Former basketball star ready to run first Blue Ridge Marathon

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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7) It's not easy training for the Foot Levelers' Blue Ridge Marathon, especially for a first-timer.

Roanoke native and current Foot Levelers employee, Abby Oliver, is running in her First Blue Ridge Marathon.

"I've never run a full marathon before," said Oliver. "I'm excited about it, but nervous at the same time. I'm nervous because the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon is known as the toughest road marathon in the country. So I know it's going to be physically taxing, and very tiring."

But Abby Oliver has plenty of experience pushing herself to success. The former basketball star helped lead Hidden Valley to back-to-back state championships in 2007 and 2008. She then went onto a decorated four-year career at the University of Richmond, becoming the 7th-leading scorer in the program's history, before playing one season professionally overseas in Israel.

"Basketball was a huge part of my life," said Oliver. "From the age of five, I kept playing until about 22 years old. Once I had stopped playing basketball, there was a big void in my life. So I've gotten into running, which has really helped fill that void."

And Abby says she thinks her work ethic on the court has carried over to her marathon training.

Oliver explained, "I was very disciplined with basketball, practicing every day, early mornings, getting up, just trying to improve myself as a player. I don't know if the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon will be tougher than that, but I know basketball has definitely prepared me, and made me pretty tough-minded for this race."

It certainly takes a tough mind to make it up the steep climbs of America's Toughest Road Marathon, something Oliver has been preparing for.

"Being here in Roanoke, it allows me to run the mountains that are on the course. So I've trained every week on the mountains, Mill Mountain, Roanoke Mountain, and Peakwood. So that has really allowed my body to know what to expect."

Oliver has been training hard on a daily basis for nearly five months, progressively increasing her mileage along the way.

"Just the fact that I've made it this far, even before race day, I'm proud of myself, because it is a lot of work to do," said Oliver. "It's those 20 mile runs that people don't really know about, so when race day comes, I'm just going to be extremely happy to be at that starting line."

Oliver has already run hundreds of miles just to get to that starting line, and only she's only got 26.2 more to go.