Running Through Wild, Wonderful West Virginia
In September 2017, Patagonia funded our proposal to support Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services’ pro bono program and our rural outreach campaign. Some of the most difficult regions for us to reach effectively because of their unique geography are the central and southern regions of West Virginia.
To start our rural outreach campaign, our Executive Director, Emily Collins, and two women of legendary ultra-running status, Connie Gardner and Jenn Shelton, plan to run 300 miles through West Virginia to tour rural West Virginians over the course of 6 days during the Thanksgiving holiday of 2017. In doing so, we hope to hear stories from small, rural hollow communities about their past, present and future relationships between their land and livelihoods. The current day and changing nature of that relationship will create the template for us to provide necessary services to West Virginians to invigorate local entrepreneurship and develop land-based wealth for individuals and families within those communities.
Connie Gardner is a decorated ultramarathon runner accomplished across diverse road and trail distances. In 2012, she set an American 24-hour record by running 149.368 miles at the IAU 24 Hour World Championship in Katowice, Poland. In 2003, she was named the 2003 USA Track & Field Ultrarunner of the Year. In 2011, she was named the USA Track & Field Masters Ultrarunner of the Year and won three national titles, the 100 mile trail championship, the 24-hour road championship, and the 50-mile road championship, in three months.
She continues to win ultra races today, including the Canal Corridor 100 Mile Endurance Run in her hometown of Akron, Ohio; the Eagle Up Ultra 24 Hour in Canal Fulton, Ohio; the New Jersey Trail Series One Day 24-hour; and the Snowdrop Ultra 55-hour Race and Relay.
She coaches the Archibishop Hoban High School Cross Country team and individual runners through her company, GardnerRunning. She works closely with the nonprofit Collin Cares through Board membership and race directing.
Emily Collins is an ultrarunner and legal services entrepreneur. She founded and directs Fair Shake Environmental Legal Services and loves to run short and far. In 2017, she started competing in 100 milers, 50 milers, and 24-hour races. She won the Olander 24 Hour Ultra outright , the Doan Creek Trail Race 50k, and the double marathon at the Run With Scissors Trail Races. In 2017, she also took 2nd female and 4th overall in the Canal Corridor 100 Mile Endurance Run, 3rd female and 5th overall in New York's Beast of Burden, 4th female and 9th overall in the USATF 24 Hour National Championships, and 5th female in the USATF 50 Mile Road National Championships.
Besides her role at Fair Shake, Emily sits on the Board of Directors of Construction Junction in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the Haymaker Farmer's Market in Kent, Ohio, and the Portage Parks District Foundation.
Jenn Shelton is a joyful and accomplished writer and ultramarathon runner. She has set course records and held the women's record for 100-mile trail race. Her appearance in the book Born to Run was only the start of her running career. In 2011, she qualified to run in the Olympic Marathon Trials.