America's Toughest Road Marathon: 2022 Recap - Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon

April 22, 2023

America’s Toughest Road Marathon: 2022 Recap

The Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation announced today that the weekend of April 15-17 saw an economic impact of $1.2 million from the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and the Freedom First Down by Downtown Music Festival. Since 2010, these events have had an $8.1 million economic impact throughout the Roanoke Region. This news generates optimism surrounding the return to in-person events in Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

The Roanoke Regional Partnership conducts post-event surveys following its events to determine the economic impact generated by visitors. For this event: how many runners travelled to the region for the race, how long they stayed, and how much they spent while here. This important practice ensures events achieve their goals as economic drivers while showcasing the excellent outdoor assets, welcoming community, and vibrant culture of the region.

In addition to providing positive economic impact for local businesses, the event continues to financially support nonprofit charities to the tune of $218,850 since 2010.

With two years of uncertainty surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, organizers are heartened to see this data and know the event is back on track and poised to continue growing and being a champion of the region in 2023. Next year’s event date is April 22nd, registration is open now.

Read on for economic and social data depicting the success of this distinctly Blue Ridge weekend.

Event Highlights

  • 2,864 people from 40 states and five countries participated in the race.
  • “This is easily my favorite weekend of the year! …I love the challenge, the views, the spectators especially on Peakwood. Roanoke does it right with this race. I can’t wait to run again this year.” – Google Review
  • 12 jobs over the period of one year are supported by the spending activity surrounding the race.
  • 1,560 overnight visitors travelled and stayed in Roanoke for the race, many for multiple nights.
  • 46 Police Officers and a combined force of over 50 Transportation, Fire and EMS, E-911 Communications, Parks and Recreation, and National Parks Service Staff ensured the race was safe, smooth, and easy to navigate.
  • 556 Volunteers, including 16 non-profit organizations turned out en masse to earn donations and support runners by course marshalling, running aid stations, pouring beer, and more. They were: FCA Endurance, Grandin Theatre Foundation, Cave Spring High School Band, Citylight Church, Friends of the Blue Ridge, Kiwanis Club of Roanoke, Blue Ridge New Generations Rotary Club, United Way of Roanoke Valley, Roanoke Diversity Center, Star City Cycling, Roanoke Valley Devo Bike Team, Girls on the Run of Central Virginia and the Blue Ridge, Prevention Council of Roanoke County, Children’s Miracle Network, Pathfinders for Greenways, and Alternative Arts Inc.
  • Runners had their choice of seven different distances over the weekend: 
    • Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon (26.2 miles)
    • Foot Levelers Half Marathon (13.1 miles)
    • Anthem Star 10k (10k)
    • Blue Ridge Double Marathon (52.4 miles)
    • Carilion Children’s Family 1 Miler (1mile)
    • Freedom First Team Relay (varied 4.8 to 9.1 miles per leg)
    • Sunday Slow-K presented by Altra (5k)
  • 13 music venues participated in this year’s city-wide Down by Downtown Music Festival: Martin’s Downtown, Starr Hill Brewery, 5 Points Music Sanctuary, The Spot on Kirk, The Jefferson Center, Big Lick Brewing, Twisted Track Brewpub, Sweet Donkey Coffee House, Fork in the Market, Fork in the Alley, Sidewinders, Mill Mountain Theatre, and Elmwood Park
  • Music festival goers had a choice of 30 music acts over four days at the Freedom First Down by Downtown Music Festival including the Wallflowers, Lady Couch, Jonathan Scales Fourchestra, Nth Power, Joel Ross, Whitehall, and more.
  • The Sunday recovery run: The Blue Ridge Slow-K Presented by Altra reached its third year featuring recovery yoga, therapy goats, Easter eggs, coffee, mimosas, biscuits, and hundreds of happy runners enjoying the Roanoke River Greenway at an easy social pace. See coverage by RVTV below.

The Wallflowers Headline Freedom First Down by Downtown Festival