2016 Blue Ridge Half Marathon Race Recap

In April, I had the pleasure of running the Blue Ridge Half Marathon in Roanoke as an official blogger for the race.  Now that its mid-June, I’m thinking it is probably about time I post a race recap…  So, here it goes!

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

Before the Race

Race weekend started on Friday when we dropped the kids off at their grandparents, and my husband and I drove down to Roanoke.  Last year when we drove to Roanoke to run the Blue Ridge full marathon, I dropped my phone in a rest area toilet, (ew!) This year the car ride was, thankfully, much less “exciting.”

We made it to the expo about an hour before it was over.  The Blue Ridge expo is pretty small, but its in a lovely place in downtown Roanoke and packet pickup was quick and easy, and I love the swag the Blue Ridge Marathon gives out.  (Including race stickers, and a free pair of socks from Farm to Feet, whose running socks I’ve worn for years).

After picking up our packets, we grabbed some pizza and left to meet up with some friends.  My husband and I have a good friend, Jeremy, that we run a lot of races with, and Jeremy’s family have a beautiful house on Smith Mountain Lake.  We are so fortunate to be invited to stay there when we run in Roanoke.


I mean, just look at that view!  And the lake is COLD in April, which would make a great “ice bath” if I had the courage for that sort of thing. 😉

After catching up with Jeremy and his wife, Kellie, (because we haven’t seen them since the Marine Corps Marathon last fall), we got some rest before our early morning wake up call.

Race Day!

A little bit about this race first…  Last year I ran the full marathon.  The full marathon is considered “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” with over 7,000 ft of elevation changes and climbing 3 mountains.  The half marathon, includes 2 of those mountains, Mill Mountain and Peakwood Mountain and has an elevation change of 3790 ft. So, it was definitely a super tough course!

Going into the race, I had no real time goals…  This race was about having fun!

We made it to the start with plenty of time to spare. It was a beautiful crisp morning, and it looked like it was going to be a beautiful day!

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

Port-a-potty picture!

So we said goodbye to Kellie, (our cheering section) lined up in the corrals, and we were off!

Blue Ridge Recap

What kind of blogger would I be if I didn’t update my social media?!  😉 

Jeremy, Zach and I ran together for the first mile or so.  We kept a pretty conservative pace, but I was itching to speed up a little bit.  So, I said goodbye to the boys, and made my way uphill on my own.

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

My good side?! 

After the first half mile or so, we started the climb up Mill Mountain, to the giant Star at the top.  It was about 3 miles of climbing, and my average pace for that climb after I left was about 10:30 min/mile.  Not super fast, but I knew that if I ran any faster, I’d wear myself out way too early…


The famous Mill Mountain Star!

The views from the top of Mill Mountain were spectacular.  Blue Ridge is by far the most scenic race I’ve ever ran.  Last year while running the full, we stopped at the top for a few pictures, this year I kept running.  I was ready to make up my time a little on the downhill.  From about mile 3.5 to mile 5.5 it was a really steep down hill.  My average pace for those two miles were somewhere around the low 7’s.  I’m glad that it wasn’t a super crowded race, because with my momentum while I was racing down that hill, if someone had stopped in front of me, it would have been a disaster!

Once I reached the bottom, it was about two miles rolling hills before it was time for a climb up Peakwood.  Having ran last year, I was prepared for Peakwood.  Its a beautiful neighborhood, and the elevation is not quite as high as Mill Mountain.  HOWEVER, it feels SO much harder!  I was feeling exhausted.  Peakwood is winding, and just when you think it may be flattening out, you’re climbing again.  At this point, my pace dropped down to about 11:00 min/mile at best, and I think I only saw one or two people that didn’t walk for the uphills.  (Hats off to those few, because I even found myself walking a time or two).

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

This is what tired looks like!

The spectators at this part of the race were fantastic!  Once you reach the top, its like the neighborhood is putting on a big party for the runners!  There’s beer and water, and lots of snacks and food.  I was just ready to finish the race, so I started the two mile descent back down…  This downhill was a lot more painful than the descent down Mill Mountain, and my knees were feeling every step, but I still kept an OK pace, and finished the race pretty strong!

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

All Done!

I finished with a time of 2:12.  Definitely not close to my half marathon PR, but for running America’s Toughest Half Marathon, I’m OK with that!

After the Race

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

After finishing, I got my medal, which doubles as a bottle opener, (and the full marathon medal is also a belt buckle)!  Then I went back to watch Zach and Jeremy finish their races, and we went searching for the food tent!  Last year, after the full marathon, I was too tired to enjoy the finish festival, which is really a shame because the Blue Ridge Marathon puts on one heck of a finish festival!

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

After sitting in the grass for a bit, and eating some pizza we grabbed our free beers, found a seat by the stage where they had live music playing, and just enjoyed the rest of a gorgeous day!

Blue Ridge Half Marathon Recap

What a way to spend a Saturday!

If you’re looking for an awesome spring race, or an incredible challenge, I would absolutely recommend the Blue Ridge Marathon!  Roanoke is one of the coolest cities, and the Blue Ridge Marathon is one heck of a race!  In fact, I fully intend to be back in 2017!  The only question is whether I want the challenge of 26.2 miles or 13.1 miles again!


Before leaving, we stopped to cheer on the marathon finishers!  So awesome to see!

Would you ever consider running America’s Toughest road race?


  1. I was looking at this race, but then a work conflict came up. You should try the “ice bath” in the lake! What a gorgeous way to recover.

  2. Sounds like a challenging course! I love it when the town gets into the race spirit. I don’t think this is too far from me in No Va but I’ve never been.

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