The Las Vegas Marathon has been around since the late 1960s. The route, location, start time, race directors, etc… have all changed numerous times over the years and the race has always gotten mixed reviews. A few years ago though, there was one change made to it that really intrigued me – it was held at night. In 2009, Competitor Group bought the rights to the race and incorporated it into the Rock N Roll Marathon Series and a couple years later the Competitor Group management team in a stroke of genius somehow managed to convince the city of Las Vegas to completely shut down several miles of Las Vegas Boulevard (aka the strip) to automobile traffic for several hours on a Sunday evening to allow participants to run down the strip at night.
I know that there are other races in Nevada that get better reviews than this one but as part of my quest to run a half marathon in all 50 states, one of the things I look for each time I sign up for a race is its ability to provide me with an opportunity to go running somewhere that I wouldn’t normally be able to (across the Golden Gate Bridge, a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, through infield at Churchill Downs, etc…) and running down the middle of the Las Vegas Strip at night past all of the famous hotels and casinos while they were all lit up at night fit that bill perfectly.
My original plan was to run Vegas in 2011 – It’s held in December and since I had done the Atlantic City Half Marathon that October, my initial thought was that running down the Atlantic City Boardwalk and the Las Vegas Strip in the same year would be pretty cool. Unfortunately though, it was not meant to be. I was leading a CRM implementation at a fortune 500 retail company at the time and the Vegas Marathon fell on the same weekend as one of our bigger go-lives, so not only did I have a major conflict during the weekend of the race itself, but I was also putting in 80+ hour work weeks during the month or so leading up to it, so I had no time whatsoever to train.
Luckily I realized that all of this was going to be an issue early enough that I was able to just skip registering for the race altogether without having to lose out on the registration fees, etc., but I was still disappointed – this wasn’t the first set of race plans that I had to cancel because of this job and the long hours I was putting in were starting to make me feel burnt out and affect my health, not to mention the fact that I felt lucky to get one or two runs in per week, which I was not a big fan of either. Instead of dwelling on how unhappy I was though, I used whatever spare time I did have to start thinking through a few ideas around how I could come up with an even better plan for the following year. Finally it dawned on me that since this race is at night, what if I were to find another race in the morning and do two in the same day? I still wasn’t sure how everything was going to work out yet at that point, but early on in 2012, I started looking online to see what other races were scheduled on the same date that looked interesting…. and then I found the perfect race – a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico. At that point it dawned on me that not only should I look for another race on the same day… I should do two half marathons in two different states in the same day!
I figured this would be an awesome adventure (not to mention that if I was able to pull it off, I would be able to knock out two states in one trip). The experience ended up being everything that I had hoped for, but I had to spend several months planning for it. My next few posts will be about training, logistics, reviews of the races themselves, and some other fun stories from the trip. Stay tuned….