While I am not a fan of Las Vegas during the day, when the sun sets, the strip becomes a completely different place. I walked across the bridge connecting the MGM Grand to the New York hotel. My eyes were focused on the marathon corrals in place, ready to run. Soon, I joined them, focusing on the DJ and the helicopters overhead, a reminder of October’s tragic event.
As a new corral was released, I slowly inched forward towards the start line. As I was about to start, the leaders appeared on the other side of Las Vegas Boulevard, a steady battle to see who could maintain power, strength, eventually being the victor to break the tape.
The course led me towards Mandalay Bay. For the first couple of miles, the road was rough and dark, with just enough light to illuminate the potholes.
I came up on the infamous Las Vegas sign, deciding not to stop for a picture but a blurry, mid-run capture would have to do! I loved the turn around at the 2 mile mark. As the sky grew darker and inky, the Strip was irradiating radiant colors, coaxing the runners closer.
As I passed the airport, my legs were carrying me further down the Strip. I came upon the start and corrals were still being released. The vibrance to my left and right and from what I could see ahead helped me to find a comfortable pace and stay on it. I was just reaching the stretch of live bands performing on course! This is what Rock n’ Roll is known for and it was fun to see musicians playing tribute to Kiss and covering songs both new and loved.
As I was nearing the end of the Strip, the energy changed slightly. I had hit the end of hotels and casinos and found myself in a more dreary area that was home to some pawn shops. The course picked up again once I hit the section of wedding chapels! These are a kick! Fake flowers and huge animatronic Elvis’ dancing on signs really takes the mind off the distance. Rock n’ Roll even offers a run through wedding option, which many couples take advantage of each year!
At mile 8, volunteers were handing out SIS gel. I’m not sure if it was because I was in the middle of the road and it was dark, but I totally missed seeing the volunteers handing out the gels until I had passed them.
Nearing the north end of the Strip, I was flying towards the Downtown area and Arts district. Complete with neon signs and lots of color, I made a little loop onto Fremont St, enjoying the view before it was a straight shot to the finish.
Whenever I am within a few miles of the finish, I always try to spy landmarks and configure my proximity. While there were mile markers on the course, they weren’t as prominant as they are in other races. I hit the Stratosphere and knew that the Mirage volcano was not too far behind.
Once again, I felt the lights from the city illuminating the road and energy on course, as if each bulb had its own cowbell. A race announcer was floating above the finish, hoisted by a balloon as she cheered on the incoming runners.
I crossed the finish a minute faster than my previous PR at Urban Cow in October. As good as I felt for the whole race, I was able to push hard and was hoping for more than a minute improvement.
I collected my spinning die medal and picked up some water, pringles, Oatmega bar, chocolate milk and Pocky sticks . I took a minute to replenish my body with some protein and salt! I didn’t get my ID checked at the expo, so without a wristband, I was not able to get a beer at the finish.
As I slowly made my way down the strip towards my hotel, I kept stopping at medical tents asking for a mylar blanket. Each one told me to keep going down until I finally hit the last one which did not possess any either. While the race was warmer than some years, this is still something I like to see at finish lines. When will I learn my lesson to pack a jacket in bag check?
With the finish line location near the Bellagio, I had a little walk down the strip. The other side of the boulevard had not yet been opened to traffic so I was able to easily cross and make my way back towards the south end of the Strip.
This race has been on my bucket list for a couple years now and let me tell you, it did not disappoint. With contagious energy, the run felt fun and effortless. I wish the beginning of the course was able to offer more lighting for runners and the tables of gel made more easily visible and accessible. Neither of these are deal breakers, just small things noticed.
I had a blast catching up with old friends, eating delicious food and accumulating some miles. The Strip is definitely one of my favorite victory lap spots to date! I hope to visit again in 2018.