America’s Toughest Road Marathon has the most elevation change of any road race in the United States.
LOCATION: Course Start at Elmwood Park in downtown Roanoke, VA
START TIME: 7:35 AM
Corral Start System– Look for pace time markers and find the section that fits your goal. Please be respectful of other runners by placing yourself in the appropriate section. Faster runners congregating closest to the front.
The Blue Ridge Marathon course is not for the faint of heart. The course begins and ends in downtown Roanoke. In between, runners will enter the Blue Ridge Parkway, where they will make three significant climbs and descents.
The course begins easily with one mile of rolling hills, before taking its first turn upward as runners begin the 2-mile climb up Mill Mountain. At the top of the day’s initial climb, the race enters the Blue Ridge Parkway, where there are several lengthy and challenging hills over the next two-plus miles. Then runners will encounter the most beautiful but challenging portion of the course – the climb up Roanoke Mountain.
Roanoke Mountain ascends approximately 780 feet in two miles with multiple switchbacks. Runners will see magnificent views of the region’s mountains and valleys as they pass the numerous overlooks, and will be rewarded with the best view at the top. The steep decent on the back of Roanoke Mountain is equally beautiful and difficult as the gradient forces runners to keep their speed in check.
After 4 miles of climbing and descending, the course returns to the Blue Ridge Parkway where runners will re-trace their steps toward Mill Mountain. Participants will then ascend Mill Mountain (the part not covered on the first pass) to the famous Mill Mountain Star, overlooking the beautiful Roanoke Valley and — much of the course still to be run!
From the Star, runners will encounter another major 2-mile decent down Prospect Avenue – also known as the “old road” to Mill Mountain. Back on the valley floor the final 10 miles is rolling with several challenging hills. Don’t let mile 18 and 24 sneak up on you!
The Valley section of the course briefly skirts the Roanoke River before turning into the historic and scenic area known as South Roanoke, famous for its beautiful homes. Be aware of a long climb on Avenham and Peakwood Avenues as you turn into the neighborhood. You will crest the hill right at 20 miles.
The terrain flattens out for the next 3 miles as you make your way through Old Southwest, along the Roanoke River Greenway, and through Wasena before heading downtown to the finish line at Elmwood Park.