Race #29 The Strip at RocknRoll Las Vegas Half-Marathon
In the post-race rush following finishing the Temecula Diva Half-Marathon in February, Donna says, “I want to do one of the Rock n Roll half-marathons.” We settle on Rock N Roll Las Vegas over the Veteran’s Day weekend.
One by one, four drops to two. Donna (far right, below) registers and books her flight. I didn’t. I was waiting to for certainty that two wouldn’t become one.
I’m not a fan of Vegas. I was. Once. Okay, lots. In my early twenties, there was the all-night partying with college friends. A late twenties romantic excursion. In my thirties and forties, a mix of multiple trips—family, friends, romance and Donna’s bachelorette party. The latter a source of gratitude that “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
Come October, Donna’s still in. Rock n Roll Las Vegas is happening. As I register, I see the option to buy race insurance. Yes, there’s even insurance on race registrations. I wish I’d thought of it. Add a few bucks to your $130 registration in case you can’t or don’t make it to the race. It seems like a sucker’s purchase, so I never buy it.
Five hours after I register, Donna calls with exciting news. She’s was just offered an opportunity to go to a conference in Botswana as a VIP. Now, there was one.
I wanted to cancel. An evening race on Veteran’s Day weekend. It was going to be worth the drive to hang out with my BFF and laugh all weekend. Now, the idea of being stuck in holiday traffic for an evening race in a city that I’ve outgrown was entirely unappealing. Except, I didn’t buy the insurance. Though it would cost me more to make the trip than simply flush away the registration, it was the principle of it all.
I waited till late evening and drove without a hint of traffic to Las Vegas from the Southern California. Slept-in and then off on the adventure of parking and picking up my race bib. And it was worth it!
Every visit I’ve ever taken to Las Vegas has included walking along the Las Vegas Strip. Dozens of walks along the busy, gorgeous, lights-flashing strip. They close down the entire strip at night for the Rock n Roll Las Vegas full- and half-marathon. Granted, they close it down in the morning for the Veteran’s Day Parade. Meaning, they get two events from the same street closure. There were over 40,000 people participating in the full or half-marathon—buying meals, snacks, renting rooms, some gambling, some watching shows. It’s a good move for Vegas.
It was around mile five when I let it fully sink in that I was walking in the middle of one of the most iconic roads in America. Movies like Casino, Leaving Las Vegas, the Oceans 11 franchise and on and on. A road whose pavement was tread by people from all over the planet, celebrities of every ilk.
The course passes Wynn, Luxor, Bellagio, the Stratosphere, Circus Circus, etc. It keeps going through the seedier areas. There are barricades and plenty of security who have cleared the streets of the people who normally populate the sidewalks in front of the pawn shops, liquor stores and motels that folks shelling out $130 for the privilege of walking 13.1 miles never visit.
There’s a quick view of old downtown and Fremont street before a return through the less lit strip en route back to the finish in front of the Mirage.
As a half-marathon walker, I’m used to being at the tail end of the participants. By the time I was heading back to the well lit part of strip, a few of the colorful regulars were slowly settling back into their usual places.
I heard an aged and weathered woman wrapped in layers repeat from the sidewalk, “You all runnin’ through here. You pretendin’ you don’t see. You pretendin’ you don’t see. Keep on running…”