Plan an Epic Racecation with the Blue Ridge Marathon

The 2022 Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon (BRM) situates one of the “Hardest Races in the World” (Runner’s World) in one of the “Best Mountain Towns in the United States” (Outside Magazine). To plan an unforgettable getaway that encompasses a physical feat, world-class mountain views, live music, and top tier hospitality, read on for your itinerary.

Friday: Get Away to Virginia’s Blue Ridge

Make your way to Roanoke by amtrak, plane, or drive in on I-81 or by America’s Favorite Drive: the Blue Ridge Parkway. Then, choose from many lodging options:hotels close to the start/finish line, boutique downtown stays like The Liberty Trust , trendy airbnbs, or even beautiful campgrounds like at Explore Park.

King Room, Liberty Trust Hotel
King Room, The Liberty Trust

Once you check-in, head downtown to the packet pick-up and welcome party. Peruse the race merch, nutrition and fitness offerings at the race expo, then grab a local brew and boogie over to the Elmwood Park stage for free live music.

Blue Ridge Marathon Welcome Party, Elmwood Park
Blue Ridge Marathon Welcome Party, Elmwood Park

Once you’re ready for dinner, choose from over 50 locally owned, unique and delicious restaurants all within a short walk or drive from the expo. If you’re the kind of runner who dances out the pre-race jitters, head to one of a dozen venues hosting top-notch music for the Freedom First Down by Downtown Music Festival going on Thursday through Sunday.

The Freedom First Down by Downtown Music Festival is an upbeat collaboration between Downtown Roanoke music venues. Shows are within walking, scooter, or rideshare distance, so you can safely explore the city, while partaking in the culture of this “Top Adventure Town.”

Saturday: Tackle America’s Toughest Road Marathon

Get up early and head back to Elmwood Park and the area in front of the historic Patrick Henry for the main event. Enjoy an electric atmosphere while runners from all over the world warm up and grab their spot in the starting corral along iconic Jefferson Street. Once the starting cannon sounds, find yourself striving to complete one of America’s most rewarding running challenges. You’ll summit three gorgeous peaks (six for the double, two for the half, and one for the 10k), be cheered along by friendly Roanokers (some touting champagne!) and cross the finish line having completed one heck-of-a race. And that’s less than 24 hours into your trip!

(Just after the starting pistol. Jefferson Street, Roanoke)
Just after the starting pistol. Jefferson Street, Roanoke

The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon gets its moniker: America’s Toughest Road Marathon by covering more elevation change (7,430’) than any other road marathon in America! If the full 26.2 miles is too much for this trip, check out the other distances: the Foot Levelers Half Marathon, Anthem Star 10K, Freedom First Team Relay, and Carilion Family 1-miler. If you’re crazy, choose the Double Marathon. Any distance will give you the chance to say you have #RunBlueRidge.

(View of the BRM Course, Mill Mountain)
View of the BRM Course, Mill Mountain
View of the BRM Course, Roanoke River Greenway
View of the BRM Course, Roanoke River Greenway

After you’ve got that finisher medal around your neck and your free beer in hand, wander the Finish Festival while cooling down and cheersing the other runners. Treat your tired legs to some TLC in the recovery zone, grab that race merch you’ve been eyeing and refuel in the food tent.

Double Marathon Finisher, Finish Festival, Elmwood Park
Double Marathon Finisher, Finish Festival, Elmwood Park

From here, however you want to spend your post-race afternoon: napping, eating, or tending to your muscles, Roanoke has you covered. Peruse the options and make your plan using the BRM Racecation Planning Guide.

Saturday Night: Down by Downtown Music Festival

Venture back to Elmwood Park in the evening for a live concert (tune into @blueridgemarathon for news on who’s headlining). Then, cut-loose and explore all that Down by Downtown has to offer. Updates to the festival schedule will continue as the weekend gets closer!

Stilt Walker Dances to Down by Downtown Headliner, Elmwood Park
Stilt Walker Dances to Down by Downtown Headliner, Elmwood Park

Sunday Morning: America’s Slowest 5k

Before you get back on the plane or in the car to head home, get in a celebratory recovery run at the Blue Ridge Sunday Slow-K. This 5k starts at a leisurely 9am, tours the beautiful (and flat) Roanoke River Greenway, and finishes with hot coffee, donuts, and other tasty treats. Enjoy these final moments connecting with the Blue Ridge Marathon community while you soak in the sites, sounds, feelings, and tastes of your racecation in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

Joy at the BRM Finish Line, Elmwood Park
Joy at the BRM Finish Line, Elmwood Park

Find out more at BlueRidgeMarathon.com

Cover photo: Mill Mountain Star aid station, Mill Mountain Park

All photos courtesy of Blue Ridge Marathon

Places to Go, Things to See: