Tuesday, December 6, 2011

12/4/2011 Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas, 3:20 Pacer

Rock N’ Roll Marathons always bring some type of excitement, 2011 Las Vegas was no exception.  This race made history!  The 1st time 44,000 people hit the strip in a night time run!  5,000 of the runners were marathoners, and the remaining 39,000 were ½ marathoners.  What an incredible sight to be seen!!!  The Marathon had 3,760 finishers, and the ½ Marathon had 33,123 finishers for a total of 36,883 finishers, amazing given the size of the course!

I lead the 3:20 pace in inaugural Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon in 2009.  I had an excellent experience, many of my runners finished with me, and we were able to keep pace the entire way.  In 2009 we started the race with the ½ marathon runners, ran 10 miles on the strip before heading to the west to run 13 miles in the industrial “strip club laden” area of Las Vegas, and finished the last 3 miles on the strip.  I thought it was a PERFECT course.  The only real mishap I saw was the 1st mile mark was in the wrong spot, at .9 miles.   I heard they ran out of water for some of the “back of the packers”.  I marked all this up as “new race” and a learning curve, overall a positive experience. 

This year they changed the course so the full marathoners ran the industrial area 1st then merged with the ½ marathoners at 13.1 miles.  To add excitement they started us 1 ½ hours before the ½ marathoners, so when we hit the strip at 1:40 minutes into the race the fast 1/2ers were way ahead of us: we merged with walkers and runners about ½ our pace.  They promised to separate the ½ runners from the full runners.  To accomplish this they put cones about 16” tall about every 500’ – 1000’ with a sign saying ½ marathoners “right”, full marathoners “left”.  They gave us full marathon runners 1 lane the other 6 lanes were for the 1/2ers.   Hmmm maybe next year they can put a barricade separating us the whole way, or barricade tape, or better yet START EVERYONE AT THE SAME TIME!  I saw at least 7 people go down from tripping over the cones, I almost ran over ½ marathoners WALKING in our lane with their headphones so loud I could hear their music, even over all the noise on the strip, HOLY CRAP MAN!  I had to yell constantly for about 10 miles,” ½ Marathon to the right, full marathon to left, 3:20 pace group coming through, Please help us out”.  Every time I pleaded with the other runners to give us room they “for the most part” obliged, if they could hear me over their DAMN head phones.  My group tucked in behind me and held strong until we hit water stations, then it was like a war zone, runners & walkers stopping mid stream, stretching, taking up the entire road.  I lost 15 – 20 seconds at every water station and a percentage of my runners.  Since I was their pace leader my job was to stay on pace, to stay on pace I had to pick up the pace between each water station, it wasn’t working too well.  This is not the right way to pace a marathon, just in case you didn’t already know!!  By the time I made it to mile 23 I lost everyone in my group except for 2 runners.  They were just too tired fighting the crowds and gave up. 

My BIG question now is WHY did they change the course this year, and have the ½ marathoners start 1 ½ hours after us?  With the amount of races Competitor Group puts on worldwide you would think they would know this was going to happen and make provisions to assure their runners were kept safe.  This was a very unsafe marathon in MANY ways, read on! 

As the President of our local running club and Race Director of a few small races it is important to me every participant enjoys their run.  The people that want to compete can compete, the people that want to qualify for Boston have the chance, the people that want a PR have the ability to do so, and the folks that just want to be out there and finish have the ability to do so as well.   Everyone has a different view of what’s fun for them and what’s important to them.  It is our duty to give them the best chance possible to accomplish just that.  Rock N’ Roll Las Vegas 2011 didn’t live up to their end of the bargain for their participants.  I feel they didn’t plan on this fiasco, it happened because of a lack of foresight on their part!  So what kind of changes can be made to make sure this doesn’t happen again?  A lot can be done if they care to administer changes.  I hope they look at all the complaints positively; a lot of good can and will come out it if they choose to do so.

I finished the race with a time of 3:20:21, 21 seconds over.  This bothers me, I take pride in coming in ahead of pace.  On a positive note the bands were awesome, the distance was 26.41 miles, exactly what is expected in a big marathon, the medal was very cool, the shirt was very nice.  Competitor Group really does put on a good event, they just need to ALWAYS put safety of the runner as #1, the course always has to be perfect, they can’t run out of water/electrolyte drink, or medals. 

I was very happy with the finish area food, water, medals, and ability to get back to the Pacers Room where my wife Delores was waiting for me.  My wife Delores, her friend, Kevin Douglas and I met up outside of the pacers room and high tailed It to our hotel room for showers and clean clothes.  It is a good thing we left fast, it went very smooth for us, not so for others!

After we got cleaned up Kevin and I headed back to Mandalay Bay for our free beer.  Ok that wasn’t a good idea!  We just about made it to the “Free Beer” when we hit a wall of people in the corridor in front of Starbucks.  There was probably 3,000 people jammed in the hall going NOWHERE!  Kevin and I tried to get through just in time to get stuck right in the middle.  After 10 minutes of being crunched between 3,000 people I noticed a lady laying down in the middle of the floor and an EMT working on her.  I told Kevin we were getting the heck out of there.  We forced our way back the other direction and noticed another lady down being worked on by another EMT.  Holy Crap man this is frickin NUTS!  I was never so happy to NOT get my free beer!


  1. Glad you made it out of there intact! I'll bring you a free beer sometime, just so you don't feel like you lost out.

  2. Great even handed review, Terry. I was part of your pace group for the first half; there was a second pack of us shadowing you by about 20 yards for most of the second half, but I lost them (due to my own legs, not the crowds) in the last 5k. I think 21 seconds off is an awesome pacing job for that crowd - thanks for your hard work!

  3. Hey Terry! I finished directly behind you in Vegas on Sunday. You did a great job as the pace leader trying your best to direct traffic even though that wasn't your job. Your recap was spot on. Thanks again for being the leader for my fastest marathon yet and good luck in the future!

  4. Thanks Matt, I'll take you up on that beer!

    Keath and Dooney, I'm glad you managed to funnel your way through the masses and finished with a great time! Hopefully I'll see you at another event.