The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon has earned the “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” title by challenging runners with more than 7,430 feet in elevation change, more than any other road marathon in the United States.
This race is one of the few marathons that run along the famously scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, and proceeds from this non-profit event benefit the parkway and local charities. The full, half and 10k prove equally challenging yet rewarding on this mountainous course, and all runners receive Farm to Feet socks, unique finishers’ medals, shirts and local craft beer at the festival finish in downtown Roanoke. New in 2017 are two more challenges — the Blue Ridge Road Race Series is adding an official Double Marathon and Four Person Marathon Relay. While the double has been unofficial for years, the race will acknowledge the amazing accomplishment for the first time with support vehicles, official times, shirts, unique medals, and an awards ceremony. The four person relay will allow teams to tackle the elevation together with shuttles and team stations along the course. Registration for the relay will open before the end of the year. If you have young children joining you on race day, they can be included as well. The Carilion Children’s Family 1 Miler was introduced last year with assistance from the Roanoke YMCA with nearly 100 participants in the inaugural year. Event coordinators hope to get more little ones involved to encourage family fitness by offering the race at extremely low entry fees with the support of Carilion Clinic.Make a weekend out of your trip and check out the Down by Downtown Music Festival with free live music during race weekend in downtown Roanoke at more than five venues. Most of the music is free to the public, and the Saturday headliner is offered to runners at a reduced rate. The race also sells tickets to a Friday night pasta dinner and race staff pre-party which includes priority viewing of a free concert in Elmwood Park. Learn more at www.downbydowntown.com.