Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon Named Top Spring Marathon

The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon continues to rack up accolades in its fifth year. America’s Toughest Road Marathon was recently named one of the Best Spring Marathons in the U.S. by Daily Burn. 

Here is what they said about the Roanoke Region’s most popular race:

“Like rolling hills? You better if you want to run the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, which is often hailed as ‘America’s Toughest Road Marathon’ and featured on many marathon bucket lists. A group of 750 runners will face 7,430 feet of total elevation change over the course, with three huge climbs and descents on Mill Mountain, in the Blue Ridge Parkway and up Roanoke Mountain. So how do runners endure the killer ups and downs? According to race directors ‘it’s like running through a postcard,’ and the most breathtaking views of the region’s mountains and valleys are (of course) best seen from the top. There’s also a half-marathon or 10K option available at the event, with net proceeds from all races benefiting Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.” 

This year’s marathon takes place on April 26th, 2014, and there are less than 100 spots left in the full lenth marathon. Don’t worry, though, this year’s race also features a half marathon, and the Anthem Star K 10K. With all the new races and the increase in runners, volunteers are more important than ever and a great way to be a part of the event.

Find out more about volunteering for the Blue Ridge Marathon.

New Brewery Coming to Franklin County

Chaos Mountain Brewing taking shape inside former bed factory

CALLAWAY, Va. (January 27, 2014) – There’s a new business brewing inside a former bed factory in Franklin County.

Work is wrapping up to transform the former SleepSafe Beds facility on Dillon’s Mill Road in Callaway into Chaos Mountain Brewing. Once open early this year, the microbrewery will be capable of producing 2,500 barrels of beer in the first year, eventually creating 20-25 new jobs. 

The million-dollar-plus, 20,000-square-foot project will eventually feature eight to 12 varieties of beer, bottling facility, cold storage and office space. It will include a tasting room, open to the public within view of brewing tanks. 

“Chaos Mountain is part of a growing microbrewing industry in the Roanoke Region and across Virginia,” said owner Joe Hallock. “The East Coast is several years behind the West Coast in the growth of the craft beer industry. This part of the state is within two days shipping to 75 percent of the United States.  We see a lot of potential in the Roanoke Region and the Mid-Atlantic.

“Originally we were going to name the brewery after Cahas Mountain, where the building is located,” Hallock added. “But we realized Chaos was a more fitting name.  It lends itself to more interesting beer names and, as we like to say, “Chaos is brewing!” 

Workers have been busy renovating the interior, installing floor drains, staging equipment and framing rooms.  Joe and his wife, Wendy, are doing much of the work themselves, joined by son Ben.  The brewery has space for 30 tanks, each holding 30 barrels of beer. The plant will have a long-term production capacity of 25,000 barrels per year, or more than 325,000 cases of bottled beer per year. The brewery will use a well as its water source. The water has been tested as high quality and essentially neutral, negating the need to remove anything from the water.  

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors provided financial assistance to the project, which also is receiving assistance from the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Virginia Jobs Investment Program.  

Brewing beer is big business. There are more than 40 breweries in Virginia, a 25 percent increase in the past two years. In the Roanoke Region alone, there are five microbrews and 11 within an hour of downtown Roanoke. Chaos Mountain is the second in Franklin County after Sunken City Brewing Company opened last year.

The Franklin County Board of Supervisors worked to achieve this new business announcement within the community.  Board Chairman David Cundiff stated, “We are proud to have a company like Chaos Mountain Brewing opening in Franklin County.  As the second brewery in the county, this announcement proves that this community is an advantageous place for entrepreneurs, especially craft brewers, to locate and grow their businesses.”

“Chaos Mountain has recognized that the Roanoke Region offers craft breweries a host of advantages, starting with quality water and low costs of doing business,” said Ann Blair Miller, director of project management for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “As Chaos Mountain looks to future growth, it’s also important to be within a day’s truck drive of two-thirds of the U.S. population. And our region’s outdoor-oriented culture typically draws fans of microbrews.” 


The Roanoke Regional Partnership markets Alleghany, Botetourt, Franklin and Roanoke counties, Roanoke, Salem, and Vinton to new and expanding industry.  Since 1983, the Partnership has assisted expansions and locations representing $1.4 billion in new investment and 14,000 direct new jobs in the region. To learn more, please visit

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Roanoke: City of Unexpected Delights

From the Miami Herald

“Hey, y’all, we’ll move over. Come sit on down,” the scruffy bearded man called to us. We had heard the Texas Tavern eatery in Roanoke was small, but didn’t realize it was this small — a tiny hallway of a café.

The Tavern’s loyal clientele flocks to it 24 hours a day, no matter that they have to stand outside and wait for one of the ten bar stools. Those $1.70 bowls of “chile” and $1.30 burgers and dogs hit the spot, as they have for Roanokers and others since the 1930s.

On this day, the stools were occupied by an extroverted South African, two burly bikers from Miami, our bearded new friend and his buddy, the three of us, and a spiffily dressed businessman. All races, all professions, all income levels rest their feet on the old foot rail. The Tavern even sports an ancient cigarette vending machine.

Just as the Texas Tavern surprised me, I was delighted by Roanoke during a recent visit. It’s a hodgepodge, with unexpected discoveries at every turn. “Star City” — called that because of the 100-foot-high man-made star that overlooks it from Mill Mountain — is not to be confused with North Carolina’s “lost colony of Roanoke.” This Roanoke is very much alive.

Virginia’s Roanoke Valley encompasses the lovely Grandma Moses-like patchwork of the city itself and the surrounding villages of Bedford, Catawba, Fincastle, Salem, Troutville, and others along the densely wooded Blue Ridge Parkway. With a population of more than 300,000, it is the largest metropolitan center in the Blue Ridge Mountains, offering a heady mix of outdoor beauty and recreation, culture, folk heritage, history and Southern hospitality.

From the awe-inspiring top of McAfee Knob, to an eclectic yet very professional performance of Opera Roanoke, to a moving film about a man with a passion for steam locomotives, I had experiences here I’d never had elsewhere.

Center in the Square, in the heart of Roanoke, houses three museums, state-of-the-art theater, and butterfly pavilion. Recently reopened after an expansive renovation, the Center is home to The Science Museum of Western Virginia, the History Museum of Western Virginia and Harrison Museum of African American Culture. Mill Mountain Theatre is a regional professional venue, presenting plays and musicals year round.

Just 20 years ago, almost no one lived in then-dilapidated downtown Roanoke. Urban renewal kicked in and today, there are 70 restaurants, a multitude of shops, bustling sidewalks, and restored lofts and condos filled with residents.

See the story in the Miami Herald for more.  

5 Things I Love About Roanoke


This past November, I hit the road for an Old School Virginia Road Trip. My first stop was Roanoke, a city about 3 1/2 hours away from D.C. that I had heard about, but never visited before.

With my limited knowledge, Roanoke was faceless with ambiguous features. But after my day and a half of exploring this Blue Ridge mountain town— feeling the energy of downtown, experiencing the character of the neighborhoods, seeing the beauty of the outdoors, sampling the locally-made craft beer (and finding it to be really good)— the features quickly and vividly filled in. I was left with a portrait of a place that’s both friendly and accessible with just enough flair to make it distinctly unique.

I really loved my visit, and wanted to share some of the things that I discovered about Roanoke that surprised and delighted me.


1- The Easy Access to the Outdoors

Geographically, Roanoke’s located in a valley between the Blue Ridge and Allegheny Mountains. When you’re standing in downtown Roanoke, small mountains can be seen, showing the promise of outdoor activities that are all around you.

With 26 miles of urban greenway trails, countless public parks and easy access to nearby hiking spots like McAfee Knob (one of the most photographed spots on the Appalachian Trail), Roanoke is a city that values fitness, mobility and the beauty of the outdoors. Others are beginning to catch on to Roanoke’s commitment to encouraging the love of the outdoors: In 2013, Roanoke was awarded the distinction of “Best Trail Town” by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine.


Read the rest of the story at this link.