Last Saturday, the Blue Ridge Marathon happened in Roanoke (along with a half marathon and 10K). This race has more than 7,400 feet of elevation change and the series is billed as the toughest road races in America. Even in my brief but fervent running days, I never dared to attempt it!
Back in January, Roanoke Parks and Recreation offered a 100-miles-in-100-days program, where you could sign up to walk an average of one mile per day for a couple of months. Much more my speed! Even better, taking part in the program gave you free registration in the Blue Ridge Marathon Sunday Slow-K, an intentionally relaxed 5K scheduled for the day after the longer races. Now we’re talking.
The Saturday races were beset with really horrendous, scary thunderstorms, but Sunday dawned crisp and clear. I made my way into town, easily nabbed a parking spot, and made it over to the starting line in time to watch the pre-race goat yoga.
One of the awesome things about this race was that each participant received a mug full of coffee from Roasters Next Door or Sweet Donkey, two delightful Roanoke coffeeshops. Oh, and a Krispy Kreme donut.
There were a host of vendors, too. I visited with the Radford University Ceramics Guild, where I bought another mug, and the Self Love ladies, who create natural beauty products over in Rocky Mount. I enjoyed my donut. I passed on the mimosas. I complemented people on their dogs. It was a great morning, even before the race started!
Shortly after 9, the race director kicked off the race with a ceremonial donut bite, and everyone moseyed out along the Roanoke Greenway.
There was a prize for the last finisher, so everyone was pretty intentional about their relaxed pace. I jogged a little, but mostly walked because I was carrying my bag of two mugs and the pineapple-scented body butter I picked up from the Self Love ladies.
Along the way I got to chat with the guy fishing in the Roanoke River, and to admire the folks who were out collecting litter along the path (some of them in waders so they could pick up stuff along the river line). Unlike the routes for the other BRM races, this one was relatively flat and it made for a pleasant stroll. And gave me a lovely morning for planning the group I want to gather to do this next year.