Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

( 45 reviews )
100% of reviewers recommend this race
  • Roanoke,
    United States
  • April
  • 6 miles/10K, 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 26.2 miles/Marathon, Other, Relay, Virtual Race
  • Road Race
  • Event Website

Preston Ramsey

Maumee, Ohio, United States
11 19
"Mountains & Moo-mosas"
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Race Management
Preston Ramsey's thoughts:

From the start, just know that if you want a race that is challenging AND incredibly scenic - you've found it! The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon earns all the stars (and probably even more than that) from me. Why? Keep reading!

MARKETING: I first heard about the Blue Ridge Marathon while walking around the expo for the Flying Pig Marathon in 2018. As you'd expect, a expo go'er interacts with MANY race reps, but the rep for Blue Ridge stood out above them all. She was by far the most polite and most energetic about her event. I had absolutely no issue signing up for their email list, which also entered me into a drawing for free entry into the race - I did not win that, btw. However, as a result, I've received email updates over the last year that kept me very interested in this race.

PRE-RACE COMMUNICATION: Speaking of emails, the ones focused directly at runners who have registered were always full of useful info (race weekend happenings, where to stay, what to see, etc) and left out any of the typical fluff stuff. The organizers do not beat around the bush in any of the communication - this race will be tough, but you can do it! The BRM Facebook / Twitter / Instagram accounts were always up to date and informative as well.

EVENT APP: I used it for logistical information, but not so much outside of that. However, my wife downloaded the app to track my progress. She reported that it was a little buggy and not the better of the tracking apps she's had experience using. It should be noted though the app's platform is very reminiscent of what some other marathons use, so I don't think Blue Ridge should get dinged on this. The fact that they offer an app with race info and tracking is definitely a plus!

RACE WEATHER: We could not have asked for better weather. Overcast, cool,

EXPO: I arrived in Roanoke late Friday night (the night before the race) and as a result, I was not able to attend the expo. :(

LODGING/PARKING: Rather than stay at a local hotel near the start, I opted instead to book a place through AirBnb. I was less than a 10 minute walk from the start/finish - which means I didn't have to worry about parking at all. Even if I had to drive to the start area, there did seem to be ample surface street/lot parking to satisfy the number of attendees.

COURSE: Let's be honest - the elevation chart doesn't do this race enough justice. THIS COURSE IS HARD, HARD, HARD. You're climbing (read: most likely walking) up the first of three mountains - which just happens to be the LARGEST of the three - within a mile of the start. I overheard tons of people give the same advice in the starting area: conserve your energy early or you'll hate yourself later. This also plays into why the pace team's fastest pace group was 3:45! However, once you make it up to the top, the views are absolutely stunning for MILES. But don't be fooled - what goes up must come back down and the downhill sections are just as challenging as their uphill relatives. If you're signing up for a future Blue Ridge Marathon, my advice would be to almost exclusively train on hills. Speed work MIGHT help you finish, but hill work WILL ABSOLUTELY get you there.

MEDAL: It's a big, vertical rectangular medal that celebrates two main focal points of the event - 1) the over 7000' of elevation change traversed and 2) the fact that this year's race was the 10th anniversary. It's a very nice medal indeed (see the accompanying photo!)

OTHER SWAG: I picked up my bib a few hours before the race and I was surprised that I was the only one there when pick-up began! I came to learn that this event is incredibly low-key which I love. I also did not register for a shirt, but ended up being offered one - so I took it! The only other "swag" that is worth noting are the FREE race photos. Within a few days of the race, I got an email saying my photos were ready to review. With the exception of a few (trust me, we all have THOSE pictures), they really turned out very nice!

SUPPORT: Such a great race for support. The Roanoke community truly comes out to celebrate their race. Plenty of spectators and tons of helpful volunteers helped to make the pain of all that elevation melt away - or at least made me forget about it for a minute or two! My favorite support location on the entire course was just after runners visit the Mill Mountain Star and are on the way back down Mill Mountain. At the halfway point of the race is a beautiful home overlooking the valley below, where the residents are distributing MOO-MOSAS! I may or may not have had one or two!

MY RACE: Due to the massive amount of elevation and my severe lack of hill training, the ultimate goal was to FINISH. That's it - get from point A to point B without falling apart. For the most part, I was able to do that without too many issues. Had to walk quite a bit, but not at the normal spots like mile 18-19 and onward, but off-and-on throughout the race - and for obvious reasons (elevation). The great part about a smaller race (only ~750 runners if memory serves me correctly) like this is the feeling as if I'm running in my own community, even though I'm a 6 hour drive from home!

Truthfully, this race was a challenge. I drove down the night before, didn't get a ton of sleep (but who does the night before?), ran the race, hung out briefly afterward with fellow BibRave Pros and other runners I had made connections with throughout the race, and then drove back home. A whirlwind weekend for sure, but I'd definitely be open to going back to Roanoke again.


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