Saturday April 18, 2015. Sunny 60 to start, 80 at the finish.
It was my third Blue Ridge Marathon. The first year I won entry, for it to be my 2nd marathon ever, then last year we had to go back so Josh could run the full. This year I was part of the blogger program.
We arrived late Thursday evening, another road trip, who likes to fly? Checked into Hotel Roanoke (which was walking distance to all activities), claimed our hot chocolate chip cookies, and rested up for the festivities.
Bright & early Friday morning we met up with a small group for the shake -out run. We got to meet up John, and snapped a picture with Dick Beardsley. He told us about a marathon in Mason City he ran once, of course we had never heard of it. It was a sunny morning as we jogged along the greenway.
The expo & packet-pick up wouldn’t start until 3pm. We (Josh, Tereasa, Laura and I) had time to explore the city, so we shopped around. We met up with BRM double rockstars Amy & Emir for lunch. Yes they were going to run the marathon twice!
We managed to waste enough time until the expo opened, or close enough. The packet pickup was held in a tent outside the City Market building. There was a line for each race event, full, half, 10k. Shirts were to be picked up on the 2nd level inside the City Market where the actual expo was happening. Lots of free samples, stickers, also race merchandise for sale. Foot levelers was measuring feet in the center of the room. Also on the 2nd level was Fleet Feet Sports Roanoke.
We then took the remainder of the afternoon to check out the Mill Mountain star.
We skipped the pasta dinner this year. Dick Beardsley & Pam Rickards were to be the guest speakers. Tickets were $25.
Tereasa, Josh, Laura and I met up with David and his sister Heater for dinner. Josh did some googling and discovered a place with Italian cuisine. It was a small place, but the food was good and the prices were right. After all the carbs we called it a night.
Race day! Last year we were disappointed to find out there were no coffee shops open early, so this year with our bagels and peanut butter we brewed coffee in the hotel. The race did have coffee at the start and a shop was open early, love this change!
Just before the race we meet up with the others and cheered the “warm up lap” runners across the starting line. This course is tough, but there is a small group that runs the full marathon course twice, waking up at 2:00 am. (Wait, shhh, I didn’t know anything about this ) Our group disbands, with “good lucks” all around, we proceed to our corrals. Which are based on the honor system, line up according to pace. I just went to the back, with this course it’s important to start slow. The singing of the National Anthem was performed and the gun went off.
Josh, Laura, Amy, Emir and I were running the full. David, John, and Heather were running the half. Tereasa was tackling her 2nd 10k. All three races started at the same time.
Full Marathon Course: This race is tagged “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” It definitely lives up to that name. This is the 6th year of the race, and I am happy to say, no more elevation was added from the previous year. The start of this race takes you up Mill Mountain, on the paved asphalt road. The half and 10k split at the turn for the top of Mill Mountain. The full continues to do a loop up and down Roanoke Mountain, the steepest climbs of the race. However the view from this peak was spectacular, bananas, oranges, water, gummi bears, pretzels & a purple sports drink. (I was told it was Gatorade, but it was Gu Brew)
We were running the Blue Ridge Parkway. There were port-o-potties and a few spectators on this section of the course. However all the volunteers, law enforcement personal, & other runners were excellent support. At this time the temperature and some humidity had started to climb.
When the full course joined back up with the peak of Mill Mountain, we were greeted with another fuel stop, complete with a vuvuzueula & a spectacular view of Roanoke. At about the midway point of the way down a lady was serving “Moo-mosas” I recalled her from the prior year, always something to look forward to.
After accomplishing 2 peaks, there is still one more to go. Taking a tour through parts of the city, where there were more enthusiastic spectators, & a portion of the greenway, we ascend Peakwood. Oh Peakwood…it’s not the steepest, but at mile 17 your legs are tired! This climb has many housing developments, which brings out some fun spectators. Spectators who cheer, but also think they are helping by informing you of a flat section, or you’re almost to the top.
Once I had snaked through the neighborhood, eating some more bananas and gummi bears, I had made it to the party on Peakwood. They had tents set up with food, beer & champagne. After taking my time, grabbing a swallow of Fat Tire, a picture with the donuts, some twizzlers and a cookie, I noticed the “no alcohol past this point” sign, and was on my way.
This is where I like to use the phrase “Pain of Peakwood” the down hill is no joke, your quads are on fire, and you have no control. When I passed mile marker 20, I took a photo & let my friends know where I was, as I try to keep the phone on airplane mode to not use the battery. Also I am not sure race tracking was available this year.
I continued on, I was just being smart, it was hot, and the last 6 miles were tough,no shade, mentally you are thinking you are done with the mountains, but there is at least one more hill. I hit all the water stops and carried on.
I ran the race with Laura, we were hot, tired, & sunburnt. We walked until the last corner, you know when people could see us, then we ran. (shhh we ran the whole thing) We ran through the finishers chute, got a hand shake from the race director, were handed our medal, got a high five from Amy & Emir (yes we were beat by the doublers) and went to find shade.
I proceed to walk the chute and to the food tent. There were pizza, oranges, bananas, bagels, water, pop & chocolate milk. There were also food trucks with food to buy, and craft beer tapper trucks, where you could redeem your free beer. This was in the amphitheater section. The area where they would have music all day. This area was to close at 3 pm, at 2:45 we were told to leave for a sound check. I still had beer to finish. People were still running, no free beer for them. This needs to be changed.
The amphitheater was where the awards were presented. There could have been more shade. We sat in the grass and met with some others before we were kicked out.
After the race, we all rested up. Laura and I went to the hotel bar for a celebratory drink. We then met up for dinner with John.
There was a concert going on put on by the race, Big Head Todd and the Monsters, Runners could buy discounted tickets, (or if you registered late, it was free) but we passed. We retired to our hotel rooms and got things together for an early departure.
Last year I said I wasn’t sure if I would run this race again. I am at that place, I am ready for something new. I was considering the double this year, but wasn’t ready. Next year? who knows. However the people of Roanoke, and meeting up with other runners is what have us coming back.
I ran with my Go Pro – video here