With roughly 2,500 runners expected for Saturday’s Blue Ridge Marathon, local shops and restaurants have started seeing a big boost in business.
Performers were preparing and vendors were setting up shop Friday in Elmwood Park ahead of a weekend of marathon-racing and music. The Down by Downtown Music Festival is tied in with the marathon, according to organizers.
“Between both of the breweries – Parkway and Ballast Point – we’ve brought over a hundred kegs,” said Seth Harrison, regional sales manager of Ballast Point Brewing Co. “Obviously there’ll be a lot of people for the marathon, but I think Lotus will bring a great crowd.”
With runners getting ready for the Blue Ridge Marathon, downtown businesses we spoke with said they have already noticed a boost.
“It’s been pretty chaotic, but we like that,” said Hayley Assenet, who works at Bayou Snowballs. “So the marathon tomorrow – we’re expecting a lot of people.”
“We’re expecting people from 40 different states and about ten different countries kind of descending upon Roanoke for this weekend,” said Pete Eshelman, outdoor branding director for the Roanoke Regional Partnership.
The marathon is expected to attract around 10,000 people to the Roanoke Valley, Eshelman said.
And they’re not just running – they’re also spending money. The marathon has about a $500,000 economic impact, he added.
“People are traveling, so when you travel, they want to eat in the restaurants, they want to go out and buy stuff,” Eshelman said. “And so typically we hear from a lot of downtown retailers that have one of the best days of the year on this weekend.”
The race kicks off Saturday morning at 7:35 a.m. The Down by Downtown Music Festival continues through Saturday at several venues across downtown Roanoke.