The organizers of the Blue Ridge Marathon have announced some changes to the 2014 race.
The April 26 race will feature a 10K option, to go along with the full and half marathons.
Additionally, the full marathon route has been changed between miles 21 and 25. Officials say that part of the race is along the Roanoke River Greenway, which is prone to flooding. Flooding has caused marathon organizers to change the route late in the planning process.
The half marathon route also has been altered to include a climb up Peakwood. This change adds a second major climb to the course.
Here is the full news release:
Runners in the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and Half Marathon will see changes in their respective courses this year, while organizers have added the option of a 10K run called, “The Star K.”
The 26.2 mile Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, America’s Toughest Road MarathonTM will see a few changes to the course this year. Organizers have replaced a portion of the course that travels along the Roanoke River Greenway because of repeated flooding. “Two years out of four, we have had to alter the course at the last minute,” said Pete Eshelman, Chair of the Marathon committee.
Last minute changes are difficult on runners, volunteers, police and anyone associated with race logistics,” he said. In order to eliminate the problems, miles 21-25 have been re-routed to avoid the sections of the Roanoke River Greenway prone to flooding. The course will now take runners through Old Southwest, across Main Street Bridge, through Wasena and Vic Thomas Parks, across Memorial Bridge, through Wasena neighborhood, and across Main Street Bridge a second time before heading downtown to the finish in Elmwood Park.
Meanwhile organizers have made significant changes to the Half Marathon in order to give 13.1-milers similar bragging rights to those who run the full marathon. “It was too easy,” said Race Director Ronny Angell. “So we added a second major climb.” For the first four years of the event, runners in the half marathon ran up Mill Mountain, but once they descended back into the valley the real climbing was over. Beginning this year they will face the prospect of running up Peakwood, which is also a part of the full marathon course. The change not only adds a second climb to the half marathon course, but also a total elevation change of more than 3600’. New this year is a 10K run organizers will call the Star K. Also a difficult course, runners will travel 6.2 miles from the start to the Roanoke Star atop Mill Mountain and back to the race finish. “We now offer three running opportunities,” said Eshelman. “It didn’t make sense to offer the most difficult marathon in the country without giving the same consideration to the other events.”
Though difficult, the Star K allows a large number of runners to participate in the day’s activities, even if they are not ready for the longer events. The event will replace the marathon relay which has presented significant logistical issues. “The idea behind the relay is pretty much the same as the Star K,” said Angel. “Each runner only had to cover five or six miles. That’s still the case with the Star K and they should still feel a great sense of accomplishment.” And if a team experience is what runners seek, they can form a Star K Team which allows friends and family to run together.
Organizers have also moved the finish line for all events, so participants will complete their runs closer to the newly refurbished Elmwood Park. The move provides badly needed additional space for refreshments, entertainment and family activities. An evening concert in Elmwood Park is also planned.
The 2014 Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, Half Marathon and Star K will be held on Saturday, April 26 beginning at 7:30am. Maps of the courses and registration information are available at blueridgemarathon.com.