Most of you will have heard the story of my journey to Las Vegas, if you haven’t please take a look at my overview blog HERE.
A few stats about the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon. This was my 32nd Marathon and 38th towards the 100 Marathon Club including 2 Ironman and 4 100k events. This was my 15th marathon of 2017, much more than I’ve ever ran before.
As always I laid out my race kit the night before the race, ensuring I had everything I needed. This included my Asics I’ve been wearing for the last few events, but I don’t think they have much more life left in them. I had my Racecheck visor, double watch with TomTom and Garmin, some nutrition from Lucazade and my CEP kit. I have been using my compression socks for years, and also been using the wingtech top for a few events. My CEP shorts were a new edition for me to try out, I had worn them for a couple of shorter runs but nothing like this.
We had a really stressful start to the event unfortunately. We had booked a Nanny at 35 dollars an hour. Expensive, but worth it so Kirsty and I could both run and have a good evening. We arranged for her to arrive at 14:45 so we could meet in the lobby with everyone else at 15:00 hours. She was late and meant we were all stressing, running around looking for her, phoning the company. She arrived half an hour late, which meant that most of the team had to leave to get to the start. Mathias waited for us, with Roxi and Ines.
When we got to the start we made our way to the VIP area. It was full of food and drinks, but we didn’t have a lot of time so didn’t make the most of it. As with the 5k it wasn’t very well signposted at the start, and I think a lot of the issues were owing to the changes because of the recent shooting (#vegasstrong). The VIP area was supposed to have a bag drop, we were directed inside but no one knew where it was. Long story short, after asking numerous people, none of whom knew where it was, it was outside, and closed after searching for 30 minutes.
The start was one of the busiest and most chaotic I have ever seen. We were blue start so supposed to be at the front, but it was fenced off so you couldn’t get through. We had to go in through a different colour start which was not well signposted and full of people doing the same thing. There was absolutely no control, so there were many people too far forward and that meant no one could get where they were supposed to be, which was frustrating. When I got as far as I could I was stood next to the 4:25 Pacer. Just in front of me was the 3:15 Pacer, and just behind me was the 3:10 Pacer. With such a busy start this made the pacers pretty null and void.
I had previously asked to Pace the event, but with such a last minute entry this was already organised. I’m so glad that I wasn’t pacing. The point for me about pacing is about motivating those around you to achieve their target, and pacers struggled to get to the right place let alone the runners. Pacing therefore would have been difficult. Pacers also carried a stick with a sign, and I was surprised that there was no reflection or lights considering it was dark, so they didn’t stand out.
The atmosphere when the event got started was amazing. It is one of the busiest, loudest and brightest events I have ever been at.
It promised to be the Biggest, loudest, craziest party ever. And this is certainly how it started. Great atmosphere starting to loud music, running along the strip on closed roads is pretty awesome. It was crowded and full of people walking or running far slower than I would normally. I wasn’t as bothered by this as I usually would be, as I wanted to enjoy the run rather than work at a time. Especially after the 5k, which you can read about HERE.
It took about 3 miles for me to get around the crowds, and find space to run at my own pace. Once we pulled away from the start area it got a bit quiet to be honest. Rock n Roll Marathon series is known for its great atmosphere, but don’t expect music the whole route… a marathon is a long way.
It was a strange feeling running past Mandalay Bay hotel knowing that just a few weeks ago there was a mass shooting. This had impacted on the event, changing the location of a few bits. The race organisers had done a great job making the event run smoothly. We had a police helicopter follow us at the start, and police lined this area. In one way it made you feel safe, but I was acutely aware that there must have been concern. The helicopter flew too low at one point, and let’s not forget we are running through a desert. It created a huge sand storm which wasn’t very nice to run through.
Once I got past the crowds I had a choice to make, I could put my foot down to aim for a fast time, or relax and enjoy myself. I had been taking pictures and as I ran past the welcome to Las Vegas sign I made my decision. I took a detour, ran off the route and stood in a queue to take a picture, then queued for an official one. I would like to buy the official pictures but they are far too expensive, if they were a bit cheaper I would have purchased them. As we made our way back towards the start line the music started up again, as we passed by a Elton John act. The main part of the strip must be the best running experience ever #stripatnight. It’s not my favourite race (which I will come to later), but 7-8 miles of this event are unrivalled in my experience.
It’s crazy running past mini New York, then through little Paris. The lights and atmosphere is amazing. There are so many runners around which makes it a great place to run. It wasn’t as loud as I thought it would be on the most part, but this didn’t matter. There were also lots of people dressed up in bright reflective clothing, or Elvis attire.
I saw my first Pacer at about 9 miles, the 4 hour Pacer. At this point I knew they started in front of me, and I was averaging sub 8 min miles, on for 3:30. Let’s just say I was surprised to see them here. Owing to the bad start there didn’t seem to be many running with the Pacer, but they didn’t stand out very much. I soon caught up with the 3:55 Pacer, who again seemed to be going too fast, but it didn’t matter because he stopped dead to take some photos, and no one was running with him anyway. I don’t want to sound too critical about the pacers as it would have been hard to pace in these conditions, but I ran with 3 at some point and each was way off pace. The 3:50 was running 8 min miles for 2 mins with me and when they got to mile 17 looked at their watch and put the brakes on. I didn’t witness any real group atmosphere or encouragement. Please if you took part and ran with a Pacer and had a great experience please comment on my blog, give them a shout out.
I was on for about 3:30-3:40 taking in the surroundings, but at about 17 miles the course became uninspired so I slowed down. I started walking all the aid stations (water in cups is always a bad thing for me, but didn’t bother me as I wasn’t going all out). I decided I would do enough to get a sub 4, and adjusted my pace accordingly just to get in under sub 4.
A note about the course, the half is fantastic, one of the best I’ve ever done. The second half is painfully boring, and probably the worst I’ve ever done. There are some moments of light and music, but most of it is in the dark, and really quiet. The worst part is at about 21 miles, you go into the field where the concert was held, and run around it for about 4 miles… it felt like it would never end. It was great to see the strip again and know you are approaching the finish.
I go all the way to Las Vegas and see a few regular marathon runners on the course, including Nick and Foxy. These guys ran something like 8 marathons in 7 days and were on their second marathon of the day. I was really impressed when I caught Foxy at about mile 12 who ran with me for a couple miles. I can’t imagine running that pace after what his body had been through. He was never going to keep it up but he did a fantastic job.
The finish was one of the best finishes I have experienced. It was loud, bright and had an awesome party atmosphere. My target was sub 4 and official result is 3:58:58. The bling was awesome and there were lots of goodies to pick up. Only downside here is that the bags are after the long walk to get all your goodies, so I couldn’t carry much. I then had to queue up for my free Jacket (incentive to do the marathon) and queue up again to get my remix medal. Both queues were worth it though.
Very happy with all my bling. I didn’t end up going to the VIP event afterwards as the rest of the CEP team had only done the half marathon (see Kirsty’s blog) and had already left. I rushed back in time for the team after photo in our hotel. We were going to go for something to eat and drink, but first had to help the German team with a challenge. Kirsty unfortunately couldn’t join us as she had to go back for the kids. The Germans had been doing challenges for charity the whole trip, and they had been promised 500 Euro if they got on stage with Kissed Alive, who were playing at the finish line. It was doubled if they got 4 others to take part, well that was an easy decision for me.
So there we were, team CEP after the marathon, rocking, having fun and cheering in the last runners before the sweeper bus.
The last night with the team was fantastic. I couldn’t have wished for a better group to have shared the experience with. The CEP team couldn’t have been more generous or better hosts. I loved running in my CEP kit, I always run in their compression socks anyway, and I didn’t get any chafing from wearing the wingtech top. I always plaster myself in Vaseline and usually still get rubbed to bits, but in the wingtech top I had no issues even without lube. I did have issues with the shorts to be honest, I always get rubbed between my bum cheeks, and that was the same in these. I’m thinking I didn’t pull them up enough, I will have to explore next time.
Would I go back to take part in Las Vegas again? Most definitely without a shadow of a doubt. If I got the opportunity to run with Team CEP again even better. Would I do the full marathon? No, not unless I have to. Even though I am trying to build up my marathon numbers, this is an event to have fun in. I would argue the half marathon will be one of the best in the world, so half the marathon can have this accolade. I would happily miss the second half. If they could turn this into a two lap course I would do the marathon in a heartbeat.
One last thing all. I’ve been nominated for the Running Awards 2018, for my blog. If you like my blog please vote for me, it’s quick and easy, just follow this link HERE and vote for “pick up the Pace Paul”. Thank you.