Blue Ridge Half Marathon – A Recap

Wow! Seems every weekend in Roanoke is better. Now to find a job there and move. Other than loving the area, I am sitting here today, on the third day after this half, and still a bit sore from it. There are not words to describe the fun in running this race, the fun in seeing old friends again. I only wish Amy could have made it this year.

Now to get down to business. I knew that Peakwood, the hill that I absolutely hated from the full marathon last year, had been added to the half this year. I ran into a person at a booth at Richmond in November that told me all about it. I was not thrilled but figured Peakwood was slightly more doable at 10 miles than at 19 miles.

The Half "improvements" with the addition of Peakwood
The Half “improvements” with the addition of Peakwood


The race starts out flat in downtown Roanoke but as soon as it heads up and over the first bridge the uphill starts at you. I do not shy away from a challenge and this is a challenge. As those of us who attended the pasta dinner on Friday night were told, sometimes you are okay walking the mountains. The full marathoners keep going towards Roanoke Mountain while the half marathoners and the 10K runners head up Mill Mountain to the Star.

The Star from behind as we approach it on foot
The Star from behind as we approach it on foot
The front of the Star
The front of the Star
Roanoke from Mill Mountain
Roanoke from Mill Mountain

Once the peak of Mill Mountain is passed, a steep downhill starts. On this downhill is a home where the resident has an ice bucket or two out keeping orange juice and champagne cold. There are moo-mosas for anyone who would like one.

Sign telling of approaching Moo-Mosas
Sign telling of approaching Moo-Mosas


As the downhill continues, the views are stunning as you can see the valley to your left. You can also see so many mountains off in the distance. At one point in time, you needed to pay a toll to get to the top of the mountain. We ran under the old toll booth.

This old toll booth had been in disrepair but was restored in recent years.
This old toll booth had been in disrepair but was restored in recent years.

After a flat bit, the half eventually starts up again. Peakwood was my most hated part of the full marathon. I am hoping, by taking Roanoke Mountain out of the equation and running the half, I will survive Peakwood better than I did last year.

The biggest difference between Peakwood and the other mountain(s) – Mill for the half, Mill and Roanoke for the full – is that it is residential. The neighbors come out in force to help you up this mountain.

Welcome to Peakwood
Welcome to Peakwood

At times, I am sure the downhill is worse than the uphill. This year I managed the downhill okay. The uphills did me in but I somewhat expected that as I didn’t get in as much hill training as I wanted. I really loved the items that Carillion Clinic stenciled on the roads. Along with the GU tree, which there were two of this year, I have some photos below that help with the memories.

GU Tree
GU Tree
Making Your Kids Proud
Beating this hill too (on the way up Mill Mountain)
Passing somebody younger than you (almost to Peakwood)

Not only are the Blue Ridge Marathon, half or Star 10K beautiful races, they challenge you from the start. You should all try to run one of them next year.

2 thoughts on “Blue Ridge Half Marathon – A Recap

  1. you (almost) make me want to do the race 😛 mountains are scary, but the crowd support sounds like (almost) worth the effort.

    1. The support, both race sanctioned and just the people in Roanoke, is amazing to me. It is so much better than the big races I have run.

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