How Long Was Your Marathon?

Blue Ridge Marathon Race Recap

Well, my race did not go as planned. It was an act of nature, however, not my lack of athletic prowess that was the demise of this event.

As the forecast for Saturday’s race was finalized, it was apparent that we would get wet. And the radar in the morning showed a strong line of thunderstorms headed toward Roanoke. 

As we toed the line to start the race at 7:35 AM, the weather was warm and very humid, while the air was simply stagnant. But as we approached mile 6 toward the crest of Roanoke Mountain, suddenly the weather changed. It became very dark, the wind started picking up, and the rain began. Not just rain, but thunder and lightning. 

We were less than a mile from the top when runners ahead of us on this out-and-back section of the course warned us that officials had shut down the event. My running partner and I decided to trudge on to the top, since we were so close, before we made a decision about finishing the race on our own. 

With Selina at the top of Roanoke Mountain, the view obstructed by clouds and rain. Photo courtesy of Selena C.

We were advised by race officials that if we continued on the course, there would no longer be water stops, any aid, or timing mats, and the roads had already re-opened. We were also told that since this was a sanctioned event, they had no choice but to call it off for insurance reasons.

With other runners waiting for a bus to take us back to the start. Photo courtesy of Selina C.

Now that we had stopped, we were cold, soaking wet, and completely defeated. We joined the 40 or so other runners under a tent around the corner from the base of Roanoke Mountain to wait for a bus to take us back to the finish area. 

What arrived wasn’t any ordinary bus. It was a paddy wagon! I sincerely hope it’s the one time I end up in one of these. 

With my friend Selina in the paddy wagon. Photo by author.

This bus took us further down the mountain to a point where the city buses could access it, and this is the bus that took us back to our cars. 

My patients often ask me how long my marathon was. I tell them that a marathon is always 26.2 miles. But to answer my question posed in the title, my marathon on Saturday was only 9 miles. 

I have the option to repeat the race virtually at home. I’m not super crazy about this idea, as I’ve done two other virtual marathons. The point was to conquer America’s Toughest Road Race. 

I’m conflicted about what to do. Here are my possible options: 

  • Since I have family in Roanoke, I could return, stay, and do the course again. 
  • I could plan a 26.2 mile route here in Richmond. 
  • I could sign up for a different spring marathon. I’m already trained!
  • Or, I could ditch the whole idea of running a spring marathon altogether.

I’m really disappointed. And now I wish I’d just finished the course on Saturday. Many of my friends did and found the neighborhoods in Roanoke stepping up to provide support for all of the runners who decided to trudge on after the storm had passed. Some of the volunteers even stayed after the finish festival was supposed to be shut down so that they could hand out medals to renegade finishers. 

This was the first race I’ve ever started that I didn’t finish.

At the Roanoke Star after the race was canceled. Photo by author.


Have you ever had a race called off while you were running it? I’d love to hear about it!

As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.

Published by annecreates

I am a physical therapist, wife, mom, runner, artist, and vegan. I'm passionate about helping others find wellness, speaking about the human experience, and in fighting for social justice. Assistant Coach for the Sports Backers Marathon Training Team. Current ambassador for: Boco Gear, SaltStick, SPIbelt, Goodr, Noxgear, and Switch4Good.

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