Here is my slightly late race review of the RnR marathon….
This was the inagaural RnR Vegas marathon and the first time in Vegas marathon history that both lanes of the Strip were closed. More than 27,600 runners participated, 20,000 in the half and over 7,000 in the full including 300+ running “Elvi” and 85 couples that got married at mile 3. The race benefited the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
The expo was held at the Mandalay Bay where the start and finish were. The expo was huge. I’m not a big expo person myself, but this one had everything a runner could possibly want. A pink rhinestone Got Garmin thong? check. Just kidding, I made that up. But there was everything here, lots of RnR products as well as general running stuff and things that seemingly have nothing to do with running, like Mahatma rice.
Getting my packet was easy, not much of a line considering how many people were there. Some booths gave out samples of food and drink, but not enough of them.
Here’s a tip, race directors, to get people into the expo and spend money: Make it mandatory that every booth has to give out stuff. And if they don’t have a food product, like Garmin, have a $10 gift card drawing every half hour. People want free stuff! Or at least the chance to win stuff.
Ok now that I’ve dispensed my daily allotment of unwarranted advice, we can move on.
There was an ok amount of free goodies including a gingerbread flavored GU, but really, I expected something a little better, not sure what though.
The race started at 6:15 am, and all the big hotels had free shuttles to the start. I got on a shuttle at the Wynn Encore at 4:45am and was one of the first people on so no wait at all. The Wynn’s shuttles were those super nice coaches that famous people travel in. or at least I like to think so. I got to the race plenty early, probably too early, but on the plus side, I didn’t have to wait for a porta potty. There were tons of them so very short lines. The corrals were clearly marked, easy to get into, no problems even though there were a lot of runners. I was in corral 8 out of 28 and it still took 14 minutes before I crossed the start line.
Some sweet perks:
- There were bands playing at 5am at the start.
- Fireworks capped off the start of the race; it was still dark so that was really fun.
- The corrals were set up so the spectators could stand right beside them; this was nice because your friend/spouse/random stranger could hold your warmups, hand warmers, whatever else you were packin’.
As I said, this was the first time that both lanes of the Strip were closed down for a race so we had a lot of room to run with multiple lanes. At the start of the race we looped around the infamous Las Vegas sign; I had never seen it before so I was all jacked up on that.
The first 10 miles were on the Strip, and these were fun and fast miles. There were alot of spectators and you passed all the big hotels. At mile 10 the marathoners split from the halfers and took a right out towards the desert while the halfers headed back down the Strip to the finish line. Miles 10-19 were out in residential areas and were honestly, very boring. At 19.5 you turned around and headed back towards the Strip and the Mandalay. You can see it in the distance which was a huge mental boost. The course is very FLAT and fast. If you’re looking for a flat course, this is it. If you’re looking for anything else flat, that’s not my specialty.
I think RnR did a great job at race support. I didn’t carry a water bottle and was never thirsty. Of course, the temp was in the 30′s…. They had water and Cytomax about every 1.5 miles. There were plenty of volunteers handing out water so you didn’t really have to slow down too much. Some races really bottleneck at the water stations and this never happened here. I grabbed a drink at every single station and didn’t have any problems.
At mile 9 and about 17 they handed out gels. There were GU’s as well as Roctanes. I thought it was cool that they had people handing them out as well as TABLES and TABLES loaded with them so if you wanted to grab 3, you could. Or you could pick through the flavors if you wanted. Or pick your nose, whatever.
I believe there was a band playing at every mile as well as groups of cheerleaders, but the spectators were definitely fewer as you got further away from the start.
RnR always has heavy duty metals which is nice because you can get some weight lifting in with your cardio. The half marathoners didn’t have the gold on them is what the word on the street was. They were giving out heat blankets as soon as you crossed the finish and these were definitely needed because it was still chilly even though it was sunny around 10am.
The post-race snacks were kinda standard: bagels, oranges, bananas, small bags of chips, water and Cytomax. I didn’t take anything but that’s what I scoped out.
There were shuttles at Mandalay to take runners back to their hotels but instead of waiting, we took the free tram to Excalibur and then got a taxi back to our hotel which worked out well.
I think this is a great race and don’t have too many complaints, and I’ll probably do it next year. Remember that it’s cold, about 32 degrees at the start, but Las Vegas makes a great destination race even in the winter. It’s on the pricier side… for next year’s race on December 5, 2010, BOTH the half and full marathon cost $135. This is probably to encourage more people to run the full. If you’re going to sign up, you can normally find a $10 off promo code if you do a little googling around.
For how big it is, the race is well-run and well-organized. I never had to wait in line for a long time for anything, and it’s a fun race. Where else are you gonna see fireworks, Elvis and people walking OUT of clubs at 6am?
- The full marathon course gets a little boring. This was my first full so maybe all courses do, I don’t know. And I know running 5 miles up and down the Strip 47 times would be ultra lame too, but I wish they could somehow make parts of the course more exciting.
- I don’t have anything else negative to say except that for the entry price, the post-race eats should be a little better, something more than just the standard.
- Wear throwaway clothes or have someone at the start with you to take them. Pants and top and gloves and maybe a hat. I didn’t have gloves and for the first 2 miles I actually worried that my hands might be hypothermic. Next year I’ll buy supercheap or goodwill gloves and throw them off as I run.
- Stay at the Mandalay Bay the night before the race. It would make everything easier and you wouldn’t have to deal with the shuttles. Plus you could stay in the warmth of your own room (and toilet) longer. The shuttle system was fine at our hotel but it definitely would have been nicer to walk out the door and be at the starting line.
- Arrive Saturday to get your race packet and focus on the race. Run Sunday morning and then stay until Tuesday (if you can) to enjoy Vegas without all the running worries… Am I drinking enough water? Am I resting my legs? Am I going to bed early enough? Are my bowel movements done and over? This is what we did and it worked out great so I could enjoy my mini vacay without the race in the back of my mind because it was already over. Plus, hotels are a lot cheaper during the week.