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Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon

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Updated December 11, 2013

Written or reviewed by a board-certified physician. See About.com's Medical Review Board.

Running Elvises

Race with Elvis

Wendy Bumgardner © 2009
Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Medal

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Medal

Wendy Bumgardner © 2009
Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon

Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon

Wendy Bumgardner © 2009

About the Event:
The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon is open to runners and walkers. The event debuted in 2009 as part of the Rock 'n' Roll series by Competitor Group. It replaces the marathon and half marathon run by Devine Sports from 2005 to 2008.

The half marathon has a walker-friendly time limit of four hours. The time limit for the marathon in 2014 is five hours, making it out of reach of most walkers other than world-class racewalkers. It is enforced at cut-off points.

Date and Location:
The event will be held in mid-November in 2014, a move it made in 2013 from its previous December date.The start/finish is near Mandalay Bay, on the far south end of the Las Vegas Strip. For 2011-2014, it starts in late afternoon as a "Strip At Night" race. The time limit for the half marathon is four hours. Walkers starting in the final corrals do not start for more than 30 minutes after the gun.

Registration:
Register online. Prices that start at $120, but sometimes there is a pop-up one-day discount or discounts for previous participants. Packet pickup is at the Expo in the two days before the race day. Packet pick-up on race day may be offered for a premium price, but it is best to time your arrival to Las Vegas to go to packet pick-up before race day.
Register for the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half-Marathon

The Course:
The half-marathon course is on the Las Vegas strip and through downtown Las Vegas. The marathon diverges from it. The area is flat with only slight uphill and downhill stretches. It is a certified marathon course and a Boston qualifier. As typical of the Rock 'n' Roll series of events, 24 bands perform along the route.

Walker Friendly:
The finish stays open for four hours for the half marathon. The time is adjusted to account for the starting time of the last corrals (which is usually an hour after the starting gun.) Water stops remained open for the slower racers, although they have sometimes run out of energy gel for walkers. The finish has been open and welcoming for the half marathon four hours after the last corrals started each year. The finish was well stocked with a full range of food items at that time, although specific items may run out at any time. It was a very walker-friendly event for those who can finish in the stated time.

Medal and Shirt:
All registrants receive a short-sleeved technical T-shirt and goodie bag at the Expo, with medals for finishing. The shirts and medals are different colors and designs for the marathon and half marathon.

Weather and Parking:
Typical afternoon temperature for mid-November is 60-70 degrees, and it can be very windy. At night, it can cool down below freezing. Rain and snow are rare but possible. In 2012, it was 68 degrees at start time and stayed balmy throughout the race -- bring shorts! Many racers had to buy them because they didn't pack them. It is best to come dressed in layers. If driving, plan for an extra 60 minutes to 90 minutes in detours and traffic jams, plus a half-mile walk to the start. Study the race materials carefully to see the starting line and finish line layout and suggested transportation.

Review of the 2013 "Strip at Night" RNR:
The event changed to mid-November. The race expo moved to the Las Vegas Convention Center. The weather was pleasantly warm during the day and it definitely was right to wear shorts and a short-sleeved shirt for the race as the temperatures started in the low 60's F. By the end of the race, my hands were getting a little cold. The start and finish process went smoothly without overcrowding. The water stops were well-staffed and the finish line had plenty of medals and heat sheets and food left for the walkers finishing in over 3.5 hours. I would recommend having a head lamp or lighted hat for a few places on the course with poor lighting and for inside the portable toilets.
Review: 2013 Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Review of the 2012 "Strip at Night" RNR:
With the extreme problems the race had in 2011, they had a drop-off in registration and had 32,000 racers in 2012. Those racers saw that they corrected every problem noted in 2011 and restored the event to the fun, well-designed event it should be for the pricetag.
Review: 2012 Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Review of the 2011 "Strip at Night" RNR:
The event faced massive congestion in 2011. Walkers who started in their designated corral at the back of the race had a far better race experience than the 40,000 runners ahead of them. But getting to the right corral was almost impossible in the congestion. Changes will need to be made for coming years. Also, they ran out of medals for the finishers by the time I finished. Full review: 2011 Las Vegas Strip at Night Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Many racers reported vomiting and diarrhea during or after the race, prompting the Southern Nevada Health District to conduct a survey and analyze responses looking for a common source. While some racers took issue with serving racers fire hydrant water at water stops, the health district's outbreak analysis suggested that the water was not the source of illness. Experts suggested that it is more more likely that the diarrhea was due to a virus being passed around no later than 24-26 hours before the race, which became symptomatic during the stress of the race. Additional testing for possible viral causes is ongoing.

My opinion on the use of hydrant water and possible sources of the illnesses.

Sources:

Brian Labus, MPH, Senior Epidemiologist. "Gastroenteritis Outbreak Among Competitors at the 2011 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon & 1/2 Marathon - Interim Report." Southern Nevada Health District. December 15, 2011

Christopher S.D., et.al. "Hyponatremia among Runners in the Boston Marathon." N Engl J Med 2005; 352:1550-1556. April 14, 2005

Photos and Report of the Las Vegas Half-Marathon 2009:
I walked the inaugural Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Half-Marathon in 2009. Previously, I walked the New Las Vegas Half Marathon in 2006 and 2007, before the event was replaced by the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half Marathon. The Elite Racing production was far superior for organization, overcoming the snags seen at previous versions.

The Expo was almost worth the trip itself, featuring dozens of booths for running and walking apparel and gear. Running Elvises pose for photo ops with the racers and everyone is ready for a good time. Couples register to get married or renew their vows at the run-through wedding chapel on the course.

It is a blast to walk the full length of the Las Vegas strip. On-course support was excellent for the half marathon route, with plenty of water and Cytomax electrolyte drink, plus a GU energy gel stop that was still stocked for the slower walkers and runners. Porta-johns were provided at each mile, plus the racers had access to all of the casinos and restaurants along the Strip.

The course was well marked, with the splits staffed to ensure racers headed the right way.

In 2009, the bands were excellent and I was happy to switch off my iPod and listen to the live music at regular intervals.

With over 25,000 racers, walkers can expect to be in the final corrals and wait 45 minutes or more to start after the starting gun. Be prepared for cold temperatures while you wait. In 2009, racers were not locked into their corrals and I waited by the row of porta-johns until my corral was ready to start. Many racers arrived late due to parking and transport but didn't have to worry due to the long wait for the final corrals to start.

The race enforces its time limits for the marathoners with two cut-off points. As of 2011, the time limits for the marathon do not allow for walkers.

While this is a mostly flat course, it can be challenging with cold and wind and racers may not achieve their best times. For 2009, temperatures were around the freezing mark. I used a windbreaker, long sleeved technical t-shirt, running pants, gloves and ear-covering hat. I carried a light backpack to stow my gear in as I warmed up. In past years, temperature have gone from 30F at the start to 60F four hours later.

This is a race I would happily do every year.
Las Vegas Rock 'n' Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon Photo Gallery

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