Jeff Powers blew past the entire field Saturday to win the Blue Ridge Marathon for the second straight year.
On a beautiful morning, Powers finished “America’s toughest marathon” in 2 hours, 52 minutes and 24 seconds. That was more than 20 minutes faster than Lorraine Young, who was the top female finisher and placed second overall.
Powers won the 2013 race in 2:39:48. This time, the course was even more difficult.
"I think the humidity over the last few miles got pretty bad. And I think since they moved the start-finish area closer to the inclines, the small bit of flat course that existed last year wasn't in it this year,” Powers said.
Young conquered the 7,500 feet in elevation change in 3:13:46.
"I expected it to be difficult. I knew that going into it,” Young said. “You know I sometimes have a time goal but I really didn't know what to expect because I've never really run one with this elevation change. I've run Umstead Marathon which the elevation change is 4,000 feet but this is almost double that. It was better than I thought it would be, ironically enough, but it still hurt needless to say."
The next runner in the full to cross the finish-line was actually another female -- Roanoke's Sarah Glenn (3:16:18). She holds the course record in the half, which she won last year. This year she was the third overall finisher in the full.
“I got to train on the course. There's nothing like knowing Peakwood," Glenn said.
Todd Bibb (1:27:42) won the half marathon. He lives in Virginia Beach but is originally from Roanoke.
“It was a tough course. It was probably the hardest race I’ve ever ran in my life," Bibb said.
Mina Demarco of Blacksburg (1:31:41) was the top women's finisher in the half marathon.
“It was awesome. I was really surprised. I just tried to run with a group of guys and they pushed me. It was great fun," Demarco said.
The Star 10K was a new addition to the event this year. Nick Whited was the inaugural winner. Lynda Gingras (45:09) was the first woman to cross.
Whited, who is from Bluefield, injured his Achilles tendon two weeks ago and had to switch from the full marathon to the 10K.
“It was harder than I anticipated because in the marathon you just are in one gear going -- up and down the climbs and descents -- but with the 10k it’s so short you’re pushing very, very hard and that’s just a different feeling for this course,” Whited said.
FULL MARATHON TOP FINISHERS
1. Jeff Powers 2:52:24.
2. Jake Edmiston 3:18:07
3. Andrew Nichols 3:18:08
1. Lorraine Young 3:13:46
2. Sarah Glenn 3:16:18
3. Margaret Smith 3:32:00