Reporter: Parker Slaybaugh
Roanoke, VA- A weekend of festivities in downtown Roanoke continued Saturday with the Blue Ridge Marathon.
Unlike last year, this year's marathon could not have asked for better weather. More than 1,200 runners took part in the races Saturday. There were several different races, including a one-mile course for the kids, and a double marathon, among others.
Runners of all ages came out, and the reasons why they chose to participate varied as much as their ages.
"Just feeling the wind on your face," said Roderick Plenge, a runner in the kids marathon.
"It's just kind of nice to hear the cheers," said Andrew Kirk, the winner of the half-marathon.
"It tells you a lot about yourself," said Joshua Finger, the winner of the double marathon.
"I just like running," said Karsten Brown, a marathon runner.
Karsten Brown won this year's full marathon, but this wasn't his first race, or even his first win. He runs more than 100 miles per week. Even after all his marathons, Brown says The Blue Ridge Marathon is unique.
"This is a kind of course where if you go out to hard you really pay in the end," said Brown.
Runners say this is one of the toughest courses in America, because of the three mountains the course winds through. In fact, last year one man almost didn't survive the climb.
"Last year I was 100 yards from the finish line and I went into full cardiac arrest," said Ed Deitch.
Deitch's heart stopped beating. After CPR and two shocks to his heart, Deitch began breathing again. He was rushed to the hospital, where doctors found two completely blocked arteries in his heart.
"Two days later I woke up in the hospital wondering what had happened," said Deitch.
Saturday, a year after the traumatic experience, Deitch finished what he began. But he did have to promise his wife he'd take it easy. After everything he has been through he still offers this advice:
"Appreciate every minute of every day. Life is a gift," said Deitch.
Deitch said Saturday's race was a milestone for him in his recovery. He credits the Hospital, EMS workers, and a Good Samaritan who was in the crowd that day with saving his life. Even though his family was worried about him, he says it would not have been possible without their support.