Julia Boas Named Director of Marketing

Julia Boas has been named director of marketing for the Roanoke Regional Partnership. Boas has worked the last seven years as the director of events and events marketing at the Roanoke Outside Foundation, a non-profit created by the Roanoke Regional Partnership in 2013.

“Boas has an amazing ability to do a lot with very little and does not take no for an answer. She is able to leverage partnerships to create high-caliber events that exceed expectations,” said Pete Eshelman, director of outdoor branding for the Roanoke Regional Partnership and director of the foundation. “She’s an incredibly hard worker, often remaining in the shadows while others receive credit for her efforts. She’s all about making the Roanoke Region a better place, and her capacity to organize a mountain of details under extreme pressure will serve her well in any position.”

“Julia’s communications and marketing expertise has served the Roanoke Outside Foundation well, resulting in a high level of growth in the foundation’s events,” said John Hull, executive director of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. “I am excited to continue working with Julia as she transfers her passion, energy and expertise toward marketing strategies aimed at attracting jobs, investment and new residents to the Roanoke Region of Virginia.”

Under her leadership, the Blue Ridge Marathon was built into an internationally recognized event with a $6.9 million economic impact to date and 10 to 15 percent increased participation every year (pre-COVID). GO Outside Festival became a national event, attracting top outdoor manufacturers and retailers, and growing in attendance from 15,000 to 40,000. Go Cross Cyclocross Race, in only three years, became a UCI event putting Roanoke on the international cycling map attracting professional athletes from around the world. Each event has increased in overall attendance, athlete registrations and economic impact every year under her management.

“We’ve been able to change the narrative of what it means to be a ‘Roanoker’ both within our own community and on a national level.” says Boas. “The outdoors is now one of the number one things that people associate with the region…events like the Marathon and GO Fest were created as tools to tell that story. I’m excited to take these strategies and put them toward our overall mission at the Roanoke Regional Partnership.”

In this role, she will continue to develop the talent attraction and retention brand Get2KnowNoke and harness Roanoke Outside’s livability narrative to increase visibility and build an economic sector in outdoor recreation, outdoor business, and adventure tourism. Boas will also work on strategic communication plans focusing on growth in established target sectors and assisting with development of fledging sectors such as innovation, technology and life sciences in the Roanoke Region.

Prior to working for Roanoke Outside, Boas worked in the outdoor industry for almost a decade with experience guiding adventure excursions, planning outdoor related events, promoting, management and customer service. She holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from the University of South Carolina. She was honored with the Roanoker Magazine 40 under 40 distinction in 2020 and selected by Virginia Business as one of the 100 Virginians to Meet in 2020.  

The Roanoke Regional Partnership, founded in 1983, is the public-private economic development marketing and strategy organization supported by Alleghany, Botetourt, Franklin, and Roanoke Counties, the cities of Covington, Roanoke, and Salem, and the town of Vinton as well as more than 200 businesses. The organization has worked with its partners to create more than 19,000 primary jobs and $19 billion in investment by attracting companies such as Orvis, Altec, McAirlaids, Bimbo Bakeries, Cardinal Glass, Balchem, Eldor, Mack Trucks, Traditional Medicinals, Constellation Brands and others to the region.

Big Changes Draw Big Crowds to 2014 Blue Ridge Marathon

Blue Ridge Marathon Continues Growth, Success

Blue Ridge Marathon runnersCloudless skies and cool temperatures greeted runners in downtown Roanoke on Saturday morning for the fifth running of the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon. This year’s race proved to be bigger and better than ever, continuing the success of “America’s Toughest Road Marathon.”

The Roanoke Region’s showcase running event lived up to the billing in 2014, with a larger venue, larger crowds, and more runners than ever.

Big Changes, Big Crowds

The 2014 Blue Ridge Marathon was tougher than ever. A course modification upped the elevation change to nearly 7,500 feet for the full marathon and more than 3,600 feet for the half marathon, but that did not stop nearly 2,000 runners from accepting the challenge. Also new this year was the addition of the Anthem StarK 10K run which took racers up to the Mill Mountain Star and back, giving runners a shorter race option. The half marathon proved to be the most popular race option with over 750 finishers.

Not all changes had to do with the course however. The start/finish line was located at the newly renovated Elmwood Park, giving the large crowds a perfect staging area for pre- and post-race activities. Live music, vendors, a beer garden, and hundreds of cheering fans greeted runners as they crossed the finish line and received their food and medals. The park took on a party atmosphere as more and more racers made their way through the corral and into the amphitheater to stretch their legs and cash in their complimentary beer ticket. It may have only been 10 a.m. but they certainly deserved a cold one from sponsors Parkway Brewing or Starr Hill, who were both pouring pints all day.

The combination of near-perfect weather and the new venue created a vibrant atmosphere at Elmwood.

“The timing couldn’t have been better, the newly renovated Elmwood Park opened up and it was the perfect time to move the finish line, have it here, showcase this community, showcase this park, and it was spectacular,” Roanoke Regiona Partnership Director of Outdoor Branding and Race Director Pete Eshelman told race sponsor WDBJ-7 following the event.

Local Support, Worldwide Reach

The 2014 race drew competitors, fans, and spectators from over 40 states across the U.S. and five countries across the world, many being exposed to the beauty of the Roanoke Region for the first time. Hundreds flooded the finishing area to cheer racers through the finish line, and even more lined the course to encourage runners to get to the top of the next hill, not to mention the army of volunteers manning the course. The community support goes a long way toward creating an inviting atmosphere that runners enjoy and will keep them coming back, says Catherine Fox with Virginia’s Blue Ridge.

“You’ve got people coming here to experience [the race], figure out why it is the toughest road marathon and they’re here discovering that,” she said. “When you have people from 40 different states, several countries, as far away as Hawaii and Alaska, they’re taking that message back and that message is what brings people here.”

The Roanoke Regional Partnership created the Blue Ridge Marathon to showcase the region’s commitment to making outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship a core component of the Roanoke Region lifestyle. Over the first four years, the marathon has generated over $1.5 million for the local economy, including nearly $500,000 in 2013 alone. 

From Day to Night

Staging the event at Elmwood Park not only give the day a festival-type atmosphere, it also allowed for a new way to cap the marathon. The race-day festivities transitioned seamlessly into the Down by Downtown Music Festival headliner G. Love & Special Sauce, who played a show at Elmwood starting around 6 p.m. Racers could purchase a discounted concert ticket with their race bib, and many stuck around Saturday night to enjoy the show. Providing weekend-long entertainment for visitors and the community as a whole should prove to be a winning combination for the future.

All in all, the 2014 Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon was a huge success for the Roanoke Region, continuing to put the area’s natural beauty and outdoor community on display. 


Check out all the post-race action including photos, race comments and more on the Blue Ridge Marathon Facebook Page >>>

Race results can be found on the official Blue Ridge Marathon race website >>>

Photos of winners receiving their medals can be found on Flickr >>>

Check out all the coverage, including videos and interviews from WDBJ >>>

The Roanoke Regional Partnership would like to thank the following organizations for their support of the Blue Ridge Marathon: Foot Levelers, Anthem, WDBJ, Carilion Clinic, Fink’s Jewelers, Tag Heuer, Roanoke City, and Roanoke Parks and Recreation. See a full list of sponsors, volunteers, and community partners >>>