Runner travels all the way from New Zealand for Blue Ridge Marathon

ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) Runners from around the world are coming to Roanoke April 13 for the Blue Ridge Marathon.

"We're super excited! It's the 10th anniversary," Pete Eshelman, the director of the Roanoke Outside Foundation, said. "You know it's hard to believe that."

Eshelman said the race has consistently grown over the past 10 years.
Not only has it added more runners, but there's also more activities to do over the weekend.

"This year we've add the world's slowest 5K race," he said. "We've added the Down by Downtown Music Festival over the years."

This year, the music starts Friday night in Elmwood Park at 5 p.m.

"So it's kind of like a community concert, but it's also a welcome party for runners that are coming from out of town."

Eshelman said one of the best parts about this race is the southern hospitality the Roanoke community shows these runners.

"We have runners coming from all over the world," he said. "And for them to be able to come here and be able to get high fives from the community and be able to talk with them, it kind of creates this great atmosphere. And then they go back to where they came from and they talk about how awesome of a community we are."

Over the years, 14,000 runners have crossed the finish line from 46 states and 23 countries.

Peter Frew from New Zealand is a runner who hopes to join those ranks.

"I've done a lot of local marathons," Frew said. "And I've done Boston a few years ago. And yeah, I've just done a lot of marathons over the years."

He's been running marathons for 10 years, but this is his first time running the Blue Ridge Marathon.

WDBJ7 asked him what he'd heard about America's Toughest Road Marathon and he said, "lots of hills."

One of those hills is called Peakwood. Runners will hit this third, giant hill right around the 17-mile mark of the race. It's this hill that's been given a colorful name by the locals: Pukewood.

"Awesome," Frew smiled.

And when asked how that made him feel, Peter laughed.

"We'll deal with that when we get to it."

Peter is confident he won't actually throw up during the race, but it's because of that level of difficulty that has put this race on the map.

"That's been our goal: create this bucket list boutique marathon that was unique because of the challenge of it," Eshleman said.

A challenge that's more than a competition.

"Our philosophy over the years has been complete versus compete," Eshleman added. "We want runners to have fun out there, connect with the other runners that are around, meet with them, and interact with them."

And that's exactly what Frew plans to do.

"We're here to Sunday so we're going to enjoy the local scenery and local events," he said.

From everyone at WDBJ7, welcome to Roanoke, Peter Frew!

For more information about the Blue Ridge Marathon, click here. There will also be several road closures and detours throughout the race so plan your Saturday morning commute accordingly. The race starts at 7:35 a.m.