This past Saturday I looked out over Elmwood Park and I just had to smile. Musicians played on the new stage as runners crossed the finish line and everywhere you looked were colorful tents and banners. Most importantly, there were lots of happy people, enjoying themselves despite – and perhaps because of — the torturous Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon.
As a founding member of the committee that organizes the event, I can tell you that six years ago when we sat around in a conference room with a white board and mapped out potential courses, and discussed the potential for this race to, “put Roanoke on the map,” this is what we dreamed might happen.
Of course we could not know about Elmwood Park and certainly not G Love and Special Sauce coming to play in five years. But we hoped upon hope that the difficult course, with its 7,400 feet of elevation change would draw people instead of pushing them away. We wanted people to come to Roanoke, challenge themselves in our beautiful mountains, and see the city for the outdoor destination is deserves to be.
As the start/finish line announcer on race day, I looked out at so many runners, preparing for and then completing the Star K 10K race, the half-marathon (with a new and more difficult course) and the beast that is the Blue Ridge Marathon itself, and I saw people who came to accomplish their dream of completing a bucket list challenge.
And I realized my dreams were coming true too.