Race Report: Blue Ridge Marathon, 2017

I always have a hard time writing this report because there is SO MUCH to tell! Bear with me, this will be long (and has a ton of pictures). TL;DR It was awesome. You should do it 🙂

My race prep started Thursday night when my Sole Sister give me a fantastic send off.  She was unable to race this year due to family commitments so she did the next best thing by plastering my house with a fantastic sign, a light-up star, a bottle of champagne, and other goodies (including a shower cap because the weather guys said there would be rain)

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Friday morning I picked up the other two runners from my MRTT chapter and we made the trek to Roanoke with no problem.  We stayed at the Cambria hotel again and, once again, I say it’s the best choice.  We had a two bedroom suite that was as big as some apartments!  I highly recommend them!

We hit the expo as soon as it opened.  Everything was well managed and it seems like it was a bit bigger this year.  All race distances received a custom shirt. This was the first year with the double marathoners being an official distance so they even had their own race shirt! Not a lot of smaller races do that!  They are also SUPER soft!   We also received a free pair of socks from Farm to Feet.

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And there were more clothing options this year so I grabbed the best hoodie ever and a new buff that I will cut down and use as three head bands.

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I also picked up one of the limited prints and a couple of other things.

We had a lovely meal at Fortunato’s.  I had bolognaise with homemade spaghetti and my friend had a fennel and speck pizza.  We both had sides of roasted beets 🙂

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Highly recommend this restaurant!

 

We left the hotel at 6:30 and walked over to the start.  It was just over a mile and it was a nice little warm up.  It was sprinkling but not bad.  We dropped our bags with no problem, met up with some other friends, and then went to check out the VIP area that I had access to as part of being a blogger and having a team.  The indoor bathrooms were nice and we could have had some coffee or a muffin or fruit but we were good.

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Overlooking the finish area

The race started at 7:35 with a legit cannon and we were off!

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 I was running with my Peep as part of our running club’s challenge for the month.  Sunshine amused a lot of runners!

First stop was Roanoke Mountain.  The course was crowded for the first almost 3 miles but thinned out considerably when the half marathon and 10K people split off to go up Mill Mountain to the star.  It was a bit drizzly and we were running through the clouds as we went up the mountain.  As usual, the first overlook did not disappoint!

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First Overlook, on our way up Roanoke Mountain

At the top of the mountain, there was a big aid station with gummy bears, pretzels, bananas, and oranges.  It was nice to have some real food!

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Feeling goofy on the first peak 🙂

We then went back down into the mist and it soon turned into rain

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Then we went back up Mill Mountain to the star.

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They had awesome volunteers on “photo duty” – taking everyone’s pictures for them!

Then down for the alcohol!!

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First, the Moo-Mosa lady ❤ She was liberal with the champagne, too!
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Then the Mai-Tai ladies!
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Maybe not the smartest choice, so soon after the mimosa…

Then down we went to the town, along the river and greenway and through the soccer field (including what we referred to as the “rape and murder tunnel” – though I am sure it is perfectly safe!)  The weather was still holding so it was quite comfortable and it was very different from the sunny death march of last year!

And then… duh, duh, du  PEAKWOOD!

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Yeah, Peakwood is still a bitch.  You go up, and then down and think “oh, that wasn’t bad” and then you go UP!!  Luckily, I was prepared this year and didn’t want to die at the top!  Though my calves were screaming for mercy!

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Champagne and strawberries!

And then down we went, back to town.  Around mile 22, our friend who was supporting her husband (who placed second in his AG in the half, NBD… ) found us and was going to run with us but I told her that the police were reporting lightning and asked that she go back and find out what was going on.  Not long afterwards we were informed that the course would be closing.  There was a bus coming and our friend confirmed that we could finish on our own and get a medal or get on the bus and not.  By that time we were almost at mile 24 so we chose to not get on the bus.  They took down our bib number and confirmed that we understood that the course was now open to traffic.  We said yes and off we went!

This is the first time I have had a race called due to weather and I think they handled it very well.  The aid stations were packing up but they left cups out for anyone they could catch before they left and a lot of the course marshals stayed at their posts.  We only had to cross two bigger roads without a marshal and the traffic stopped for us with no problem.  Even the volunteers who were walking back to their cars would stop and cheer for us.  Seriously, Richmond Marathon may say they are the friendliest marathon but I think BRM is an EXTREMELY close second.  Every single volunteer went above and beyond to give us an excellent race!

So, the clock was ticking and the clouds were looming and we were hot-footing it for the finish.  We were all hurting but we knew we were almost done.  I was really happy I knew the course so I could give my team a heads-up before the last big hill and talk them through the finish.

They were tearing down the finish area but we still had a clock time and received our medals.  Also, our awesome friends at the finish secured food (and beer!) for us and helped us get to shelter before all hell broke lose.  Seriously, it would have been a different finish without their support!

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Got my belt buckle!
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We did this!

Good:

Views

Crowd support/aid stations/all the volunteers

How they handled the shut down

Race shirt

Medal

Not good:

The rain at the end but what can you do??

Overall:

Solid A! This remains my favorite race!  It still kicked my butt but I still don’t care.  I ran without a watch (until the very end, just so I knew where we were for our support crew) and we lingered over the views and at the aid stations and that made it awesome!  Yes, we could have been faster but we would not have had as much fun!  We chatted with all sorts of interesting people along the way and just had an amazing adventure.  I will definitely be back next year!

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