Las Vegas RnR Half Dec 2, 2012.

Vegas!  An intriguing race to end our year: at night on the Strip as members of Team Running Elvi.  This is our first Rock n Roll series race.  Temperatures are due to be 12° above average on Sunday at 71° with a low of 50°.   

Sunday begins with breakfast on the outside patio at Dal Toro at 10:30.  The waterfalls are lovely and 2 ducks join us.  This is December?  The rest of the day involves waiting in the room and finally getting into the jumpsuits again.  It is very odd running on a Sunday night.  We leave the room at 2:15 to head for the Palazzo shuttles.  Elvi duty today is a meet up at 3:30 followed by a walk to our special Elvi/run through weddings start corral #12. 

We emerge into warm sunshine and gusty winds.  There is a mass of people.  The marathoners take the first shuttles; their race starts at 3. Somehow we end up in good position to get on shuttle 4.  We enjoy a superb drive up the deserted race-ready Strip amid police cars and sidewalks full of runners.  The shuttle drops us off outside Tropicana and we have a short walk to the start village.  It is organized perfectly; there are stations for water, fruit and bagels with the stage at the far end and a line of portapotties in front of the Luxor. 

The Journey Experience start performing at 3 so we visit the bathrooms first.  This hellish ordeal involves re-pinning both shoulders and bib while not dropping an IPod or water belt in the toilet.  Evidently there is some kind of aircraft flyby as I continue this production and I miss the entire thing.  We have time to watch the band for a few minutes.  At 3:30 we head back over to meet the group.  Finally there are substantial numbers of Elvi, around 160.  The LVRJ inflates this to 300.  It is quite fascinating; a lot of the brides have flowers and different versions of wedding dresses.  One groom is wearing underpants.  There are 3 Elvis Mobiles, the British Elvi have Pete Vallee on theirs but we don’t get a chance to talk to them. 

By the time we start walking over to the corrals it is 3:50.  It is so windy the palm fronds are horizontal.  The Elvis Mobiles are in good form and keep us entertained while we wait.  It begins to feel more like a party than a race and the thought of running seems absurd.  The anthem plays, we can almost hear it and the Elvis Mobiles are silenced briefly.  The red PF Chang dragon passes by to the left.  It is getting dark when the first corral goes; the announcers are counting down each one.  A police bike passes us on the right and the first half marathon runners go by in the gloom.  It is impressive. 

Start line pic from LVRJ

The start line banner appears ahead, we are almost there.  It is flapping enthusiastically in the wind.  Over the next few minutes it will become completely dark.  It is the slowest start I have ever experienced in a race, between gusty headwinds and slow runners, some people are even walking.   By the turnaround we have passed the slower runners and the road is more open.  The wind is behind us for a bit and finally we run at a good pace.  There is a band at the Las Vegas sign, Kev stops for a picture. 

Our Elvis collars are hitting us in the back of the head as we pass the Luxor.  There are a lot of people out watching from NY to Mirage.  Occasionally an Elvis passes.  At Bellagio/Paris there is a Kiss tribute band to our right, they look great but we are trying to keep going.  The wind seems to be coming from the side and sometimes there is grit in it. 

We are in the area of Bill’s and Flamingo; The Hangover guy passes us complete with baby then a guy in full emu getup who looks far cooler than I do.  A guy with a huge US flag passes, other runners are touching it.  The British Elvi overtake us at the Palazzo, they are too fast to keep up with.  There are huge amounts of people out watching here.  We wave to a few appreciative Elvi fans.  I believe I am at my most purple around Circus Circus where a number of photos are taken.  At each of the Gatorade stations we stick to the road.  I have to stop at the next water station (Sahara) as I am extremely hot and need to tip cold water into my suit.  I am very slow at this point.  The helpful LV policeman at the road block advises me to keep going and keep up with Coach Presley. 

I am purple, this suit is ridiculously hot

The next stretch toward the Stratosphere and beyond is lit by a number of classic neon signs.  On our right we pass the Graceland Wedding Chapel where a pink Cadillac sits under an awning (drive thru weddings) and Elvis (the real one?) stands outside the chapel watching.  There is a DJ on a dark patch of road and they are shining disco lights onto us.  Another surreal race moment.  They are playing Imma Be.

We are now in downtown, a lot of the streets are residential and there is a sofa on the sidewalk.  It looks soft.  As we turn west a huge bank of floodlights shine in our eyes causing chaotic confusion.  There is a brief section of dirt/gravel with sharp stones then we turn past a gigantic fire breathing metal insect on a bus.  We cross Fremont Street where Marilyn Monroe is en route to work.  There is a Marine in full uniform and boots carrying his division flag. 

As we come out of downtown the wind is gusting in our faces again at 40mph.  The mile markers have all blown down but the timing mats give a good indication of distance.    We can see the Stratosphere ahead but it is not getting any closer.  The marathon appears to the right across a barrier, the runners are doing well - a guy with a punk haircut (Sid Vicious) is delighted when a female runner catches up to him (Nancy).  It is getting hard to run as it is still hot and now we are contending with strong gusty winds.  A lot of people are struggling alongside us.

The band playing Take It on the Run by the Stratosphere are very good, I am tempted to stop and listen.  Suddenly we run over a spot lit red section where photographers take pics from above us (and the side we discover later).  This is right by the Riviera.  The end is close now, slightly over a mile.  We are Rockstars again.  Just past Circus Circus there is a Celtic band complete with bagpipes, again we don’t really get the chance to listen but they sound very lively.

I can see the finish line ahead.  There are loads of spectators and on the right of us people are in the marathon lane restricting space for the runners.  Loud rock music plays and there is a mist effect to the sides.  It is surprisingly dark and I can see a photographer down on our right.  We are open and not crowded by other runners; this has been the case for most of the race so we end up with a ton of pictures.  

Kev takes off his bandana and produces the Elvis shades as we approach. 
We cross the timing mat.

We have finished in 2:38:06 (slowest ever) but it was exhausting fun.  We are in the centre of the road so manage to miss the medal stations and have to reverse.  We collect them, they are beautiful, and get another picture taken.  There are tons of water stations along this stretch (in front of Harrah’s).  Mylar blankets are next, the volunteer correctly announces that ‘Elvis needs a blankie’ and we pick them up.  Great advertising on the back, at least people know which way to wear them.  Rockstars.  Time for another picture in the official zone, there are superb race backgrounds here similar to Detroit only with many more stations.   We pass by Gatorade, and then it is time for chocolate milk right out of an ice bucket.  Tru Moo – awesome!  The fruit cups and bars are forgone, we don’t have a lot of carrying capacity but Kevin picks up a Marathon bar and we both collect a baby cup of Jamba Juice with its own little straw. 

Bagels, bananas and pretzels pass by and we see an exit by Bill’s.  We drop all our crap to take some pics in front of the lights and of course our traditional self portrait shot.  This is one of my favourite ones, what a backdrop.  We are able to walk right up the Strip toward our hotel which is fabulous as the sidewalks are packed with people.   A couple of police cars pass by otherwise there is plenty space which is extremely welcome.  As we get to the Venetian we are right by the finish line and stop to watch for a few minutes.  The music is great but it is still very dark right at the line.  We see Marsha, our fellow Elvi finish – her wig is still intact. 

The walk past the Venetian tree back into the hotel is quiet; there are only a few other Mylar clad runners around us.   We arrive at the elevators and share ours with other overheated runners.  It is incredible to reach the room and finally take off the shoes and suits. 

Dinner at the Grand Lux follows with medals and celebratory vino.  We are surrounded by runners and discussions of the race.  A fair number of medals have come out to eat also. 


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