Blue Ridge Marathon canceled in wake of coronavirus spread

(Photo: Josiah Mackenzie / CC BY 2.0 / License Link)
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ7)-- UPDATE: The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon Race Weekend has been canceled for 2020.

Race organizers cite CDC recommendations for “mass gatherings or large events” that include the cancellation of events with more than 50 people for the next eight weeks.

The event is the primary revenue generator for the Roanoke Outside Foundation.

According to a statement from event organizers, "As a homegrown event that shares revenue with 15 nonprofits, we are not sure we can weather a scenario in which every runner defers until next year. Our appeal to you is to “run virtually” or “donate” in support of our small boutique race."

No refunds will be issued, according to terms agreed to upon registration, but the statement indicates there are options:

Donate Your Entry and Feel Good About It: You can do nothing. We will mail you a receipt noting your tax-deductible donation to the Roanoke Outside Foundation, and you get to know that you’re helping keep a small race going into the future. If you opt for the “virtual run” or defer you will not receive a donation receipt.

Run Virtually: You’ve trained for this race so, for this year only, we will offer a “virtual race” category that allows you to run at your convenience. We hope to still have some festivities associated with the virtual race, including both a physical and virtual finish line. You have until April 13 to switch to the “virtual race” and May 4 to complete your run — to switch, click here and select “Purchase Merchandise.” Virtual race details can be found here.

Defer to April 17, 2021: Defer your race entry to 2021 by April 2 – to defer, click here and select “Change Event.”

You have until:

April 2 to defer your entry to April 17, 2021
April 13 to switch to the “virtual race”
Do nothing and your entry fee will be donated

The Freedom First Down by Downtown music festival, which coincides with race weekend, has also been canceled. There will be no concerts at Elmwood Park Friday, April 17 and Saturday, April 18.

ORIGINAL STORY: The Blue Ridge Marathon is still a go for this year, though race officials are monitoring the situation with spreading coronavirus, which has led to closures of many large sports and entertainment events.

Race officials say they have met with Roanoke officials, emergency services personnel and public health organizations to ensure open communication and agreement with partner agencies about the status of the race.

The Blue Ridge Marathon, according to an event release, is the Roanoke Outside Foundation’s largest fundraiser and generates thousands of dollars for nonprofit partners. This race, the statement says, "or any race like this, has hundreds of thousands of dollars in expenses incurred well before the start of the race; expenses that can’t carry over to a future date and that we lose. As a homegrown event that shares revenue with 15 nonprofits, we are not sure if we can weather a scenario in which every runner defers until next year.

"We want you to continue to meet the challenge of completing America’s Toughest Road Marathon," the statement continues. "Your situation might be as unique as the experience of running our marathon. So, you have four options to help feel secure in your decision to run:"

1. Run with Us on April 18: As of now, all our events are on as scheduled. (You can find a copy of our race day precautions below and the https://www.blueridgemarathon.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Blue-Ridge-Marathon-Waiver.pdf.).

2. Run Virtually: You’ve trained for this race so, for this year only, we will offer a “virtual race” category that allows you to run at your convenience. We will mail your race shirt and medal at no cost. You can switch now, or wait to see how things unfold. You have until April 13 to switch to the “virtual race” — to switch, click here and select “Purchase Merchandise.”

3. Defer to 2021: Defer your race entry to 2021 by April 2 - to defer click here and select “Change Event.”

4. Donate Your Entry and Feel Good About It: You can do nothing. We will mail you a receipt noting your tax-deductible donation to the Roanoke Outside Foundation, and you get to know that you’re helping keep a small race going into the future. If you opt for the “virtual run” or defer you will not receive a donation receipt.

REMEMBER: If the race is canceled you have until: • April 2 to defer your entry to 2021 • April 13 to switch to the “virtual race” • Do nothing and your entry fee will be donated We are committed to an event that is conducted safely and we will continue to evaluate day-to-day operations to ensure the safety of all runners, volunteers, workers, and spectators. Thank you for your support of the Blue Ridge Marathon and your understanding as we respond to this developing situation.

As further updates are available they will be posted here.

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