I don’t usually buy newspapers anymore due to the fact you can read many of them online. However I saw this on the front page of the Roanoke Times this morning and had to get a copy. The new Marathon will take place on April 24th 2010. I would love for some of the Youth in Carroll County, especially those associated with Out Of The Box to run this one with me. Youth Leaders and adults as well associated with First United Methodist Church Hillsville. While I am at it maybe we can get a group of Pastor’s in the Holston Conference to run this one. How about a group from the New Mt. Airy Road Runners? The Carroll Wellness Center Running Group?
Who will run with me? We can start holding each other accountable in training! This event is on my calendar.
New marathon rising in Roanoke
The 26.2-mile race will cover 16 miles of mountains.
By Jenny Kincaid Boone
Ronny Angell, owner of Odyssey Adventure Racing in Salem, is race director for the Blue Ridge Marathon on the Parkway.
The Blue Ridge Marathon on the Parkway will begin and end in downtown Roanoke and cover portions of Roanoke and Mill mountains.
Rep. Bob Goodlatte speaks Wednesday during a ceremony announcing the Blue Ridge Marathon on the Parkway. The event, which is planned for April 24, will also include a half marathon race.
The last time marathoners flocked to the Roanoke Valley for a 26.2-mile race was in 1983. But marathons and the festivities associated with them have been growing throughout the country in cities large and small, pumping significant tourism dollars into some communities.
The Roanoke Valley is banking on this success as it markets the outdoors to a population of runners whose sport is named the No. 1 outdoor recreation activity in the country by the Outdoor Industry Association.
Organizers, along with U.S. Rep. Bob Goodlatte, announced Wednesday the coming of a new marathon, coined the Blue Ridge Marathon on the Parkway.
Set for April 24, 2010, its route will cover a portion of the Blue Ridge Parkway and sections of Roanoke, with approximately 16 miles of mountain climbing and 10 miles of city roadways.
“We wanted to be a marathon that would stick out from other marathons in the country,” said John Carlin, a local runner who is co-chairman of the committee organizing the race. “This will be something that people will brag about, upon completing it.”
A group of six to seven people, including local economic development officials, runners and business professionals, are carving out the details of this race that they hope will draw people from across the country, boost tourism dollars and stand out as one of the toughest marathon courses around. The marathon coincides with the parkway’s 75th anniversary.
They’re still seeking sponsors for the running event, which they estimate will cost between $25,000 to $50,000. Proceeds will benefit the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a nonprofit with a focus on preserving the parkway.
The early registration entry fee is $80 per person for the marathon. It climbs to $90 by March 15 and $100 by April 22.
A half marathon also will be held at the same time as the marathon.
The 26.2-mile course will start at the Taubman Museum of Art in downtown Roanoke, wind up Mill Mountain and onto the parkway. Runners will climb to the top of Roanoke Mountain, cut back down to the Mill Mountain Star and go through parts of downtown Roanoke. The finish line will be in front of the Hotel Roanoke & Conference Center.
Ronny Angell, owner of Odyssey Adventure Racing in Salem, is the race director.
“It’s like running through a postcard that is Roanoke,” said Carlin, who also is senior vice president at Access, an advertising and public relations firm in Roanoke. Access designed the marathon’s logo.
Using the parkway for a portion of the marathon’s path wasn’t an easy feat. The course cannot cover a large part of the parkway, because that would require closing it, said Steve Stinnett, chief ranger for the Blue Ridge Parkway.
Instead, marathoners will cross the parkway only twice to get to and from the Roanoke Mountain loop. They will run on the spur road, after climbing Mill Mountain, but that’s not considered a core portion of the parkway, Stinnett said.
Traffic will be stopped as necessary when marathoners cross the parkway, organizers said.
They are in the process of obtaining a permit to use the parkway for the race.
Organizers hope to attract 500 to 1,000 runners in the marathon’s first year. Eventually, they’d like to have 3,000 to 5,000.
But even a small group of runners can have a substantial impact on local tourism revenue.
An economic study conducted for the first running of the Mount Rushmore Marathon reported that the race generated $1.6 million for the local economy, with 1,000 runners, said Pete Eshelman, who is director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and co-chairman of the marathon committee with Carlin.
Also, in the United States, the typical female long distance runner earned $50,000 or more in 2006, while the typical male long distance runner made $75,000 or more, according to Running USA.
“They spend their money when they travel,” Eshelman said.
Marathons increasingly are destination spots, where runners often come for a weekend, stay in hotels and dine at restaurants. Marathons have grown in number and participants over the past 20 years, with approximately 400 marathons held in 2007 and 412,000 finishers, according to Running USA.
The events that take place surrounding the marathon also are important.
“A lot of the most successful events turn into a running festival weekend, where it’s not just the marathon,” said David Watt, executive director of the American Running Association, adding that organizers may schedule a children’s race the day before.
The recession hasn’t canceled major marathons, but it has affected some marathon travel, Watt said.
For example, there were more runners at this year’s Charlottesville Marathon in April than in 2008, though they did not travel from as many distant locations, said Russell Gill, whose company, Bad to the Bone Endurance Sports, directs the marathon.
Still, participation has increased each year since the Charlottesville Marathon’s first running in 2003, when it had 300 marathoners. There were 800 to 900 participants this year.