Picture this -- a cool breeze at your back, the scent of blossoming flowers, “purple mountain’s majesty” in front of you…and the SEARING pain in your quads with each and every stride down this effing mountain!
Don’t come to Roanoke, Virginia to enjoy a relaxing weekend; come to see just how much the National College Blue Ridge Marathon can kick your butt.
If you’re one of the growing population of marathoners seeking challenging marathons to test your mental and physical endurance, you may have noticed a rivalry quickly building between the National College Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke, Virginia and the TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon in Tucson, Arizona. Both races claim to be America’s toughest road marathon.
When organizers of the Blue Ridge Marathon learned about Mount Lemmon’s claim they issued a challenge to “let the runners decide which is tougher”, and they backed their challenge by offering free entries into their race to anyone who had just completed the Mount Lemmon Marathon.
About 20 runners accepted the offer and hit the pavement this past April. After the race, organizers showed some southern hospitality by treating the Mount Lemmon runners to breakfast at Thelma’s Chicken and Waffles. Those who know Thelma’s would argue this was a bribe…and that may be the case. Regardless after experiencing 26.2 miles of elevation change, pounding rain and hail, and a course that trekked through the downtown area, followed a river, climbed the mountain, and took runners back down the mountain, runners were asked to share their experience. Here’s what they had to say:
National College Blue Ridge Marathon
TMC Mount Lemmon Marathon
Three mountains to ascend and descend, totaling 7,200 feet of elevation change.
Gradual climb of 6,000 feet.
Roanoke’s is tougher. At least that’s according to Tim Sykes. He won the 2010 Blue Ridge Marathon and came in second at the 2011 Blue Ridge Marathon. As his prize in 2011, the folks in Roanoke paid for him to head to Tucson and compete in the Mount Lemmon Marathon.
He won that too. “It wasn’t the race itself that helped me decide which was tougher,” said Sykes, “it was how long it took me to recover after the race that was really telling!” “I was able to run 40 minutes the day after the Mount Lemmon Marathon, [but I] couldn’t really run for three days following the Blue Ridge Marathon,” said Sykes. “Although Mount Lemmon was beautiful, very tough, and a challenging - both mentally and physically…I’d have to say that the Blue Ridge [Marathon] is definitely tougher.”
You decide.Pete Eshelman of RoanokeOutside.com, an organizer of the Blue Ridge Marathon, wants you to decide for yourself. Register before December 31st for the National College Blue Ridge Marathon and receive 15 percent off the registration fee, just use the code “Tough”.
Roanoke has so much to offer visitors: wineries, hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails, quiet countryside vistas, quaint boutiques, and restaurants for almost every palette, everything a guest needs to enjoy the beauty and serenity the Roanoke Region of Virginia has to offer. But for one weekend a year, we’re looking for the visitors that don’t want any part of that – instead they’re looking for the challenge of a lifetime – and we can offer them that too!Win a free entry. Here is how you can win. Provide a comment on this post. The comment should explain why you want to run "the toughest marathon in the US." Then, follow my blog. I will pick the most interesting comment and email the lucky winner a code (through email you provide in your profile when you follow blog) that will give you a free entry to the National College Blue Ridge Marathon. There will only be one winner, so be creative! I will make a decision in mid-December.
Here are some Pics of the event.