I am going to preface this by saying that a large majority of people were unhappy with this race for a number of reasons. You can read more about it based on the RnR Vegas Facebook page, but what it really came down to was numbers. In my opinion, this race grew too fast, too soon, resulting in some major issues that Competitor needs to address and fix if they plan on doing this kind of race again next year.
After getting back from visiting the Grand Canyon and the Hoover Dam (more on that tomorrow), I headed over to the race expo. Not much to really say here. I was able to get my bib and t-shirt fairly quickly. Once I got into the vendor area, however, it was very, very crowded. I can’t say I was all that surprised, because that will happen when there are 44,000 people running a race. With that, I really just quickly bounced from vendor to vendor, hoping to score some free samples, but honestly, I was kind of disappointed. With all the people in attendance, I expected more samples and more opportunities to try various products. After quickly wrapping up my time at the expo, I headed back to my car in The Venetian parking garage. The wait to get out of the garage was about a half hour, but again, I wasn’t surprised due to how many people attended the expo.
I spent all day freaking out/being excited/feeling nervous/panicking about the race that was going to take place at night. My first marathon. Crazy.
I stayed at Excalibur, which was right next to the race start at Mandalay Bay. At about 2:45, I left my room and saw some other runners in the hall. I tagged along with them as we approached a very crowded tram to take over to Mandalay Bay. When we finally got there, aside from an initial sign when entering the hotel, there was no signage to get to the race. The race was supposed to start in the parking lot, but I saw many people heading towards the parking garage and others heading in a different direction. I followed those with their Rock n Roll bags, because I assumed they would be going to gear check and the race start would be nearby. My assumptions were correct, and after a long walk navigating the halls of Mandalay Bay, I found the race start.
I headed outside but could not find the start, so I asked a woman stretching if she knew. She and I got talking about the race, which she had run before. We walked over to the start, and I followed her into her corral (corral 7) where we continued talking. We continued talking until the race started and then headed off at our own respective paces.
I had heard from a lot of people that the first half of this race would be boring. My question to those people is, where are they running that is so interesting? I run the same routes at home all the time, so for me, anything other than that is a change, and a welcomed change at that. I found that those first thirteen miles flew by and I actually PR’d that first half, with a time of 2:07:49. I was very excited about that time.
Once we turned the corner, I found myself dodging and running through clothes strewn all over the place, as I imagined most of the half marathoners had throwaway clothes that had not yet been cleaned up. Shortly after, my hips and knees started hurting a lot, so I pulled over to stretch. Throughout the rest of the race, I experienced the following:
- I had to stop and walk a few times, and pulled over to the right to walk with the half marathoners, most of whom seemed to be walking. I have no problem with people walking a half marathon (hey, I was walking part of my route too), but many of the walkers were not aware that runners were trying to get around them. I noticed this especially as I was running and had to weave in and out of walkers that were anywhere from 3-5 people across.
- The lane for the marathoners was supposed to be clearly marked, but instead, we got a 7-8 foot part of the road that dipped down toward the curb. What separated us from the half marathoners was a cone every few hundred feet with an 8×11″ piece of paper that had arrows pointing to which side of the road marathoners and half marathoners should’ve been running on. Additionally, there were people biking along telling half marathoners to stay over to the right. Overall though, this wasn’t very effective, as half marathoners made up the majority of runners and completely took over the course.
- Some water stations in the later miles were completely non-existent. By this, I mean I saw empty tables, with empty (and sometimes unused) cups on top of the tables, and thousands of used cups scattered all over the group. With a race of 44,000 runners, I expected cups all over the ground and was not surprised by that. I was, however, surprised that there was no water at some of the stations. And after running 18-20 miles, I needed that water.
- There were not enough volunteers. Those who were there did an incredible job, but you could tell they were overwhelmed due to a lack of support. They were scrambling to get water to runners, sometimes dipping their hands in water to do so. A lot of people have gotten sick and this is believed to be the cause, but in no way do I blame the volunteers, as they were simply trying as hard as they could to meet the needs of the overwhelming amount of people they had to help.
- Everything post-race was a mess. Getting my medal was fine, though I hear that they ran out of medals for those who finished later on. Getting out of Mandalay Bay was a huge issue in itself. After sitting inside for about twenty minutes and texting my friends about my finishing a marathon while stretching and hydrating, we decided to leave Mandalay Bay and grab a bite to eat. The problem was that the exit was entirely too narrow for the number of runners trying to leave, especially when combined with the number of shoppers and those who had seen a show that had just gotten out at Mandalay Bay. We stood in a pack of people for about 20-30 minutes before turning around and walking an alternate route outside that few seemed to know about, but that we were aware of after walking through Mandalay Bay earlier that day. I’ve been reading on the RnR Vegas Facebook page that people passed out and got sick standing in that crowd. The worst part about that? Medical personnel couldn’t reach those people due to the extreme size of the crowd. I’m glad I got out of there when I did, but some people were not as lucky.
In the end, I finished the marathon in 4:40:54, about ten minutes later than I hoped and expected. You do the math and you’ll see that it took me about 25 minutes longer to run the second half than it did the first. While part of this was due to the number of runners on the course, a bigger part was due to my own physical condition. I did all of the long runs but slacked off during training and as a result, my goals were not met. Obviously I need to work harder when I want something. That being said, I am very pleased with my time, especially the first half, and I’m already looking at marathons in the next couple of months because I know I can do better.
I enjoyed the course, overall. I didn’t find the first half boring, though I didn’t necessarily find it exciting either. I did not like all of the out-and-backs in this part of the race, which included one specific time that I can recall where I ran straight down a street and about halfway through they had cones to just turn around. Kind of weird, and not very fun. I liked parts of the second part of the course, but I wish we hadn’t run through such weird, desolate parts of old Las Vegas. I am not sure where else we could have gone, but I found those parts to be boring and the many turns we took through these neighborhoods didn’t help. The strip was definitely fun to run on, but I honestly expected there to be a bigger crowd of people cheering. I don’t really recall crowds of spectators, aside from a few when I merged onto the strip, and of course at the finish. The spectators I did see, however, did an awesome job cheering for all of the runners, and some had some really great signs that definitely encouraged me and made me laugh.
If they work out the issues for next year, I’ll most likely run it again. Mostly because I know I can do better on this course and I want to prove that to myself.
I’ll also post some pictures later on from the race start and finish, and–depending on the quality–some videos during the run down the strip!