Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Run a very hilly 26.2 (for free, perhaps)

If you're tired of running "ordinary" marathons, if you'd prefer a rigorous test of fitness and magnificent mountain views, the National College Blue Ridge Marathon on the parkway may be just the race you're looking for.

This event, now in its second year, will start and finish in downtown Roanoke, Va. (about three hours north of Charlotte) on Saturday, April 16, 2011. The course boasts 3,620 feet of total elevation gain and 7,234 feet of total elevation change and has been dubbed "America's Toughest Road Marathon"; for comparison's sake, the rigorous Grandfather Mountain Marathon -- a point-to-point race -- has 2,884 feet of climbing and 1,847 feet of downhill.

For more on this unique spring marathon, watch this video:

Registration for the Blue Ridge Marathon is currently $80 through the end of the year. There's also a half-marathon that is now $65 to enter. Proceeds from the race will go to Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

For the second year in a row, readers of this blog can enter to win one free Blue Ridge Marathon registration courtesy of the Roanoke Regional Partnership. Just e-mail me at tjanes@charlotteobserver.com and explain in 50 words or less why a challenge like this appeals to you. Please put "Blue Ridge Marathon" in the subject line, and be sure to include your name, age, city of residence. Deadline is 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 19. Good luck!