ROANOKE, Va. – One of the region’s biggest events is back after going virtual last year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Preparations are underway in Elmwood Park and elsewhere as 3,000 people lace up their shoes for the Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke this weekend.
Coming from 40 states and five countries, Roanoke Outside Foundation Events Director Julia Boas, hopes this highlights the city on the map.
“This is our opportunity to show them what a great community we have and how many breweries, live music venues,” she said. “And how friendly our neighborhoods are by running through your streets and backyards and things like that.”
Boas said in just one year, the race typically brings in about one million dollars to the area.
A source needed now more than ever to help jumpstart the economy.
“The downtown businesses are really ready to get back to normal,” Boas said. “They are probably the people who’ve been affected the most.”
Nearly filled already with mainly out-of-state guests, the Hampton Inn Downtown expects to be fully booked in the coming days.
Shay Bowman, the hotel’s director of sales, said it’s a relief after battling with vacant rooms and furloughed employees for months due to COVID-19.
“It’s a huge impact,” Bowman said. “It’s like we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.”
It doesn’t just help the hospitality industry.
Catherine Fox with Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge said with more people training for the event shoe stores are selling more apparel.
Fox said this marathon not only brings in revenue, but it also brings in exposure.
“The marathon at times sets the stage for what is to come and if we can get more people here and more comfortable with visiting the area, the marathon is a great way to do that,” she said.
And the exposure continues by attracting more guests by hosting the Down by Downtown music festival which kicked off Thursday.