First, a short video of my finish and how happy I was to be done:
I am Rock Legend:
I have finished the goal I set out to accomplish almost 2 years ago. I have ran 7 Rock ‘n’ Roll series events in one calendar year and have earned my Rock Legend heavy medal. I have a whole separate post planned for babbling on about how this endeavor and running has shaped my life in the past year but I will spare you that for now. Let’s talk about the race.
Some relevant race details:
- 8,000 Full Marathon participants registered
- 38,000 Half Marathon participants registered
- Full Marathon Start @ 4:00 PM (51 degrees)
- Half Marathon Start @ 5:30 PM (46 degrees, post sundown)
- At least 36 start corrals
- It started raining at some point which was just cruel of mother nature
1st Person Account of RNR Las Vegas 2011 Half Marathon:
Okay, so there were some issues with the event. For example, volunteers were allowing people to change their t-shirt sizes at the t-shirt pick up. This is normally a no-no as you register for your shirt size and event organizers plan accordingly. They order them at least 6 months in advance of the event so they have to make an educated guess on how many more they will need in certain sizes and they’ll never be 100% accurate. Therefore, if you walk up at the expo and realize the shirt is going to be to big or too small, wait until after the race when everyone has picked up their shirts, and try to exchange sizes at the info booth.
Yes, it was crowded like crazy. I expected that after San Antonio’s 30K+ and heard that Las Vegas was going to be even bigger. The Expo was a crowded mess (it didn’t help that the Country Christmas convention had lost cowboys and santas wandering in as well to see what the hubbub was about) and so was the start area and the course and the finish area. It’s not like being crowded is necessarily a bad thing but I don’t particularly enjoy it and instead of shopping around like I had planned, I just left.
That being said, I did have a fantastic time. The start line with live music and the light show was really fun. It gave a certain energy to the event that was unique. The glowing lights of the strip were cooler than seeing the buildings during the day. I was in corral 17, so I feel lucky that they were still implementing the wave start when I crossed the start line to help break up the crowds. I believe we crossed the start line at about 5:50 pm.
Side Note: I heard that they abandon the wave start at some point and just let the masses of thousands of runners start moving. MISTAKE! Maybe they were worried about time but I feel like a lot of negative comments I’ve heard could’ve been prevented if they had kept enforcing the wave starts.
I ran easy for the first 5 miles with one stop to loosen my shoe laces (left shoe tied too tight), and did have to do a lot of dodging and weaving but most people were polite or apologetic about any bumping or brushing (which there was a lot of). The temperature was actually quite perfect for me, even though I was concerned about it beforehand. A LOT better than 2009′s morning race in the 30′s. That was torture.
At some point I noticed that there were cones on the road to separate a lane for the full marathoners. They had started at 4:00 PM and headed out to nowheresville for their first half (red line on the map) before returning to the strip and running with the half marathoners (purple line) who had started at 5:30 PM. So it was 8,000 full runners against 38,000 halfers and the full runners got blocked. AND the part of the road sectioned off for full marathoners was the left side with the camber, adding injury to insult. That didn’t really matter though, because the cones got kicked away and no one left room for the full marathoners. I felt terrible for them. At their mile 20 they were dodging and weaving halfers who were twice as slow as they were and not using proper race etiquette anyway.
Tired legs in the last 3 miles plus over crowding on the course caused me to stop for some walk breaks. It was around this time that I got pushed out of the way by some tall chic in a pink top. I think she even pushed off to propel herself a little. WTF? She was NOT moving that fast. Whatever. I have a whole rant on race etiquette on the event’s facebook page and will dedicate a post to the importance of race etiquette because of what I witnessed out there.
It was cool to see the water show at the Bellagio and the volcano. I wish they would’ve had those going on for the entire time so that everyone could’ve seen that during their run, but that would probably cost even more than it already does.
At the finish, I couldn’t even make it to the second timing strip without having to stop due to the mass of people. This was even worse than Nike or San Antonio. Literally three strides after the finish line I was stuck standing and shuffling in the cold with my body cooling off rapidly. That sucked. Volunteers weren’t handing out medals so much as they were just standing behind the medal “tree” for safety as finishers crowded in to grab at what they could. I think the teenage volunteers were intimidated by the crowds and kind of stopped functioning. Boxes of water bottles or cytomax couldn’t be opened fast enough to keep the tables full. Finishers were unwrapping 12 packs that were stacked on the side and helping themselves. It was a madhouse. I even picked up one of those space blankets off the ground only to discover that a medal fell out of it! Someone had either lost it or tossed it or who knows what! I turned it in to the info table.
I wrapped up the night with some good friends, gigantic nachos, a taco salad and a margarita! I ate a lot of things this weekend that I my body just isn’t used to anymore. So while greed and lust didn’t get me in sin city, gluttony sure did. Anyway, we ate and shared stories of our race experiences and I ended up staying up way past midnight, which I haven’t done in a long time. My sleeping schedule is SO out of whack right now but I’m getting back to normal….
2nd/3rd person account/ The things one hears these days:
I have friends who ran this race that got two-hand-shoved in the back on the course and had someone try to pull their thermal blanket out of their hand! Come on people.
I’ve heard horrific tales of mob-like mentality and crowd-crushing inside Mandalay Bay by the Shark Reef and the gear check area. Apparently people were fainting and throwing up and it was more than the medical volunteers could handle.
Side Note: I DID see people drinking on the course. I wonder if that had anything to do with them throw up at the finish…. I did see Med Staff walking around asking people if they were okay. One came up to me when I was sitting on the floor in the gear check area (as seen in video) and asked if we were alright. So they were trying to be proactive about identifying people in need.
I’ve also heard that volunteers took some race medals for themselves. I know that it’s hard to coordinate and control volunteers, especially when some of them are high school kids, but this is theft and causes paying participants to be upset with the event organizers for not getting their medals. I hope that it’s dealt with in such a way that next year’s volunteers wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.
I really wanted to love this event and I kind of did… mostly. The worst part about it for me was the horrific behavior of my fellow runners/walkers. Unfortunately, an event that tries to be this HUGE and is this sensationalized is drawing in folks who have probably never trained for a half, let alone a full, and there is going to be a significant amount of ill-prepared, ill-informed participants who make the experience difficult and unsavory for everyone around them.
I hear they want to increase the field to 60,000 runners or more next year. The event directors at Competitor Group have definitely heard the angry cries of the masses about all the things that went down at this event. I do expect they will make some major adjustments next year, especially since this event is WILDLY LUCRATIVE for the crippled Las Vegas economy AND for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series. They will have to invest more time and effort into the details if next year is going to be success for the running community. I believe they will and look forward to hearing about the changes they plan on making.