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Get Outside Weekend Update April 24-26

Festivals, Events, & Outings

Thursday, April 23

Friday, April 24

Saturday, April 25

Sunday, April 26

Monday, April 27

Tuesday, April 28

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Pete’s Pick: A Giant Shout Out to Everyone Who Came Out for the Blue Ridge Marathon

Thank you, Roanoke.

Thank you to the runners, families, friends, volunteers, businesses and community members who came out and showed support for the Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon last weekend. Our great network of community support is what makes this great event possible.

But the support does not end when the runners cross the finish line, there are plenty of other events all around the Roanoke Region that need your help every day. Consider signing up to volunteer at another event such as the Bootlegger 5K this weekend.

The evening race is Friday at Explore Park and could use a few more volunteers. It’ll take just a few hours and you will feel great. Sign up for a shift today.

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Change Your Perspective

Ride Solutions launched the “Change Your Perspective” initiative this week, a program aimed at helping all commuters learn to share the roadway.

From the program: “Bicycling is an increasingly important part of the way we get around. Many of us choose to ride to work, to the store, or to visit friends instead of driving. We ride to save money, we ride for health, or we ride just because, frankly, it’s more fun than being behind the wheel. We ride everything from old beach cruisers we’ve had stored in our garages, to state-of-the-art road bikes that weigh less than a small dog.”

The program includes a fun poster series – download them or look for the artwork around town – and tools for planning a safer commute with bike maps and routes. The posters and campaign are designed to bring attention to how vulnerable cyclists can feel on the road and the importance of paying attention whether you are in a car or bike.

Change Your Perspective is an important campaign in the Roanoke Region with the number of bike commuters increasing and the impact it has on the overall economy. Every mile ridden is a mile of gas saved, and given every dollar spent on a gallon of gas takes 90 cents from our economy and local businesses, bike-friendly streets are an important part of keep dollars here at home.

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Paddling Film Festival Roadshow Comes to Town

It’s back! The National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow returns to Hollins University for a fifth straight year this week and will showcase some of the best films from the festival.

Plus professional kayaker Chris Gragtmans will be here for the event. Gragtmans is one of the most respected names in whitewater paddling. The event is sponsored by Hollins Outdoors, a program that combines adventure, education, self-awareness, and leadership.

The annual festival hosts a competition to select the best paddling sport videos and images each year, such as the image seen here: “Colorado Boof” by Samantha Ruppely, the 2015 still photo winner. The festival kicks off in Kentucky and then hits the road for events such as the one this week.

National Paddling Film Festival Roadshow

  • When: Friday, April 24 at 6 p.m.
  • Where: Frances Niederer Auditorium, Hollins University
  • Tickets: $10
  • RSVP: On Facebook
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Help Roanoke In Best Towns of 2015 Voting

Roanoke Outside Best Towns 2015 list

Let’s work together to help the rest of America learn what we already know – that we live in one of the best towns around. All it takes is a great photo and Instagram account.

The Best Towns tournament is sponsored by Outside Magazine and the voting window is short (now through April 30). The top four towns will be added to the magazine’s picks in the bracket-style competition. And Roanoke needs to be on that list!

Here’s how you can help:

  • Post your best images of the Roanoke Region on Instagram and use the hashtag #BestTowns2015 AND #RoanokeOutside on each entry. Get started by grabbing the image above and posting it to your Instagram account.
  • Include "Roanoke, VA" in the description. 
  • Enter with every great photo you have. The number of photos matter.
  • Encourage your followers to like the images – it counts in the voting. You can also vote for our images and follow roanoke_outside on Instagram.
  • Search for #RoanokeOutside and like all the photos. The number of likes each photo gets matters.

Go enter. Time is running out!

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Happy Earth Day

Today marks the 45th worldwide Earth Day celebration. By showing support for environmental protection, you are joining people from nearly 200 countries in support of our planet.

But the festivities don’t end today. Roanoke’s Earth Day Festival is scheduled for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Wasena Park.  Come out and celebrate with music, activities for the kids, exhibits, green demos, crafts and food. The event is free to attend.

One of the featured events includes the Recycled Racer Derby. Use your best recycled or repurposed materials to create an awesome ride and compete against others in the run race.

Earth Day Roanoke has been a grassroots festival organized by volunteers and environmental groups from the Blue Ridge since 1990. The number of environmental and community service groups has increased each year. Individuals and organizations share their work to educate festival attendees and other participants alike to practice new healthy habits for the earth and generations to come.

Creative Commons photo by NASA.
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Roanoke Featured as a Top 10 US Mountain Biking Destination

Roanoke was featured as one of the ten best destinations for a weekend mountain bike getaway by  Ranking the Roanoke Region third on the list of weekend mountain biking getaways, the site mentions that only a truly dedicated rider could ever hit all the trails Roanoke has to offer on a 3-day trip.  

The article features Carvins Cove with over 60 miles of trail, Dragon's Back, and Mill Mountain's system of trails.  

Roanoke is once again making a name for itself in the outdoor industry.  And the word is getting out about all the great things Roanoke has to offer.  Visit this page to learn more about Roanoke's mountain bike offerings.

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Get Outside Weekend Update April 17-19

Festivals, Events, & Outings

Thursday, April 16

Friday, April 17

Saturday, April 18

Sunday, April 19

Monday, April 20

Tuesday, April 21

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Finish the Weekend at DxDT Music Festival

Even if you aren’t running in this weekend’s events, you can still take part in the celebration. The Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, Half Marathon and Anthem Star 10K coincides with the biggest music festival in Roanoke – Down by Downtown.

Friday night come out for a free concert by MarchFourth! The Portland-based lively and engaging musical and entertainment act is sure to draw attention. This 20-person troop will wow you with a show that takes you through the deepest grooves of American funk, rock and jazz.

marchfourth! concert roanoke

  • When: Friday, April 17 at 7 p.m. (gates open at 6 p.m.). Come mingle with Roanoke Mountain Adventures & win prizes!
  • Where:  Elmwood Park Amphitheater
  • Cost:  FREE

And make sure to come back to Elmwood Park on Saturday for the headliner of the weekend – Big Head Todd and the Monsters. The national touring act with roots in Colorado, is known for their spirited live show and chart topping songs like “Bittersweet,” “Broken Hearted Savior,” and “Circle.” (You will need a ticket for this one.) And as the runners cross the finish line on Saturday, hang out for some free entertainment from Brian and Melissa Mesko (starting at 9 a.m.), GroovaScape (11 a.m.) and Riverbank Ramblers (1 p.m.).

big head todd concert roanoke

  • When: Saturday, April 18 at 6:30pm (gates at 5 p.m.)
  • Where: Elmwood Park Amphitheater
  • Cost: $22 for non-runners (get tickers here)
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It Takes a Community to Put on a Marathon

marathon runners roanoke

The thrill of finishing “America’s Toughest Road Marathon” isn’t only in the pounding of feet along 26.2 miles of roadway. It’s in the pounding of hearts for every member of this community that puts in the effort to make this race an annual success. This weekend runners from all over the world – 39 states and four countries – will descend upon Roanoke for the sixth annual Foot Levelers Blue Ridge Marathon, Half Marathon, and Anthem Star 10K. And while the race is a challenge and carries importance for every runner, it is also a vital and growing part of our community narrative.  

People don’t often equate running to dollars, but that’s exactly what the Roanoke Regional Partnership and Roanoke Outside Foundation saw when we decided to get into the marathon business. The region needed a signature event that would attract people from beyond our state lines and showcase the vibrant urban core, the mountains, the rivers, and how they blend seamlessly together. And when the first runners stepped to the start line in 2010, Roanoke’s journey to becoming a top outdoor community had begun.

The Blue Ridge Marathon is part of the reason Roanoke has been honored as a top mountain town and earned kudos in publications such as Conde Nast Traveler, Runners World, Running Times, Women’s Running, Competitor, and Daily Burn. But it’s the shear difficulty and beauty of the course that landed it on the bucket lists of many runners as well as its place on The Weather Channel’s list of the world’s 15 toughest marathons.

marathon finish line roanoke

Gaining national exposure and giving people a reason to come experience the Roanoke Region are just two of the impacts the Blue Ridge Marathon has had on our community. Another impact comes in the form of tourism dollars as the race becomes a destination event. Our bucket-list race attracts runners, their families, and friends, all of whom spend money on fuel, meals, lodging, miscellaneous retail purchases and admissions. In 2014, the race generated a direct economic impact of just above $521,000 and over the course of five years has contributed more than $2.1 million to the local economy and donated $65,000 to local charities.

But there’s an even greater impact that we feel throughout the region every day as well. The Blue Ridge Marathon, GO Outside Festival, 1,000 miles of trails, urban greenways, blueways, live music scene, and our growing beer culture are all pieces that contribute to the growing reputation of our outdoor town. It’s these little pieces, that when combined, are making Roanoke part of the conversations people are having about where they want to live, work, and play.

marathon volunteers

After every marathon runners take a third-party survey and, in addition to the 100 percent satisfaction rating, the friendliness of the volunteers is cited more often than anything. The Blue Ridge Marathon thrives on the support of community members like you. With more than 30 organizations and sponsors and 475 volunteers, people all over the region understand what this event means to our community.

Consider taking part in the marathon this year. We won’t ask that you run a single mile – unless you want to. But there are plenty of other ways to help.

marathon concert roanoke

  • Come out and cheer on the runners. Nothing makes getting through a tough race easier than seeing smiling faces and hearing plenty of encouragement along the way. Find a place along the course, grab your neighbors and a few lawn chairs and be ready to make some noise as the runners pass by. View course maps at
  • Serve as a race volunteer. Marathon officials still need volunteers to help work aid stations, serve as course marshals, help keep the course clean, greet runners at the finish line and more. Volunteer at
  • Come out and enjoy all the pre- and post-race music and festivities. The Down by Downtown Music Festival will hold a free concert featuring MarchFourth!, a 20-member music and performance art troupe, at the Elmwood Amphitheater on Friday, April 17. Following the marathon on April 18, Big Head Todd and the Monsters will perform at the amphitheater. Get all the details at

When you think about all of these things, it’s no wonder that the Blue Ridge Marathon has been featured nationally. It’s an exciting event and time for the Roanoke Region and something every member of this community can take part in and be proud of.

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