates David Laney and Ryan Ghelfi began their freshman year when the two competed on the school’s cross country team.  Details of the actual incident when they met have been lost in time, but the story involves freshman Ghelfi being locked outside of the dorms in only a towel and Laney rushing to his rescue before the two had ever been introduced.

Whether it was trust developed in that moment or the shared passion to win a National Championship that connected the two young men, their fate in running and adventure had been sealed.

Fast forward eight years. Laney and Ghelfi both hold degrees from the SOU business school. They won the only cross country national title in the school’s history. David spoke at Ryan’s wedding and they worked jobs ranging from mountain guides to shoe salesmen in order to pay bills. Oh and they both signed with one of the most competitive organizations in the growing world of ultra running: Nike Trail Team.  While workouts and life around them changed it would seem that their friendship and love of running would stay the same.

Now, both 27, and back in Ashland after brief stints in other states, the two have created a business plan from a model they used for their senior capstones which hopes to help its clients, “run your fastest 5k on the road, qualify for the Boston Marathon or take on the toughest 100 miler in the mountains.”

For $185 a month, Trails & Tarmac teammates get comprehensive training programs and racing schedules based specifically on their experience, athletic ability and goals.  Having raced nearly every distance that’s offered in the world of running, the two boast a myriad of knowledge which they wish to share with their clients. tt2

Coaching and developing workouts for athletes across the country is not a new idea but Trails & Tarmac hopes that simplicity and efficiently will be their strong selling points. “We’ve shopped around and looked at all the competition,” Laney says, “We’re like the In-and-Out of running.  Not a lot of options, but we know what’s best and affordable.”

While the two plan on staying based in Ashland they hope to attract clients all over the country and provide running plans through text, talk and GPS technology. Trails & Tarmac will give anyone advice on how to get out the door, but Ghelfi says that the program will be very beneficial to post-collegiate runners who have not yet signed  professional deals, “When you graduate you no longer have a coach to tell you what races to run, how to train or even to put you on a bus.”

The first official athlete to join the team is 24 year old Rogue River native, Cole Watson.  As a former member of the University of Oregon, one of the most competitive running programs in the country, Watson raced alongside many teammates who signed professional contracts upon graduating. When Watson’s eligibility was up, he thought his running career might be as well, since no teams had expressed interest in him.watson

Through the running community in the Rogue Valley, Watson synced up with the coaching duo and is excited at the opportunity of continuing his career while trying out new lengths to race. “[At Oregon] you have structure with teammates and workout partners; then suddenly it’s ripped out.” If Watson is successful it may be the first testament to the new coaches training, but with a few inquires already trickling in and word getting around the running community, the workload for Ghelfi and Laney could increase any day now.

From Red Raiders to Nike racers, the love of running and pushing one’s limits is whats driven David and Ryan to put one foot in front of the other.   In this venture they hope to share their passion for the sport and help anyone trying to reach that next level.

“Everybody is way more capable than they think they are and they just need someone to tell them,” Ryan Ghelfi.