Thanks to Dave Watt at the American Running Association for these kind words:
Several marathons entice you by claiming their race is the “Fastest qualifier for Boston” or the “Biggest Drop in altitude over 26.2 miles in the U.S.” Several marathons in the U.S. have taken that marketing slogan as a lure to bring in marathoners to their race. Has it worked? For Tucson (AZ) and Steamtown (PA)’ marathon organizers, I am sure they would acknowledge that their marketing campaigns have succeeded. Runners seeking PRs and Boston qualifiers have flocked to their locales.
The race committee in Roanoke Virginia has taken a different tack. Their city and community are nestled in and around the Blue Ridge Mountains in Southwest Virginia. It is considered one of the more beautiful spots in the U.S. to visit and for many to live. The new marathon will embrace its local mountain chain and showcase one of the truly unique bi-ways in America, the Blue Ridge Parkway. This two-lane interstate road traverses the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains beginning at the southern end of the Skyline Drive in Central Virginia all the way to the southwest North Carolina near Cherokee NC, a stretch of winding roads just over 460 miles in length. The Blue Ridge Parkway was a public works project in the 1930s during the Great Depression.
Will marathoners flock to run either the Marathon or its planned half marathon in April 2010? The challenge alone will attract attention and many dedicated runners. There is risk in the planning a marathon that dares the slow runner to get in better shape and give this race a shot. It is not always about being the fastest. Roanoke’s Blue Ridge Marathon will offer toughness, beauty and bragging rights. That may be enough.