Another year, another spring, which means another year running America’s Toughest Road Marathon, Blue Ridge Marathon. This race I hold close to my running heart. It is this course I ran my first 10-K and returned the following year to run my first marathon.
Why would someone choose American’s Toughest Road Marathon as his or her first?
Well, I started running 4 years ago and I drove to Roanoke to experience my first ever 10-K. I remember getting set at the starting line looking for the famous Roanoke Star. And there it was, sitting on top of Mill Mountain. At the time, I thought Raleigh had elevation. I pushed up the road toward the star picking up my feet focused on seeing the star. I remember the excitement seeing the top point of the star as approached the top of Mill Mountain. It was here I was thankful the downhill was coming. And I thought I was speeding down like an unstoppable force. Then as I approached Jefferson Street, the half marathon pace car and race leader zoomed by. I thought he had a rocket behind him, but his stance looked as he was gliding on the asphalt.
Early in my running hobby, I proclaimed, “I’ll run a half marathon, but never a marathon.” I changed my tune in Roanoke. It was when I saw a repost on @brm26pt2 of a runner’s silhouette arms wide staring out from one of Roanoke Mountain’s overlooks. I was hooked and registered early for my first marathon.
This year is the 10thanniversary, but my 5thyear running one of Blue Ridge Marathon race series. In honor of 10 years of race that brings awareness to the beautiful outdoors of Roanoke and its surround areas, I decided to re-run the Marathon. Here is why you need to run either the 10-K, Half, or Marathon (the Double option has Sold Out again!)
- Bragging Rights: The race is called “America’s Toughest Road Marathon.” Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment on its own. But imagine standing around the water cooler with a finisher’s medal with over 7,000 feet in elevation, while your friend complains having to make two trips to the car to grab groceries. Also, its 7,430 feet, but who’s counting.
- Do it for the Gram: Three mountains, three opportunities to get that Gram-worthy photo.All racers will get an opportunity to snap a photo from the Roanoke Star with either the Star or Roanoke in the background.
- Down By Downtown: Surrounded by the race are multiple live music opportunities. You have your choice of free concerts on Friday, which is not far from where you pickup your race packet and expo, or on Saturday during the finish festival where you relax and relish your recent accomplishment of finish your race. For more live music, there is a triple act headline concert during Saturday’s ticketed event with Rubblebucket (Bonnaroo 2019), Tank and the Bangas (2017 NPR’s Tiny Desk Concert Contest winner), and Spafford (Bonnaroo 2018).
- Jeff Galloway: If you have been running a while, you have heard of Jeff Galloway or his running interval technique. In honor of the 10thanniversary, he is running the marathon! How many times can you say you raced with an American Olympian?
- First in State: There are several states that are not represented in this year’s race. If you are the first (check the site to see if your state is not yet represented), you receive a handmade mug and a chance to stay at the beautiful Hotel Roanoke in downtown near all the weekend’s activities.
- First to Race: For the first time, Blue Ridge Marathon has added a Sunday Slow-K and named it America’s Slowest 5K. The race is untimed and instead of a race shirt, a SlowK coffee mug. Also, feel free to sleep in the event starts at 9 am.
- Craft Beer: Roanoke has a growing beer scene, which includes sponsors Parkway Brewing and Ballast Point. So, looking to recover from the run or tell some race stories over a pint is not the toughest thing you’ll do this weekend.
- Food: The pre-race dinner is hosted by Martin’s, a great restaurant in Roanoke. However, you need to reload all those calories. Food trucks are parked at Elmwood Park, but there is Fortunato, The River and Rail, and Lucky, which are also my favorites.
- Great Atmosphere: Running this multiple times, you learn some of the traditions of the race.The Moo-mosas on the way down from the Star, the bugler on the Blue Ridge Parkway as you approach and leave Roanoke Mountain, and sparkling wine and strawberries when you finally crest the mountain in Peakwood. In between, you get the feeling the residents of Roanoke are cheering you on. Sidenote: While I was drafting this post, I met up with someone who lived on the course! She was so thrilled and thankful that I was promoting a race in her hometown.
- The Medal: This will be my second marathon medal.But, because the intensity of the race is closer to Ultramarathon than marathon, the marathon medal has traditionally been a belt buckle. The other race medals are just as cool, making the complete your race goal worth the effort. Also, if you complete the Blue Ridge Half Marathon, Marathon or Double Marathon, you can earn the Triple Crown medal by running the Salem Half Marathon and Star City Marathon later in 2019.
But, wait – there’s more! If want to experience all these 10 things now, you can register at the lowest price before hits the next price level and save 20% with my promo code: AMBASSADORART20.
See you there and Keep Wandering!