Roanoke Parks and Recreation’s mission is to build a welcoming community through play, and it appears to be working. In June 2020, Roanoke will welcome the Ironman 70.3 triathlon right here in the Valley.
This race is not for the faint of heart—participants will swim 1.2 miles, bike 56 miles, and run 13.1 miles on the City’s greenway system. Many agencies worked to bring this international event to our region, but we are extremely proud of the part we play in making Roanoke a desirable location.
The immediate impact of park and recreation facilities can be easy to see—runners on the greenway, families at the pool, children playing soccer. Just as important, but not as apparent, is the ripple effect that comes from good park planning and creative programming—a livable community and a bolstered local economy. According to Visit Virginia’s Blue Ridge, the Ironman triathlon will bring $9.2 million annually into the region’s economy. Not only that, but this international race will place our region on the sports map. And because race officials estimate that approximately 92 percent of the racers will not be locals, a brand new audience will lay eyes on the Star City.
For years now, the department and other agencies have been working to brand Roanoke as an outdoor destination. Roanoke Parks and Recreation has built and maintains over 93 miles of paved and natural-surface trail; this trail system helped the region earn the International Mountain Biking Association Silver-Level Ride Center designation. Events like our Wednesday Night Disco Races and the Go Outside Festival have helped earn us the reputation as an active, outdoor community. These designations and awards influenced race organizers’ decision to choose our region.
Our goal is to provide best-in-class facilities and programming for our citizens, but time and again we see how important these amenities are on a larger scale. Yes, you can ride your bike, take a tap dance class, or sign your child up for baseball. But we hope our work also leads to more businesses choosing Roanoke, more employment opportunities, and more incredible events, like the Ironman 70.3, coming to Virginia’s Blue Ridge.
It took a village (quite literally) to bring this internationally recognized event to our region, and we’re extremely proud of our role in that. So, welcome racers! We look forward to you all seeing how fun it is to play Roanoke.