Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Vegas Half Marathon

Vive Las Vegas!!
Only in Vegas can you...
(1) watch 2 runners lose $2K at the roulette table before the race start (I hope they at least got a good time!)
(2) stop at a water station that smeels oddly of urine
(3) watch a wedding, and be able to congratulate several pairs of runners with "just married" signs on their backs
(4) watch a woman get chased down and handcuffed right in the middle of the race course
(5) run a little harder just to avoid getting high-fived by a lady stumbling through the course the wrong way reeking of alcohol (at 8AM, mind you)
(6) take a break and watch the Blue Man Group perform mid-race
(7) run alongside Elvis for 13.1 miles....

The Vegas Marathon is definitely an experience, however a few comments...
  • The course was very fast and flat with only 1 fairly insignificant incline around mile 6 or 7 (half marathon course just after the split from the full marathon)
  • Running the strip is interesting, but once you get past the Stratosphere, the rest of the course is very boring (at least the half, I can't speak for the full marathon route), weaving somewhat through local Vegas and then a very dead strip of pawn shops, bail bonds, gentleman's clubs, massage parlors, etc...
  • There was almost no organization at the start line. There were indicators for those looking to do a sub-3 hour or sub-4 hour marathon, but nothing after that, and with the large amount of people, there were walkers up front, 10 min/milers in the back.. just very mixed up
  • The Blue Man group was performing at about mile 2.5 and it was great to have them there, but a note to race organizers would be to set up some type of viewing coral for those who wish to stop and watch. People were just stopping and standing in the middle of the course.. even spectators were jumping in with their cameras to get a better view.
  • With only one exception, the water stations were all fully stocked. The one exception was around mile 9 where they ran out of power gels. Although, I couple of stations we had to pour our own since there weren't enough volunteers.
  • The half marathon and marathon split off around mile 6, and then rejoined around the half marathon mile 11 and the marathon mile 24. Well, needless to say, but the faster marathoners (the sub 3 hour group) were not pleased to be merged in with us slower half marathoners.. there was a lot of yelling, and I can see their frustration, however there was no direction for separation of the course -- at the finish line, half marathoners were directed to the left and full marathoners to the right (which is how we were when the merge started), but for the final 2.5 miles, runners were darting everywhere and running people down. A suggestion to the race organizers would be to put up some cones or signs so that the halfers know to stay to the left and the full marathoners to the right.
  • Interesting note is that this if the first race I've done when there was not one vehicle who seemed to care that the roads were closed. One car pulled over and asked an officer how he could get somewhere, and was very polite about it. Perhaps this was because most of the traffic there are shuttle busses and taxis.. and there didn't seem to be a lot of car ownership in the neighborhoods we went through.
  • Not many spectators at all, especially when we left the strip (which only accounted for the first 4.5 miles), although one fire department came out to cheer as we went past the station.
  • Nice finish line with lots of snacks and goodies.. even better if you stay at Mandalay Bay or Luxor and have just a short walk to your shower!

Overall, while it didn't get placed on my top 5 race list, it was definitely an experience and you do get some great discounts (i.e. half price tickets to Circue Du Soleil).