Blacksburg running legend Peter Dorrell helps build community at Runabout

Runabout Sports Events Manager Peter Dorrell poses next to a photo of himself that store owner and former Blacksburg High Coach James Demarco has on display in the back of the running store.. “First in Virginia history to win distance triple crown at a single state meet,” it reads.

Peter Dorrell has won a lot of races and he’s posted plenty of fast times as a distance runner. The 2008 Blacksburg High graduate still holds the fastest 5K time (15:13) in the history of Blacksburg’s outstanding cross country program.

His most memorable race, though, was the 800-meter final at the 2007 outdoor state track meet during his junior year. Peter stepped to the starting line having already won the two-mile (3200 meter) state crown the night before and the one-mile (1600 meter) that morning.

A win in the 800 would make him the first male runner in Virginia history to win the 3200, 1600, and 800 races all in the same state meet.

Coming down the backstretch of the final 400 meters, Peter fell behind when two of his competitors with “fresh legs” started to kick. Just when he thought he was running out of real estate on the home stretch, Peter found a way to surge.

“I had a race to the wire,” Peter recalled. “I closed the gap and out-leaned him to seal the distance triple crown.”

It was a finish so close that the winner was tough to determine even after watching a replay from the finish line, according to coverage on

All total, Peter won nine AA state championship titles (during a time when there were only A, AA, AAA classifications in Virginia) and was awarded the Gatorade Athlete of the Year.

Peter ran for William and Mary where he was named the Colonial Athletic Association cross country rookie of the year in 2008 and competed for the Tribe at the NCAA Championships. He also ran a 14:35 5K at the Penn Relays.

As the events manager and retail associate at Runabout Sports in Blacksburg, Peter now uses his expertise to help shape our running community and keep us motivated and moving. He’s brought a new sense of energy and camaraderie to the store’s weekly pub runs and always makes sure to recognize any newcomers to the group. Peter also coaches Blacksburg runner Josh Norris and will travel with him next month to the Special Olympics World games.

Peter Dorrell (right) with Josh Norris after coaching Josh at the 2018 USA Games in Seattle.

Peter Dorrell

Hometown: I was born in Gainesville, Florida, but I grew up in Blacksburg, where I live currently.

Age: 29

Occupation: Retail and Events with Runabout Sports

When and why did you start running? My brother thought I would be good and told me to run with his high school friends.  So I did.

Most satisfying running accomplishment? In my junior year of high school, I ran a 13 second PR (and an early season national fastest time), beating the two best runners in Virginia, who I had never been close to finishing with before. It felt pretty good.

Most frustrating running experience? I would say the hip injuries in college that left me quite confused, and the lack of trust from the new coaching staff, which made it difficult to move forward productively.

Who inspires and/or motivates you? I run because it is beautiful. The rhythm of your foot strike and breath melt away the distractions, your whole body in fluid motion, even effort and will in unison. In the quiet I rarely feel alone. It is a great time to listen to God. It might not sound so much like a who, but I believe the source of beauty and truth is a who, and I want to be more like Him.

Advice for runners transitioning from college to life after college? Ask the hard questions earlier rather than later. Ask with humility and honesty, and be available to the answers.

Favorite race? 1600

Longest race? 10K

Shortest race? 400 Meter

Trails or roads? What are roads?

Favorite NRV running route? Recently I’ve been going to Mountain Lake a lot and running from the lake to Wind Rock and back following the ridge line.

Music or no music?  Yes music, but not while I am running.

Any racing superstitions or rituals?

  1. Go to bed on time, and while unable to sleep, remember how much “rest” I am getting by laying down.
  2. When the official is about to call everyone to the line, take one last stride out.

Goals for 2019? Be honest.

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Jason Church: Ultramarathoner

Jordan Chang shares his passion for running and community


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