Wednesday, December 14, 2011

2011 Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon Race Report

Back in the Spring, even before I ran my marathon.  A group of us bloggers were chatting about Las Vegas.  This marathon was recently taken over by the Rock-n-Roll group and has been growing ever since.  New for this year was the whole Las Vegas strip was on the route and it was at night!  It is really rare that the Strip is closed, so I jumped at the opportunity and signed up months ago.

Fellow Cleveland runners John and Jessica

My first surprise was the cost.  At 140 dollars, it was by far the most expensive half marathon I had ever registered for.  Plus, it was only 10 dollars cheaper than the price of the full marathon.  I gladly paid the fee, thinking the price was worth the opportunity to run the Strip at night.

I arrived in Las Vegas early on Thursday, which was 3 days before the race.  If I had to do it over again.  I would have arrived closer to the race.  In planning for the race.  I did not take in account the amount of walking you do in Vegas.  I did a 6 mile run on Thursday along with a bit of walking.  On Friday I did another 6 mile run.  I also spent the afternoon and evening walking again.  I did not run on Saturday, but spent the afternoon and evening again on my feet.  I had the great pleasure to finally meet some inspirational friends of mine, Jason and Karen Bahamundi aka @theladybaha and @cooktraineatrace.  Hopefully we'll enjoy some WPS again soon.

Normally this would not be a big deal, but I did all my walking in dress shoes.  So, I woke up the morning of the race with feet riddled with bruises and blisters.  I could barely walk.  I seriously felt like I had ran a marathon the day before.  I spent the day trying to stay off my feet and chewing up Advil trying to numb the pain.

Friday evening with The Logo

The race itself started at 5:30 local time, which was 8:30 Eastern.  It was really odd running this late in the day and I probably did a horrible job eating.  I had a large carb bonanza of a breakfast in the morning and didn't have anything else to eat the rest of the day besides 2 gatorades and half a bag of beef jerky.  About an hour before the race.   I am made my way over to the start with my buddy @johnsemila.  The race started at Manadaly Bay.  We were surprised to find no help when we arrived as there was not one sign pointing us in the direction to go.  Everyone else was lost too as runners where headed in every direction.

I found my way finally to the corrals with half an hour to go and shot this quick video.

The race began with the national anthem being played by Cheap Trick, which was a nice touch.  It was dark at this time and I was absolutely freezing.  I was wearing two layers, but opted for short sleeves and gloves.  I froze at the start, but felt perfect the rest of the way.

As the race started, things were fast and furious.  I found myself all the way to the left and decided to give some high fives to people who were reaching out of the crowd.  I did not break pace and was quickly cursed at by a fellow runner.  Little that I knew, this was only the beginning.  I was running my first race without music and wondered if this was common.

I made my way down the strip past New York New York and heard the second band playing East Bound and Down by Jerry Reed.  Smokey and the Bandit is my favorite movie and hearing this song was the perfect jolt as I was flying down the strip.  The crowd at this point was insane as it lined both sides of the street and all the arch ways were full as well.  Several miles into the race I began to notice cones off the the right.  You couldn't tell what they were until I final caught a small sign pointing marathoners to the left and half runners to the right.  I tried to stay over to the right, but the crowd of runners were too thick.  44,000 were running this race and even though they used corrals.  It seemed like we all left at once and it was mass hysteria.

After we passed through the end of the strip.  We headed downtown.  For those of you who have never been to Las Vegas.  The area between downtown and the strip isn't the safest of neighborhoods.  It was a weird feeling as I was waiting to hear gunshots at any moment.  It was really dark and the only sound you could here was the stampede of running shoes.  Once we arrived downtown, people were present again to cheer us on.  After a series of turns, we made the trip back up the strip.

As I made my way back up the strip.  The running traffic began to thicken.  Marathoners were beginning  to come up the right side and they were not happy.  I saw numerous runners yelling at each other?  Weren't we all there for the same cause?  Getting from point A to point B as fast as we could?  The traffic continued to get worse.  I kept trying to migrate to the right, but kept getting pushed back to the left.  I still was feeling pretty good and kept pushing on.

As I passed the Bellagio, I had enough light to see my Garmin and saw that I had a chance at going sub 2, which I never thought would be possible with the condition my feet were in.  I tried to push ahead, but there was too much traffic.  At this time, I decided to back off pace and enjoy the scenery and the crowd.  I am glad I did as I heard Party Anthem by LMFAO playing.  Fist pumping as the crowd chanted BEAL is something I will always remember and I politely declined all the offers for shots people had.  I thought better of it and didn't want to end up like a real life Hangover movie.

As I approached the finish.  Mass hysteria began.  Traffic was really thick and I made a mad dash to the far right.  There was a small bubble of room between the race and the crowd and I decided to take a chance and run right along the crowd.  We broke off to the right from the marathoners and began this weird chicane in the pitch black.  This made zero sense as the crowd couldn't see the runners and the runners were just following the person in front.  I finally saw the finish and it was backed up!!  I could reach the timing bar!  At this point my patience was gone so I pushed people aside trying to get past the timing loop.  My finish time was 2:03.  Not too bad for taking it easy and being blocked from the finish.

Unfortunately, the finish was just the beginning.  The crowd was a massive cluster eff of runners.  There was no direction and I thankfully found my to the medal line.  Once I passed through there, I was fortunate enough to get a Cytomax.  Which is an excellent product.  After this, we had no clue where to go.  There was zero direction on where to go.  It continued to get worse as 44,000 runners were finishing and all the people who were watching were also try to find their loved ones.  This turned into a see of gridlock.  I was lucky and followed the guard rail around to Mandalay Bay.  At this point we were stuck with no where to go.  The crowd was stuck and 3 shows just released and all these people were added to the mix.  I asked a security guard for help and I was told to go around.  I asked around where?  I was told again to go around?  I then asked again where?  He then approached me in a threatening manner and begged me to hop the fence so he could arrest me.  Really?  I just ran half a marathon and now getting pushed against a fence by a crowd with no where to go and this is how I am treated?  Thankfully I found a way out and made my way to the hotel tram.  Of course the tram was broke and I had to walk back to my hotel.

Ok, so what are my thoughts on this race.  The course was cool.  Running the strip at night is a experience I will never forget.  With that said, this is not a race to attempt a PR at.  The race was oversold by atleast ten to fifteen thousand runners.  This also was the more poorly ran event I have ever experienced in my life.  Rock n Roll should be embarrassed.   Also, I learned after the fact was a situation with the water.  The race water was poured from unclean fire hydrants.  It was then held in trash cans and then served in dixie cups.  Well, when the runners saw trash cans they through trash in the cans, yet drinking water was still served.  Thankfully, I was ahead of the trash water and drank Cytomax.  I was really lucky to not fall ill from the race water.  Also, this race had a total lack of race etiquette.  Every division can take some of the blame for this as I saw a lack of it from every distance.  I am not sure why it was so lacking, but it was really unfortunate.

I always viewed Rock n Roll as a professional marathon planner.  After this race that statement couldn't be further from the truth.  I payed 140 dollars to run the half, only 10 dollars cheaper than the full.  This race was a complete rip off and I will never do a Rock n Roll event again.

Other than the race, my trip was fantastic.



Kimberly (Msindigo) said...

My thoughts exactly. Except I'm still torn on runnng New Orleans since I already paid for it and I promised it would be a vacation weekend for my family.

mojamala2 said...

Grammar Police!!!!! Just kidding...maybe. Great Recap and sucks that we wasted so much money on that weekend for such a crappy race. I am really curious to see the changes for next year's race. I heard they want to bump the field up to a larger number, are they crazy?

Running With Charlene said...

I could care less what changes they make. I will not spend a penny of my money on RnR races, ever again. They have lied to us in the past - why should they be trusted to promise to make changes.

Their in ability to handle the post race damage control is evident they are out of touch and should be denied to operate a race.

There are way too many more options to race, and big ones too.

Sorry you had a bad visit to our city. This is not how we treat our guests.

adena said...

Nice run time! Sorry so many things were handled poorly. That just sucks.

JFord said...

New to your blog! I heard about this race and think that running the strip at night would be awesome, but I also heard alot of people got sick because they used fire hydrants to fill up the water cups??? I hope that is not true!

JohnSemilia said...

Great write up. This may be the worst value I ever received from a race. It makes me appreciate how well the races in NE Ohio are organized. Remember, if you go to Vegas, don't drink the water.

Heather said...

I feel bad for the people whose very first race was this one.
At least the actual race was OK for you.

Matty O said...

I can lecture everyone for hours on this... The more people there are, the more problems you will get. I have done 3 rock and roll races... one of them I raced, fast enough that there were no crowds by me, so I had no issues, the other two I ran with Heather and it was a herd of cattle the whole race.

Not much you can do, I compare Rock N Roll series with WTC of triathlons, its a corporation and you are merely a number and a dollar amount to them.

That is the reason I would never ever run Vegas. Love the town but had no desire to suffer like you and Jason.

Nice time w/ respect to the mob scene man.

Yeah, walking all day, ugh, total buzz kill the next day, I usually get shin splints from walking a lot.

Glad you made the best of it and did not let the crap race ruin your trip!

big-daddy-diesel said...

Congrats on the race, i heard nothing but bad things about that race. 44k, no thank you

Colleen said...

Congrats on a great race. Sounds like a bit of a mess though with that many people, as well as the normal Vegas weekend crowd!

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