Las Vegas Half Marathon



Here you go, it feels odd writing about a half marathon when a full marathon was on at the same time, same place too.  But having done the full marathon it was a great idea to do the half.  Basically the full this year was the same as when I did it a few years ago.  That’s the half marathon course then add on 13 and a bit miles of running along freeways (dual carriageways to us!) and mighty tedious and dull it was too.

Back to this year.  Alison and I decided to do the half marathon this year.  Interestingly it was held in an evening time, so you run down the famous Las Vegas strip at night with all the hotels and landmarks lit up.  The road was closed to all traffic so this was a great experience.  However to start with there is the event marathon expo to indulge in.


We attended the expo the day before the event; you could have gone on the day before that; however our flights dictated that it was the Saturday we went.  This isn’t as much of a problem if you are worried about tiredness etc as normal.  The event is on 8 hours later than normal so you can lie in and rest more on the day if you wish.  It’s sponsored by Brooks so you know it’s going to be good.  I certainly wasn’t disappointed, but the Americans do things differently to us, there is a great deal of themed tops and not a lot of shorts or pants. There are plenty of other mainly non shoe suppliers on hand too.  All have a huge range of goods on offer.  As the norm with this expo, you can get a lot of free samples (which I do) most are food related as well.  It took us a few hours to go around a few times and we certainly bought lots and hammered the credit card! In general items are in dollars as they are in pounds here, so it works out a great saving on most things. You get your number, chip timing and t shirt here.


On the day of the race, we went shopping, just enough to stretch the legs (I jest not!).  As its at night, it was going to be cold, so I went for gloves, t shirt and Blyth club vest as well as my peak hat, which is pretty much standard for me in the winter, I never wear long pants for racing, so it was my shorts which have a great zipped side pocket for my shot bloks of jelly.


You get told not to arrive early for these events.  On ours we had 35000 I think for the half and full marathons, I’m sure there was a half of the half and a 5 km on different days too.  To start with at the starting holding area there was a concert by “Snoop Dog” who allegedly is a big star! On saying that we had Cher when I did the marathon a few years back.  In this area you are provided with yoghurt, bagels, bananas and water.  Which I had!, you then drop your bags off with your name/number on; this was a very easy process and was easy to get at the end once you got to the place where they were stored.  The Americans certainly do well in the organisation of this type of event.  I keep saying event as that’s really what they are, there is more on offer for those taking it like that than racing it.


Our target time was 2:30, so for this we were in the 2:20 – 2:30 Corral, number 28 of many.  At the start each corral was set off 30 s apart to ease congestion.  For us this meant a longish wait, but we had our bin bags on.  It was cold; about 5 c when the sun went in, the temperature drops quickly as Vegas is really in a desert valley.  Also it warms up very fast for early in the day runs too.  We had a pacing lady beside us she was a 2:20 pacer, so the plan was to stay with her for a good while at least.

We were going to take photos en route though, as you won’t get many chances like this.  As the first few photos were not good, the light wasn’t great for photos we scrapped that idea and just ran.

The pacing lady was going too fast for my calculations so we held back a fair bit.  The main problem which was a really annoying was the amount of people walking from the start and many of who must have lied about their time as they were in corrals way ahead of us to begin with.  This really caused us problems, later on it was those walking who were tired, fair enough that.  It was congested but ok to run freely ish for most of it.  There were 13 water/energy stations, which was way too much.  But if you were taking 5:30 hours for the halfs time limit, I can see why.  There were bands playing en route and the main strip area was well supported.  With plenty of “Good Job” and “Awesome” compliments paid, you felt well looked after.  Seemed to be plenty of toilets as well en route.  The course is mainly flat, the only turning, twisting parts in the half were after the strip area when you go more downtown to old Las Vegas.  The darkness was a problem but only in patches, in the lesser lit areas downtown, my glasses are dark tinted, but I’m usually good on my feet so I wasn’t too concerned. 


As I said earlier the pacing lady had gone off way too fast. (Turns out she did 2:18, which must have been fast then slower).  2:20 is 10:40 min miles approx, we were constantly hitting 10:30 s and couldn’t see her for any of the race.  Our plan was to keep at that pace for as long as possible and reduce it if need be.  This is where it’s good to have realistic targets of how you are currently running.  Alison thought she was ok for 2:35, would be pleased to get 2:30 and delighted with 2:25.  Baring in mind the photos, overtaking and weaving none of these were that easy for her. 


Personally I go off too fast and then pray a lot, usually the praying has little effect, so our plan of keep it steady was a good one.  Each mile was consistent once we had given up with the photos, drink stations were mainly ignored, thus sticking to our normal UK race routine of 3 miles, 6 miles, 10 and 12 miles.  That was more than ok with the cool temperatures of the night.  As you are setting off late afternoon you should be well hydrated and carbo loaded well too.  This we were.

With 5 miles to go we were looking good for 2:25.  But I had taken into account that we would probably slow through tiredness and congestion nearer the end.  Congestion was now a problem.  But by looking ahead and planning your next move you can make space, plus I find the shout of “room for a little un” unnerves our American friends a lot!.

Pace was maintained through to 5 km to go.  At this point it’s a park run distance.  At 1 km to go I’m sure that marker was way off.  We didn’t use a GPS by it seemed to be set nearer 1500 m not 1000 m.  In the end though that sustained pace towards the very end got Alison to 2:22 and a great confidence booster.  With there being no toilet stops, no puking and many minutes used up for photos and weaving, it was a great effort and time.

At the end you get your medal, water, gator aid, protein bar, choco milk and a foil blanket.  Bit of a queue for your bag, but nothing like as long as it would take here.


It terms of cost it’s a lot of money to enter.  But if you look more carefully at what you get, then look at the “runners perks” such as 2 for 1 deals on shows and dining etc it actually works out great value.  We were doing the 2 for 1 places in any case so we saved a lot.  (But then spent it in Vegas later!!!).


Great event, well worth it.