Misadventures with wine, weights, and running shoes.

The Blue Ridge Marathon - It Takes a Village...or at least a small town.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Last Saturday, we ran the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and there is a lot that I could say about it. 

I could give you a play by play that echoes the similar sentiments of runners that have come before me; how it will destroy your quads, tackle your hamstrings, and send your caves and joints screaming. 

I could tell you about the three mountains that make up the race - Roanoke, Mill, and Peakwood - and how one will invigorate you, one will empower you, and the last will humble you beyond words. 

I could also tell you about how an increase in temperature can rob you of what energy you have left and turn an already difficult race into one that is simply brutal.

Yes there is plenty to be said about what makes the Blue Ridge Marathon America's Toughest Road Marathon but anything that I have said has been said numerous times before. Instead, I will focus on what makes this race worth coming back and doing again. The reason I wanted to ambassador for it in the first place. The reason I'll probably return in 2016 to do it all over again.

It is the people - the unsung heroes of the Blue Ridge Marathon.

Like most races, the Blue Ridge Marathon would not be possible without its volunteers. From runner check-in to medal distribution, volunteers maintain the structural integrity of a race; however, BRM volunteers are a class all their own. They are the heart and soul of this event infusing it with their personalities. The event boasts between 400 and 500 volunteers. That is about one person per full marathoner or per four runners (approximately 2000 between the three events.) 

In addition to the volunteers, there is another key ingredient to this race; the community. The community comes out in force. Sure the majority of volunteers are members of the community, but there were an awful lot of people supporting the race that were not wearing the signature "You Run mountains ... I Help" t-shirt. The Roanoke community peppered the race throughout the 26.2 miles along with the volunteers.

Volunteers and community combined, they provided well over 21 aid stations - both official and unofficial ones. They set up scaffolding made up of ladders and hoses creating "misting" and "rain" stations. They played music, sang, and danced us through the miles. They shot pictures for us, provided loads of goodies, held our fuel belt when we made a "pit stop", and offered us words of encouragement. They handed out adult beverages, iced coffee, and ice cold soda. Oh, and who can forget the entertainment - both live (hello finish line festivities) and recorded / played along the course - our personal favorite being the delightful gentleman that played "First Call" on bugle. 

Of course, they also directed us along our journey especially when we were having problems determining our right from our left - "Stay left... no, your other left." 

This post would not be complete without also acknowledging the emergency services personnel that were on duty. The people that kept us safe, directed/stopped traffic, added to the encouragement, and offered to rent me their bicycle - I need to stash some cash in my sports bra. 

Finally, the organizers. The ones that had the ridiculous idea in the first place and the people that make the magic happen behind the scenes. I personally imagine it being a conversation over a few drinks - the adult kind - and that it started out as a joke, went on to be the crazy idea that no one will ever go for, and has grown into the successful race that it is. 

To everyone that makes this event possible, Thank you! 

Special thanks go to the following:

Photo courtesy of the Blue Ridge Marathon
  • The wonderful woman at Volunteer Check-in who ensured us that we would look AWESOME in our yellow volunteer shirts. She was right! 
  • Hope and  Jones Racing Company: You and your crew are total rock stars.

  • Greg and the Fleet Feet Noke water stop around mile 21. You were there where we needed someone the most.
  • Clay, my brother, who was there waiting for me at the finish and laughed at me for being so delirious and saying.."Hey, I know him."

  • The wonderful ladies that took the time to explain our right from our left so we headed to the finish line rather than back out on the course for a second lap.
  • The officer that offered to rent me his bike - again money goes in the sports bra.
  • The EMT that smiled and said "SURE THING" when I asked them at around mile two to meet me at the intersection of Jefferson Street and Bullitt in about five hours. 
  • Our bugle player on Mill Mountain that turned up again on Peakwood with a huge smile and a "HEY GIRLS!! REMEMBER ME?!!"
  • The awesome gals with the iced cold coffee towards the end of the race.
  • The awesome guys with the iced cold soda.
  • DUDE, Marsha, Chad, and the Marathon Maniacs for the conversation along the route.
  • Pizza Pasta Pit for having one hell of a gluten free menu.
  • Finally, thank you to Cindy for taking this ridiculous adventure with me. 

Run the Blue Ridge Marathon for the challenge, but come back for the people.

Love, Theresa

Disclosure:  This is a sponsored post.  As a race ambassador, Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon provided me with a free entry into the Marathon, along with my packet goodies.  Hotel accommodations, travel, and other expenses related to the race were paid by me and as always, the opinions are 100% my own.
4 comments on "The Blue Ridge Marathon - It Takes a Village...or at least a small town."
  1. Wow, just wow. I'm definitely intrigued, it sounds like a great race!

    1. Oh, you should so do it!!! It is so well supported and not a race you try to shoot for a time on but one that you just set out to experience and finish.

  2. This sounds like an amazing race! Congrats!

    1. Oh it totally is. Thank you.