Let’s get down to the nitty gritty on my review of 26.2 in Vegas. At night.
The race was held on December 4th. There was a full marathon as well as a half. If you got in on the early bird entry fee it was $120 for either race. After that I believe the price went as high as $175 for the full and $155 for the half. PRICEY!
The race was a staggered start with the marathon start at 4 pm and the half at 5:30. Both the start and finish was at Mandalay Bay resort and casino. The corrals were not strict at all. I walked back and forth between corral 1 and 3 looking for friends so I could have started wherever I wanted. Thankfully for the speedsters I stayed in my assigned corral numba dos.
The First Half
The race took off pretty much on time and we ran in what felt like several circles around the outskirt of the strip. It was flat (with the exception of an overpass and a slight incline around mile 10) with very few aide stations and some random portable street lights. The usual Rock n Roll marathon entertainment seemed to be lacking, but then again I was confused as to why we were running over the same overpass for the third time. I could have been dazed and confused 🙂
The Second Half
Once we made it to the last 13.1 (an out and back) on the strip pandemonium ensued. The infamous marathon/half marathon merge.
I know many of you have read how crazy this was but I wish I could truly explain how nuts it was. At times I felt like I was stuck in slow motion. I literally had to stop in my tracks multiple times taking me from my 8:25 average pace to pretty much hopping in place. Eeek. Spirit breaker. I had no option but to get up on the sidewalk at times where people were boozing and smoking and chilling, making it extremely difficult. The course had mini-cones (I’m talking ankle high) with arrows to the right for halfers and arrows to the left for marathoners but they were IMPOSSIBLE to see. I still don’t understand why the race directors thought those cones would be effective but perhaps they had no other option?
There were course marshals on bicycles but they had no control. They were trying their best to keep halfers to the right and marathoners to the left but it was a lost cause. There just wasn’t enough room. This race simply had too many people. A total cluster.
The water stations on the strip were down right scary. Masses of people, mounds of trash, water flying. At times I felt like I was in a heard of cattle. Not kidding. Moo. I had to come to a complete stop twice to refill my handheld. The volunteers were surrounded and it was a hot mess.
The finish line was chaos.
People were fighting for mylar blankets and I couldn’t move. Mosh pit USA. I was one of the many that ended up ill post race (hi barf, nice to see you) and I nearly passed out trying to escape the masses. I have no idea why a photo-op was set up right at the finish line but that caused the traffic jam that lead to a lot of fainters, etc. I grabbed a bottle of water and cytomax and peaced out. I saw marathon bars and green bananas but I am not sure if any other goodies were offered.
I was told there were shuttles available but I did not see them. I stayed at Mandalay Bay so I was able to go straight up to my room. I was told that the shuttle/cab situation was a hot mess.
Overall I think this could have been a great race if it wasn’t oversold. There were simply way too many people.
If you are going to run this race my suggestions are as follows:
1. Sign up early. The longer you wait the more expensive it will be.
2. Stay at Mandalay Bay. I repeat STAY AT MANDALAY BAY. It was so easy to get to the start and then head right to the hotel after the finish.
3. Carry a handheld (or wear a fuel belt). The air is dry and cold in Vegas so just a sip helps at times! I did (although I had to refill it twice) and it was worth it. The water stations were a nightmare.
4. Bring layers. You never know what you will get in Vegas in December.
Will I run this race again? Not likely if they are going to keep it at 45,000 plus runners (heard 60,000 next year?). The strip simply cannot support that many people.