Meet our first Trail Ambassador – Mark Nesfeder

Please welcome the first of our 2017 American Trail Running Association (ATRA) Trail Ambassadors presented by CamelBak.  For January we’re proud to introduce Mark Nesfeder from Warrenton, VA.  Mark gives back to his trail running community as a runner, coach, and trail advocate. Check back with us each month as we introduce another ATRA Trail Ambassador presented by CamelBak.

After moving to Warrenton, Virginia in 2003, Mark Nesfeder quickly became involved in promoting trail development in his new hometown. Not only is Mark an active trail and mountain runner, racing numerous times in the highly competitive World Masters Mountain Running Championships, as well as in ultras throughout the US and Europe, he coaches the Warrenton Middle School Warriors Cross Country team, and has served as the Center District Representative on the Fauquier County Pedestrian, Bike and Greenway Advisory Committee since the Committee was formed in 2007.

The Warrenton Middle School boys’ and girls’ cross country program started in the fall of 2015 with Mark as the first coach. That first season, 50 kids representing grades 6-7-8, came out for the team and both the boys’ and girls’ teams were Fauquier County Middle School Cross Country champions. In 2016, the boys program continued in the fall, with the girls moving to spring. Now in his third cross country season as coach, Mark looks forward to coaching the girls through six meets this spring. (The girls’ team won all five of their meets in 2015.) “The high schools are so excited about the middle school program,” said Nesfeder. “It’s like their farm team.”

Warrenton Middle School boys’ and girls’ cross country team

Mark shares his trail and mountain running stories with the kids who are very supportive of “Coach Mark.” Just after the start of the 2015 middle school cross country season, Mark traveled to Wales to compete in the World Masters Mountain Running Championships, and while in Wales, received a photo of support from his team.

In addition to coaching, Mark has been a tireless supporter and master at getting things accomplished in his local community. Ann Bennett writes in her nomination letter, “For more than a decade, Mark has been working on establishing a trail connection, the Timber Fence Trail, between two of Warrenton’s most popular recreational facilities, Rady Park and the Warrenton Aquatic Recreation Facility (WARF). Although this trail connection had been planned by the Town for years, it was unfortunately included with a 4-lane road bypass construction project. With citizens opposing the bypass, but supporting the trail, local elected officials were reluctant to approve and budget a stand-alone trail project. Adding to the hurdles was approval from the Fauquier County School Board for an easement across school property and a cost-sharing agreement between Fauquier County and the Town of Warrenton.

Mark sporting new kicks from our ambassador program sponsor Adidas TERREX.

Many of the Town/County issues were successfully resolved with the assistance of Center District Supervisor Chris Granger, a competitive runner and trail supporter. Without Granger’s efforts, Fauquier County and the Town of Warrenton would never have reached an agreement for the design, funding and construction of the trail.

Center District Supervisor Chris Granger

While Granger has assisted with trail funding and logistics, Nesfeder has been unrelenting in creating community support and keeping pressure on elected officials to plan not only for this trail connection, but future ones as well. Nesfeder’s many published opinion pieces and speeches at Town Council and Board of Supervisor meetings encouraging action on constructing the trail have often been a rallying cry to keep this effort going and in the public eye.

With challenging budgets already an issue and grant awards very competitive, it takes more than just a few individuals to keep projects like this going. Included in this effort has been the Fauquier County Board of Supervisors, Parks and Recreation and School Board, Town Council of Warrenton and the Town of Warrenton Recreation Committee.

Mark at the World Masters Mountain Running Championships

However, Nesfeder and Granger have been at the forefront of this trail connection for years and without their enthusiasm and dedication, this project would not be where it is today. With Town funding recently approved to begin the engineering and design phase of the Timber Fence Trail, this project still has a long way to go before construction begins. But, for those that have followed this issue for the past decade, the upcoming study is welcome news by trail and fitness enthusiasts throughout the area.”

Advice from Nesfeder in advancing a cause in your local community, “Be enthusiastic, passionate and persistent. And, when it (your project) shows up in print and online, it gets noticed.”

Some article links that trace the project. Note the comments below the articles to see how others are viewing the efforts.

As part of the ATRA Trail Ambassador program presented by CamelBak, Mark will receive product from CamelBak, as well as product from supporting partner adidas Outdoor.