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Blue Ridge Marathon kicks off tourism season in Roanoke

Published: Apr. 21, 2021 at 4:40 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Race weekend at the Blue Ridge Marathon brought more than 2,000 runners from 40 states and five countries to Roanoke.

“I don’t think we could have asked for a better weekend,” said Pete Eshelman, the director of Roanoke Outside, which puts on the marathon.

After a year of cancellations and quarantine, local businesses are hopeful this past weekend’s race will be the spark that kicks off a big tourism revival.

“The success of the Blue Ridge Marathon did prove and show that we’re ready, as a region, to open up and welcome people back, and we can do it in a safe manner,” said Neil Ordway, the general manager of Roanoke’s Spring Hill Suites.

Ordway says his hotel was fully booked over the weekend and they expect more weekends like that in the near future.

That’s due to upcoming events like graduations and June’s Iron Man race.

Organizers of the Blue Ridge Marathon are now working to help the Iron Man team get their race off without a hitch.

“That’s why we were really strict with how we did it because we wanted other events to be able to happen. We didn’t want to put on a less-than-stellar event that would cause other events to not be able to happen,” said Eshelman.

Between the lakes, trails, and all of our region’s outdoor activities, Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge anticipates an influx in visitors looking for safe vacation options this summer.

“People may not be going to Europe or going on a cruise, this may be a great alternative to them, and I think we’re going to see a great summer season,” said VBR’s president, Landon Howard.

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