Economic Impact Analysis of Blue Ridge Marathon

On April 24, 2010, the Roanoke Region welcomed 942 runners who participated in the National College Blue Ridge Marathon and Half Marathon. Organized by a consortium of public and private entities, including the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Congressman Bob Goodlatte and Odyssey Adventure Racing, the Blue Ridge Marathon was the first event of its kind for the Roanoke Region.

Efforts to organize the Blue Ridge Marathon began in February 2009, when representatives of the John Carlin Agency, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, Odyssey Racing, and Congressman Goodlatte’s office met at an event held in the Taubman Museum of Art. The idea that a marathon might be held on the
Blue Ridge Parkway in conjunction with the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary Celebration was conceived. Six Congressmen petitioned the National Park Service to approve a special use permit allowing the marathon organizers to utilize portions of the Parkway for the event. The permit was approved by August 2009 and marketing of the marathon began.

The event was sponsored by National College, Carilion Clinic, Valley Bank, Fink’s Jewelers,, the Roanoke Regional Partnership, the Taubman Museum of Art, the John Carlin Agency, City of Roanoke Parks and Recreation, Odyssey Adventure Racing, Texas Tavern, the Roanoker Magazine, GEM Car, and Dominion of Bedford. The race benefitted the Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, a nonprofit and volunteer organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Billed as America’s Toughest Road Marathon, the race course started and ended at the Taubman Museum of Art and went from the low elevations of downtown Roanoke and the Roanoke River to the higher elevations at the top of Mill Mountain and Roanoke Mountain along sections of the Blue Ridge
Parkway for a total elevation change of 6,140 feet.

Race organizers knew it would be of vital importance to gauge the economic impact of the race event. Such information would be instrumental in helping the community to understand the impacts such events bring to the community and to build support for future marathons in the Roanoke Valley region of Virginia. Organizers contacted the staff of the Roanoke Valley – Alleghany Regional Commission prior to the execution of the race event to design a study methodology.

Click here to access to full economic impact analysis of the Blue Ridge Marathon.

Email pete(at) with any questions.

$20,000 presented to FRIENDS of BLUE RIDGE PARKWAY

Blue Ridge Marathon Presents $20,000 to FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway
Money to be used for Parkway beautification and education.

Blue Ridge Marathon Check Presentation

Roanoke, Va. (May 25, 2010) – Organizers of the Blue Ridge Marathon today presented $20,000 to FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway, which will use the funding to further its mission to preserve, promote and enhance the scenic highway.  FRIENDS of the Blue Ridge Parkway was the designated beneficiary of the Blue Ridge Marathon.  The signature ascents on the 26.2-mile course took place on the Parkway, which is celebrating its 75th Anniversary in 2010.

Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership, and co-chair of the marathon, praised the National Park Service for permitting access to the scenic highway.  He attributed the event’s financial success to community support and sponsors who signed on early.  “National College, Carilion Clinic, Valley Bank, Finks Jewelers and Roanoke Parks and Recreation believed in this idea and supported this great community event almost from the beginning.  Their support enabled us to properly market the marathon as a destination attraction.”  Eshelman noted that the marathon and half-marathon drew 942 (more than 1,000 registered) runners from 34 states and London, England.

“The Blue Ridge Marathon has accomplished an incredibly successful outdoor brand for the Roanoke Valley,” said FRIENDS Executive Director Susan J. Mills, Ph.D. “FRIENDS was honored to assist with the volunteer efforts through our network of chapters providing 100 of the 300 volunteers and also, additional first aid stations through the support of a board member. This event was a team effort with tremendous community support!” she said.  Mills further explained that, “100-percent of this donation will be used to provide funding for events along the Blue Ridge Parkway.”  She said Parkway outdoor programs such as the Roanoke Campground Music Program, Peaks of Otter and Mabry Mill programs, which could not be funded by local chapters, would now be funded.  Mills said the money is even more welcome at a time, “when the economy makes fundraising particularly challenging.”

Though he could not be present for the check presentation, Honorary Race Chair, Rep. Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke thanked organizers for their efforts and said he hoped the Marathon “…Would continue to grow and make contributions to the quality of life in the Valley in so many ways.”

Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Phil Francis, also on hand for the check presentation, said he was pleased the community had found a new way to connect with the Parkway.  “Groups like FRIENDS are integral to the long-term success of the Parkway,” he said.  “Not only did the marathon help draw national attention to our 75th Anniversary, it was another way to show the world what a beautiful attraction we have running along the crest of the Blue Ridge.”  Francis noted that the funding was like “found money” and would make FRIENDS’ impact even greater.

National College President and CEO Frank Longaker was one of the first to support the event financially when National College signed on to be the event’s title sponsor. “We saw the potential for a marathon in the Roanoke Valley,” said Longaker, an avid endurance event participant and finisher of the event’s 13.1 mile half marathon.  The beauty and difficulty of the Roanoke course will attract people from all over the country and beyond.  This event is only going to grow.”

The run is touted as one of the most difficult on-road marathons in America.  The course was designed to connect the Parkway with downtown Roanoke, while showcasing some of the Roanoke Valley’s key attractions, including the greenway system.  Plans for next year include more mileage on the greenway with the completion of the low water bridge in Wasena Park.  Organizers are also eyeing one more addition – another significant hill.

“The runners tell us they loved this course despite the difficulty,” said Race Director Ronny Angell, citing early survey responses from participants that show a 99-percent approval rating.  “We want to be sure we have bragging rights as the toughest race there is, so we’re looking at our options,” Angell said.

The event had an overall impact of $354,202 on the region’s economy in terms of increased sales activity resulting directly from visitation and from these expenditures rippling across the regional economy.

While organizers are still working on plans for next year’s event, they said the date had been set for April 16, 2011.

THANK YOU & Race Results!

A HUGE Thank you to all the runners, volunteers, and spectators who made the inaugural National College Blue Ridge Marathon a smashing success!  We’ll post more soon (we need some rest)!  Click here for race results!

“Race Across The Sky” movie as part of expo

RaceAcrossTheSkyLeadvilleTrail100  movie

The Blue Ridge Marathon is excited to show the critically acclaimed “Race Across the Sky” as part of its Runners Expo. “Race Across The Sky” documents several riders, including Lance Armstrong, as they compete in one of the world’s toughest mountain bike endurance races.

Join us April 23 for this one-time viewing experience!buy ticket now logo

Where: Mill Mountain Theatre (located within Center In The Square)
When: April 23
Time: 6:10pm
Cost: $10 plus tax (purchase online)

At 10,000+ feet, against the misty backdrop of a former mining town, Leadville, Colorado, 1228 cyclists line the starting line. For many, it will be the most difficult race of their lives. For some, a bragging right to say they raced alongside the best in the world. Some imagine victory. Most hope only to finish. But everyone will count.

The race that started 25 years ago as a running race to drive tourism in Leadville has now grown to a lottery cap of 1000+ competitors, many of them the world’s most elite cyclists. But the Leadville Trail 100 “Race Across the Sky” Mountain Bike Race is not just a race of man against man:  it’s man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. elements, man vs. time. A clock set for 12 grueling hour’s slugs through 100 miles, over 14,000 vertical feet of climbing, some two miles above sea level, through extreme climate changes ranging from heat to hail, from rain to snow.  To the racers, the risks of injury, fatigue and mechanical failure pale next to the chance that they will fall behind the 12 hour cut off mark and be eliminated.

Rivalries include six-time defending champion Dave Wiens vs. international star / seven-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong.  Inspirational stories of human triumph include a Leadville woman rider who was critically injured by a car while training for last year’s race, another who suffers from multiple sclerosis, and 45+ rider who has raced all 15 years.

Whether they’re international stars of the sport or everyday folks with the will to finish a race whose difficulty is on par with the Ironman, the grit to push to their own physical and emotional limits strikes an elegant symmetry between racer and environment and a struggling former mining town whose very existence now relies on the tourism generated by this race.

Learn more about the Leadville Trail 100 race.

40 National College Employees, including one Salem resident, to participate in the National College Blue Ridge Marathon

We found this on the SO Salem blog – thanks!

National College will have a large presence in the National College Blue Ridge Marathon on the Parkway with 40 employees from Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, and Virginia participating in the event. In addition to signing on as the title sponsor for the event, the College agreed to pay the entry fees ($80 – $100) for employees participating in the event.

Salem resident Jodie Terry is the Director of Repayment Success and he is participating on a relay team with four of his co-workers. The College has about 40 total employees participating in either the half marathon, full marathon, or a marathon relay

“Any great challenge-whether running a marathon or pursuing a college education-takes concerted effort and dedication in order to accomplish a goal,” said National College President Frank Longaker. “That’s what makes our involvement with the Blue Ridge Marathon a great fit.”

The College plans to be very involved during the event with participants, cheerleaders, and volunteers. As many as 20 students in the emergency medical technology and paramedic programs will provide medical support at the rest stops along the route.

Students in the emergency medical technology programs will not only be of great service to marathon participants on the day of the event; they will also get valuable hands-on experience as they apply what they learned in the classroom. National’s two emergency medical technology programs-the Emergency Medical Technology diploma program and the Paramedic associate degree program-exceed the standards and curriculum established by the US Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration.

National College has a history of creating programs for employees to promote activity levels and healthy nutrition choices. “In addition to being an important regional event, the National College Blue Ridge Marathon also ties in nicely with our new college-wide wellness program,” adds Longaker. Recently, the College launched a wellness program for all full-time employees, which offers a discount on health insurance premiums for those who participate in a plan to improve their overall health and fitness levels.

Previously, the College organized the National Challenge, a system-wide wellness program encouraging employees to record their daily exercise or sporting activities online. This program also provided employees materials and resources on healthy nutrition options. In an effort to raise money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, the college donated money as employees earned points for their logged activities. As a result, the National Challenge raised more than $10,000 through employee participation.

The inaugural National College Blue Ridge Marathon begins and ends in downtown Roanoke. Marathon runners will ascend Mill Mountain and later Roanoke Mountain before returning to the Valley for the final 10 miles on rolling terrain. A substantial portion of the run is on the Blue Ridge Parkway or Parkway property.

Proceeds from the National College Blue Ridge Marathon will benefit Friends of Blue Ridge Parkway (, the official non-profit membership organization of the Parkway. The organization works to protect, preserve, and enhance the Blue Ridge Parkway, one of our national treasures.

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