ROANOKE, Va. - America's Toughest Road Marathon is hitting a new milestone this year.
The Blue Ridge Marathon has been drawing in crowds and pumping tourism dollars into Roanoke for 10 years now. It's grown from a humble one-day event that drew less than 1,000 runners to a four-day event attracting more than 2,750 runners.
Besides the full marathon, half marathon, 10K, and a family 1-miler, this year's event will also feature a new "Slow-K" along the greenway that won't be timed. Runners and walkers will get a coffee mug and doughnuts at the finish line of the 5K, and anyone can participate with a $15 registration.
Organizers are also excited that Olympian and author Jeff Galloway is coming to the BRM this year. He's the founder of the run-walk-run training method and competed in the Olympics back in 1972. He's also the official training consultant for runDisney.
Organizers estimate that the Blue Ridge Marathon has brought more than $4.5 million into the Roanoke Valley over the past decade. It's also raised $185,000 for dozens of local nonprofits.
The race weekend kicks off Thursday, April 11 with the Down by Downtown Music Festival, which features live music at multiple venues in downtown Roanoke. The main races will be April 13, with the Slow-K set for April 14.
Alfredo Huerta ran the 2018 race in 3:07. He's going for his 10th straight marathon this year.
"I managed to encourage and entice other people to suffer with me at this event. And my wife being one of them," said Huerta.
This race has taught him to chase his goals while going through depression and tough times.
"I wasn't prepared for this event. But just the challenges I've had to overcome to finish the event taught me that sometimes life isn't exactly how you think it's going to be. If you can just kind of push through those challenges you know sometimes you can be rewarded," said Huerta.
Steve Stone, senior VP at Foot Leverlers said he's ready to take on a new challenge.
"I'm going to run the double marathon this year after running the full marathon twice previously and the half marathon a couple times," said Stone.
Copyright 2019 by WSLS 10 - All rights reserved.