I made a spot-on prediction on my November 14 post: that the 40,000+ people would mean the race would be unorganized and chaotic. I had been looking at the map of the course and knew what would happen when the marathoners and half-marathoners converged:
“The race is also set up so that the marathon runners, who start first, will be getting back to the starting line/the halfway point right when the half marathon runners start. So it’s going to be total chaos. I know that when you have to dodge around people you typically don’t have your fastest time, so I’m not counting on it this time around.”
What I didn’t foresee? The walkers in the front corrals (I kid you not, I was in corral 15 and I had to weave around a ton of walkers in the first 4 miles of the race) and the complete lack of volunteers or race officials on the course directing the traffic. My first 5k split was much slower than I wanted–about 26.30–because there were so many people who didn’t start in their assigned corral (and no race officials to enforce this).
After around 4 miles I noticed that there was a “marathon” lane on the left-side of the street. This was a tiny lane, about 8 feet wide, marked off by small traffic cones. Hell, I had a marathon bib, so I decided to run on the side of the marathon lane (so that all the fast marathoners could still pass me). I actually got in right behind the 3:30 marathon pace group and stayed with them until about mile 11. So the marathon lane saved me and my time personally (although I didn’t cross the 10k half marathon split mat because I was in the marathon lane…I almost considered doubling back to cross it but then I thought what the hell, I didn’t need to know that time anyways).
Just the sheer craziness of all the walkers and slower runners in the front corrals and in the marathon lane made me so happy that I
decided not to couldn’t run the marathon. And I’m not even sure I could have done 26.2 with my sore throat (I had tried to numb it with some OTC medicine before the race so it wasn’t that bad…until after the race when it really started hurting).
One more thing that I forgot to mention is that the finish line was like a zoo. The crowd of people at the finish actually prevented me from crossing the finish mat (this was a common complaint that I read on the RnRLV facebook page). I came to a screeching halt about 4 feet from the actual finish line. Much of this was a result of the pictures that Competitor group decided to take (to make more $$…all runners are commodities at the Rock n Roll races lest we forget), which backed everyone up over the finish line. I tried to reach out my foot to get my chip over the finish line mat but no dice. So my official time is about 20 seconds past my own watch time, which sucks. But whatever, I’m going with my watch time on this one because I did the work dammit! 1:51: 53
[Many runners have complained on the RnRLV facebook page and many of them are similar to my complaints. Check it out if you need to hear more about the race]
Overall, here are areas for improvement for Competitor Group’s RnRLV:
1) Signage: There were no signs anywhere in Mandalay Bay! No one had any idea where anything was, including the starting line. If you know anything about Vegas casino/hotels, you know they are like huge mazes, designed to keep you walking in circles. I didn’t see one sign or race official helping anyone with directions. The result? Thousands of people walking around like zombies.
2) Enforcement of Corrals: Well this was non-existant. CG can claim that it is difficult or impossible to enforce corral assignments, but anyone who has run a large race like that knows it’s not. I’ve run the Chicago Marathon which has more runners and they were very strict about the corral assignments. CG’s failure to enforce the corrals meant that there were walkers (you read that right: WALKERS) in the first corrals. I have never done so much bobbing and weaving in the beginning of a race (and I’ve run multiple 40,000 + races including Chicago and Richmond’s Monument 10k).
3) Aid Stations: I didn’t have any problems with this because I run with a water bottle that lasts me until about mile 11. But I did see some stations that had absolutely no volunteers handing out water. That meant that runners had to get it themselves and the stations were a mess. I’ve also heard many stories from runners who were handed empty (?!) water cups or cups with dirty water (ew). My friend Sarah who ran the race (her first half!) complained of severe stomach cramps in the final miles and I know that she felt very sick all night after the race. After checking out the RnRLV Facebook page, I see now that many people are complaining of the same thing and are blaming tainted water. Oh NO they did NOT give runners–quite possibly some of the healthiest people on earth–tainted water.
Updated to include: I wanted to include an update that the water was supposedly taken directly out of fire hydrants and could have been unsanitary. My friend had also told me that she saw volunteers dipping water cups with their hands (which could have tainted the water) into trash cans. If you got severely sick, like she did, I recommend taking some legal action. There seem to be many runners who corroborated this.
I didn’t drink any water from the aid stations on the course so I might have been saved from disaster there. On a more positive note, around mile 7 there was an amazing GU station. Every single Gu flavor that you can think of. Most races just hand out one flavor of Gu (Espresso or something), but I found my favorite Jet Blackberry amidst the wonderful array of flavors available to us (I already had one in my back pocket but I took one just because I was happy to see it there)
4) Marathon Lane: I mentioned this before, but the lane for the marathon runners was too small and was overrun (literally) by walkers and slower runners. Although I didn’t run the marathon, I initially signed up for it and was immediately annoyed by what they had to endure. My heart went out for the marathoners because I know that fighting through a crowd during the second half of a marathon is the last thing you want to do). I admit that I ended up in the marathon lane for much of the race but I knew better than to go slow. I kept up with the 3:30 pace group almost the whole way and ran right next to the cones so I wasn’t in anyone’s way.
5) Finish line: I just mentioned this above but it’s worth repeating. It is annoying–not to mention dangerous– to have to come to a complete stop after running 13.1+ miles because a huge mob of people have overcrowded the finish area. I couldn’t even cross the finish mat because there were hundreds of people in my way. Everyone was yelling. It was a mess. I don’t want to say that it took away from my race high (I had just finished a race a mere 4 months after I was told by a top orthopedic surgeon that I wouldn’t run again…and I finished faster than I thought I would), but it didn’t help! I also know that a lot of runners that finished later did not even get medals because many of the volunteers took them home. For shame.
6) Transportation: This goes along with #1, signage. There were no maps posted anywhere! I had looked up a map on the website prior to the race to see where to get the post-race shuttle, but as I said before once you are actually at the event it is like a huge maze. I couldn’t remember where to go and quite frankly didn’t even know where the street was that they had posted on the website. Quick fix for this would just be maps and signs posted inside the Mandalay Bay convention center. Because I didn’t know where I was going, I didn’t take the post-race shuttle. I had to wait for an hour and a half in the taxi line and it took another 40 minutes to get back to my hotel (which was at the other end of the strip and would take 5-10 minutes on a normal night). By the time I got back and called for room service the wait for something to eat was 1 hour (all the other runners wanted to eat too). I didn’t eat until 1am. And I got up at 5:30am for my flight back to Virginia. Next time I will stay closer to the race site (although I don’t think I would want to stay at any of the hotels down at the other end except for Mandalay Bay).
Despite these snafus, the race was great! For the first time ever I ran with a camera. I was too scared to run with my nice digital camera so I attached a disposable one to my arm. When I get the pics back I’ll be sure to share them (if they’re not all dark and blurry!). I tried to get all the sights on the strip, the run through wedding chapel, some of the spectators, and more. But I know the pictures won’t truly capture what the race was like, so if anyone wants to go to Vegas with me to run the race next year let me know! I’ll know better to stay at a closer hotel (although our place at the Trump was truly amazing) so that it won’t take as long to get back after the race.
Oh, and my friend Sarah who ran her first half without even training? She finished in 3 hours and was so happy that she completed the distance. She’s awesome. It brought me back to my first year of running when just completing a distance event was a big deal.
Here are some other scenes from the start of the race
There will be many more pics of the race course to come, so stay tuned 🙂 After traveling all day yesterday to get back to Virginia I am pooped. I also need to do a detox after all that partying last week. Off to rest a bit…hope your week is going well!