If you’re a runner, the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke should be on your bucket list!

UPDATE: The 2020 Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon Race Weekend has been cancelled. Check out the video below and visit the Marathon website for more information.

The total elevation change of 7,430 feet proves why it’s “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” and you’ll get to experience the beauty of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains by running up, over, around, and down them! You will even get to run a portion of the race on the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway - America’s Favorite Drive!

Race Details

Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon
Date: Saturday, April 18
Start/End Point: Jefferson Street (beside Elmwood Park) in Downtown Roanoke
Time: Start at 7:35 a.m.
View the Course Map
Registration Link
Event Website

Blue Ridge Marathon Race Course Map

It’s a grueling challenge that will put you to the test, both mentally and physically, as previous runners can attest to:

"It's the joint-taxing, muscle-battering misery of its downhills—like the one I'm plunging down now—that is central to its claim of being toughest. I try to take it easy, but there's no way to soften the pounding." - Adam Voiland, Runner’s World

Looking for more information, here’s a description of the course from the official race website:

"The Blue Ridge Marathon course is not for the faint of heart. The course begins and ends in downtown Roanoke. In between, runners will enter the Blue Ridge Parkway, where they will make three significant climbs and descents.

The course begins easily with one mile of rolling hills, before taking its first turn upward as runners begin the 2-mile climb up Mill Mountain. At the top of the day’s initial climb, the race enters the Blue Ridge Parkway, where there are several lengthy and challenging hills over the next two-plus miles. Then runners will encounter the most beautiful but challenging portion of the course – the climb up Roanoke Mountain."

Blue Ridge Marathon Race Spectators

However, it’s not all about running. The Blue Ridge Marathon also has a reputation of being one of the most fun and friendly races that participants have ever experienced, with a festive atmosphere throughout the course that includes cheering, live music, and even mountaintop mimosas! It’s a community event that showcases the best of what Roanoke has to offer.

“It’s the most beautiful, most supportive, and friendliest race I’ve ever run. Add it to your bucket list.” - Gina DeMillo Wagner, Blue Ridge Outdoors 

Down by Downtown Music Festival - Roanoke

Marathon weekend every year in Roanoke coincides with the Down by Downtown Music Festival, a three-day celebration of live music and concerts at various venues and bars throughout Downtown Roanoke, including a headliner concert (see who's headlining this year's festival) on Saturday night in Elmwood Park - the same location as the start & end point for the marathon. There's also a welcome party for runners on Friday night that includes great live music.

> Down by Downtown Music Festival Website

As the Blue Ridge Marathon has grown over its 10 year history, there are now a variety of race options for runners of all skill levels, including:

With so many distances, there are running & walking opportunities for everyone in the entire family! Register >

Blue Ridge Marathon Racers

The scene in Elmwood Park also offers a family-friendly atmosphere that serves as a marathon party for both racers and spectators, with live music, a beer garden, food vendors, and a special Fleet Feet Recovery Zone.

> See the Full Weekend Schedule

This is one of the best weekends of the year to plan your visit to Virginia’s Blue Ridge! Register now for the race and check this iconic event off your bucket list!

All images courtesy of Roanoke Outside.