Marathon number 5 in 2017 and my last race of the year. I knew that this was not going to be an easy one to run when I registered, having ran the NEW YORK CITY MARATHON 2017 7 days before Vegas, as well as the fatigue from running two marathons in 7 days I also had the jet lag of flying from New York to Manchester, 3 days in the UK and then flying Manchester to Las Vegas the day before the marathon. I had planned it so that I could spend as much time as possible in the UK with my family between the two races, so I would depart Manchester Saturday morning, fly to Heathrow and then on to Las Vegas arriving at 3pm. I would then go straight to the expo to collect my race number and finisher shirt and run the 5k at 6pm. The marathon started at 4:30pm Sunday evening so that would give me Saturday night to get some food, a little shopping and a good sleep.
This plan went out of the window when my flight from Heathrow to Las Vegas was firstly delayed by an hour, then as we were taxing to the runway the pilot found an “issue with the wings” so we had to go back to the stand, this turned out to be unfixable meaning we had to wait for another plane to become available. One was due in from Boston in 6 hours time! In the end I made it to my hotel at 2am Sunday morning!! just the 10 hours late.
Marathon day!!!!!!!!!! (Sunday November 12th)
It is a good job this was a night marathon, otherwise I would have been running 7 hours after arriving in the country, but then with the time difference that may have been better? Running at 4:30pm Vegas time was for me like starting a marathon at 12:30am after no sleep the day before. Not ideal at all, factor in the marathon 7 days earlier, the travel, lack of sleep and jet lag, I knew that running 4 hours was going to be hard. On paper, this looks a quick course, it is flat with around 200ft of elevation gain and running along the Las Vegas Strip is going to be pretty awesome. Before I registered for this marathon, I was 70 / 30 on whether to run the half marathon as the whole of that route is on the Strip and Freemont Street, where as the second half of the marathon route takes in side streets, parking lots and open ground. So I went for the marathon, purely because I wanted a Rock n Roll Marathon Finishers jacket.
Having missed the expo, my first worry was whether I would even be allowed to run the race or not, I was awake at 7am so I called Rock n Roll and they were great, they said that they understood my issues and I can collect my race number at the race village after 2pm. With some good news at last, I spent the morning walking around the Vegas Strip doing some shopping and getting some photographs of the casinos. This was the 7th time I have been to Vegas and I had been here 4 weeks earlier after the ARIZONA TO LAS VEGAS CYCLE CHALLENGE 2017 so there wasn’t any sightseeing I needed to do. Other than sightseeing some casinos. I grabbed some lunch at 1pm, headed back to The Venetian where I was staying for a shower and got changed into my race gear.
It was a little strange walking through the casino and down the Strip in my running gear, although I ran down the Strip when I was here last month, that was early on, this time I was walking down the Strip at 3pm when it was packed and despite the Strip being closed to traffic and all marked up for a series of running race (they were running the 10k, half marathon and marathon tonight), lots of people were giving me funny looks.
The race village was moved to the T Mobile Arena this year and seemed really well organised, I collected my race number, dropped my bag at gear check and just waited around to be called to the corrals. I was in corral 2 but obviously not going to be running anywhere near that pace now.
Didn’t I just say that everything seemed really well organised? well scratch that, the corrals were an absolute disgrace, the worst system I have ever seen. There were 15 corrals for the marathon, all lined up one after the other along the Strip with the start line just in front of the New York New York, however, the only way into the corrals was from the very back, corral 15. This meant that everyone was to walk from the back through every corral until you reach you assigned number. Obviously everyone headed straight to the front! There were 4 people checking we had race numbers and it was just impossible to force your way down to your corral. I gave up and lined up in corral 8 in the end.
By the time corral 8 got to the start line they held us back 5 minutes to allow the other runners to run on and leave some space for us. I liked this in Berlin and thought it would be good here too. I was literally on the start line with nobody in front of me, a pretty awesome feeling, it felt like I was one of the elites liking up.
Mile 1 – 6: 8:11, 8:12, 7:59, 8:00, 7:56, 7:59
Already feeling tired and ready for bed, I was setting off to run a marathon, in the dark under the bright lights of Las Vegas. A strange feeling and one that I will not ever let myself experience again. I decided to try and run at 8:00 pace for as long as I could, it is a flat route after all. The first two miles are ran south down Las Vegas Boulevard to the far side of McCarran passing the Welcome to Las Vegas sign, where lots of runners were stopping for selfies. I have been there and done that so I just cracked on knowing there is going to be a lot of walking later on so may as well run while I am still again. At mile 3 we did a U-turn and ran north up the opposite side of Las Vegas Boulevard. Passing the famous casinos, fountains of Bellagio and the Mirage Volcano.
Mile 6 took us to the Wynn and the end of the main part of the strip.
Mile 7 – 13: 8:31, 7:58, 7:59, 8:15, 8:25, 8:14, 8:34
So far I had ran pretty much to my 8 minute pace plan, at mile 7 I decided to take a toilet break seeing a free one which made mile 7 slower but 8 and 9 were back on track, by now we were just arriving at Fremont Street, we only ran past the end of this, rather than running down the street which I thought would have been a cool additional, obviously a nightmare to organise and control I know but the idea sounds good. After this it was 2 miles back down the strip towards the hotels again, however at mile 12 the marathon runners split off from the half marathon runners. My legs were feeling heavy already by now and I could feel my pace slowing. I had seen the route beforehand, I knew that the next 14 miles were pretty much mostly going to be shitty, I just didn’t know how bad they would be. I reached the half marathon point in 1:48:01 averaging 8:15, I had lost most of this pace in the past 4 miles but I was still running.
Mile 14 – 21: 8:46, 8:39, 8:51, 9:10, 9:02, 9:15, 11:43, 9:55
This entire section, mile 14 – 21 was ran around the side streets of downtown Vegas, these were dark and so so quiet, there wasn’t a single person there supporting the runners, a big chunk of this was running up and down a parking lot. This was what I was dreading and with the tiredness I just had to stop and walk at 18.5 miles, literally, I was bored, it felt like a training run back at home all by myself. The marathon runners were quite spread out and there was nothing to look at, just the side of the highway. I walked a little more during mile 20, convinced myself that I felt sick, but didn’t so carried on, decided I needed the toilet, stopped and queued at a portaloo then changed my mind.
Mile 22 – 26.2: 10:49, 9:10, 10:47, 9:23, 9:26, 8:53
At mile 22 we rejoined Las Vegas Boulevard, where we had split off from the half marathon, what felt like days ago. I was glad to be back here, I knew it was 4 miles to go, I could see the big hotels in the distance, there were more runners around again and I felt a little better, totally forgetting that it was 4 miles to go and we were 1.1 miles from the finish if we ran straight home. I had forgotten about a nice little treat at mile 22.5, yep you guessed it, we were back in a parking lot making up the miles. 2.5 miles running up and down a parking lot in the dark AGAIN, my heart sang when we ran into here and I just stopped at the water table had a few cups of water and walked on for a bit, my pace was a snails pace now, I had lost all interest in running and just wanted to finish and get out of here. At mile 25 we rejoined the LV Boulevard for the second time, surely we would be running straight to the finish (I knew that we weren’t but again, forgot). So after 1 mile on the Boulevard, we turned off again, my exact words were FFS not again, this time it was as bad, it was just 0.4 mile down Stardust Road and back down the other side, but still, so frustrating! we rejoined LV Boulevard once again at 25.8 miles, just 0.4 to go and this torture is over! That was what it felt like, it felt like one of the tests they put the Marines through to build mental strength. I was tired, jet lagged, worn out and broken by the quiet dark empty roads and parking lots.
Thankfully I made it to the finish line and the finish line was awesome, smoke machines and lasers and tunes pumping, to sum up my experience I crossed the finish line to Taylor Swift – Bad Blood playing in a time of 3:56:13
So would I recommend the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Marathon? To give an open and honest opinion I have to take my tiredness and jet lag out of the equation, what did I think of the event as a whole? The race village was good and in a great location, the corrals for the marathon were shocking, this may have been different for the half marathon. The experience of running the Strip at Night was amazing and something I would never forget. BUT, this is where the fun stopped for me running the marathon, from mile 12 – 25.8 we were mostly off the strip, out running in no mans land in the dark and it was silent, it was horrible running the second half of the race.
My advice? if you can, definitely come to Las Vegas to run this weekend, but run the half marathon NOT the marathon, the half would be a much better experience of running down the strip and back again, no parking lots or side streets. It has all of the good bits that I enjoyed and none of the bad. The half marathon is the way to go, its flat and ran at night it is a good temperature and very likely to be dry, you could run this one fast.
The Rock n Roll medals are always amazing, this did not disappoint, it spins and glows in the dark!!
To sum it all up, marathon number 5 was tough and tiring but one which I ran under 4 hours. My target for 2017 was to run a marathon under 4 hours, this was my forth sub 4 marathon of the year so I cannot complain at that. I have just ran down the Las Vegas Strip at night and completed two marathons in 7 days with 8,500 miles of travelling between them.
Now it is time to take a well earned two week break from running before I start training for the ASICS Greater Manchester and London Marathons on the 27th November. 2018 we do it all over again.