Blue Ridge Race Festivities Provide $1.6 Million Boost to Regional Economy

On April 17, 2021 our community welcomed thousands of people to the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon and Freedom First Down by Downtown music festival. The weekend of festivities was one of the first large in-person events to be held since the beginning of the pandemic. The result was a $1,600,000 million economic boost to the local economy, which was needed more than ever to support the regional hospitality industry that has been greatly impacted by COVID-19. 

A third of the jobs lost on a net basis in the Roanoke Region, as a result of the pandemic, are in the hospitality industry. Polling of local restaurants, businesses and hotels showed that the weekend drove an unprecedented amount of both local and out-of-town traffic back to downtown. 

“Race weekend has always had a positive impact on the businesses in Roanoke, especially the restaurants downtown,” said Jason Martin, owner of restaurants Martin’s Downtown and Sidecar. “We noticed increased traffic throughout the weekend and there were many first time and out-of-town visitors in our dining rooms. I personally observed many diners sporting marathon shirts that also stuck around for the live music. The whole weekend had a different feel – it felt very festive!” 

2021 Economic Impact Update:

  • 2,800 runners registered for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, double marathon, half marathon, Freedom First team relay, Anthem Star 10k, Carilion Family 1 Miler and Sunday Slow K. 
  • Post-race survey data determined the weekend created $920,000 in direct new sales.
  • An additional $680,000 in indirect and induced spending for a total of $1,600,000.
  • Economic activity surrounding the event will support 20 jobs in the regional economy over one year.
  • 56% of the participating athletes were from outside the Roanoke Region.
  • The average length stay among overnight visitors was 1.9 nights.
  • Runners attended the event from 40 states and five countries.
  • $10,000 from race proceeds were donated to 14 nonprofits that supported the race with volunteer hours. That is a total of $210,750.

To read the entire economic impact report story go to –

The 2022 races are schedule for April 16 – REGISTRATION IS OPEN.