One runner is battling the twists and turns of America's toughest road marathon and taking some of his best friends along for the ride.
Saturday marks Gary Adkins second Blue Ridge Marathon in Roanoke and while he had hoped to run it this year with some of the best of the best, he said there's no one else he'd rather have by his side than this special group of five.
Adkins said he had his eyes set on more than just finishing the race this year.
"It's a big deal having Bart Yasso, Frank Shorter and Bill Rodgers come to Roanoke," he said.
Adkins ran with running icons Shorter and Rodgers at the Virginia Ten Miler back in 1995 and has a picture to prove it.
"This isn't that big of a marathon, but it has a good reputation now,” he said. “For only being in its fourth year and to bring in the two biggest names in the sport of running is a big deal."
Adkins finished seconds behind the big name athletes at the Ten Miler.
Years later, Adkins heard they would step into Roanoke's most rugged race. He immediately knew he wanted to be right by their side for a second time and that’s why he entered the marathon's "Run with Legends" contest for a chance but came up short.
"So what I decided to do instead of being bummed I decided to get a team together,” he said.
Through training for the marathon and voting for the contest, Adkins said his team has had his back every step of the way. While they may not be some of the best runners, they are his best friends.
Adkins said after the events at the Boston Marathon, there's no one else that he'd rather have by his side during this race, and future ones, than some of his best buddies.
"I'm kind of retired from marathoning, although I've retired two or three times, so I may run again,” he said. “I'm more likely to run another one than to not." His 5-person relay team includes his wife and three friends.