It used to be that, just before dawn in Las Vegas Boulevard was invaded by tourists stumbling down the sidewalk, clutching plastic coin trays. The pools are now rare. Sunday morning, tourists, and also all participate in the national final rodeo fans were also difficult to detect. If the strip was lively revelers Saturday night, there was not much evidence at dawn.
Gatorade and a banana peel instead of empty beer bottles, which is usually the magazine audience. Just a strip show with the athletes in the spread of the colleges as the sun peaked over the casino. It is a fashion, some decent passes to Las Vegas for the night? This has happened at least temporarily, 28 000 runners participated Zappos.com Rock n Roll Marathon and Half Marathon.
A native of San Diego Josh Cox and Poland, Dorota Gruca Cox won the marathon with a time of 2 hours, 25 minutes and 5 seconds, and Gruca with a time of 2:44:36. Scott Bauhs of Mammoth Lakes, California, and three-time Olympian Jen Rhines, Mammoth Lakes Bauhs also took the half-marathon championships with a time of 1:02:39 and 1:14:57 for Rhines. But behind the athletes had so much fun.
FAD fitness or not, some things never change Strip. Elvis impersonators? Only about 200 of them. “You will never be as popular as the Elvis of Las Vegas, “said Mark George, the St. Louis marathon participant who bought a dress made of suitable material for the race.
“If I’m going to run the Las Vegas marathon, I’m going to do it as Elvis,” added George’s friend Brad Smith, a Wisconsin resident taking on his first long race. Colorful folks? How about the Cookie Monster, Elmo and Big Bird? Show girls? Heck yes. Just ask Christina Stark of Salt Lake City, who had tall white feathers sprouting around her head and below her waist. She hoped they would help her fly.
“I came prepared,” Stark said. “I love this event. It’s on the Strip, an iconic location, it’s flat and fast and there are lots of crazy people just like me.” Speaking of crazy, shoeless Glen Raines arrived at the finish line in the first collection of runners behind the winners, both of whom accomplished the half-marathon in a little more than an hour.
Raines said he has qualified for the Boston Marathon. But no matter how well he does back East, he’s not likely to land a shoe endorsement with Nike. “I’ve been running barefoot for a year and a half,” said Raines, who wore little besides his bib number 1900. “I don’t have any knee problems, back problems or ankle problems. I am never going back to shoes.”
What’s the Strip without faux celebrities? A Blues Brothers cover band fired up participants from a stage near the starting line, belting out “Soul Man” and other hits. On the side of the road, runners paused for a photograph with Tina Turner and Elton John impersonators. They didn’t sing, but offered encouragement to the athletes.
“We’re here to help create the environment,” said Minnie Foxx, aka Tina Turner. “I love to see the unity of the community. People are so hyped, it’s awesome.” Finishing a half-marathon is difficult enough — imagine running the course as SpongeBob SquarePants. Jonathan Jefferson’s SpongeBob outfit added an extra seven pounds to his upper body. His greatest concern was not crossing the finish line, but staying upright.
“I almost took a header coming down the stairs,” said Jefferson, of San Diego. Sightseers? The event had those as well. Melanie Thatcher has lived in Las Vegas for two decades but has never seen the Strip from Sunday’s vantage point. The chance to run through the heart of Vegas without worrying about traffic is a rare opportunity.
“It’s cool to see it from that perspective; when you’re driving on the Strip, you can’t see all that,” she said. And Las Vegas wouldn’t be Las Vegas without some quickie weddings, six-minute ceremonies to be exact. Between miles two and three, workers and volunteers rushed to finish setting up the run-thru wedding stage in front of The Venetian, where 55 couples said “I do,” before continuing on the half-marathon course.
The run-thru wedding chapel has become a marathon tradition, with couples marrying one year and returning the next to renew their vows, said the Running Reverend, Jamie Firzlaff. She has officiated over the run-thru weddings for the past four years. Of the 55 couples, 22 were newlyweds. The rest were there to renew their vows.
“They’re all different, and they’re all fun,” Firzlaff said. San Diego native Jennifer Hughes ran the Las Vegas marathon five years ago but stood on the sidelines Sunday, cheering participants while waiting for the couples to arrive. Her friend, Maresa Jurczynski, planned to marry fiancé Scott Zenner.
Hughes and another bystander agreed that “it takes a special man and woman to do something like this.” And when they said “special,” they meant “nuts.” San Francisco residents Chelle Schauben and Anthea Charles waited by the wedding stage for their friend and co-worker Rhanee Parrenas. They wore homemade capes decorated with “Brides Maids Team Rhadio,” a combination of the bride and groom’s first names, Rhanee and Claudio.
By 8 a.m., all the couples had arrived for the ceremony. Everyone gathered on the canal bridge: SpongeBob SquarePants (still upright), Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, even a few homemade superheroes. Locals Marsha and Ernie Spear renewed their vows. They tried to do it last year for their 20th anniversary but didn’t register for the race in time.
Ernie Spear served his Graveyard Shift with the Metropolitan Police Department before putting on Elvis jumpsuit, sunglasses and a wig with his wife, who was dressed as Marilyn Monroe. When the 10 miles to go, he was tired. “I wish this was lower than the course would be almost ready, “he said. Parrenas and her new husband, Claudio Palma, ran the half marathon last year. When they saw the run-thru wedding chapel, he said, “Do not have any ideas, “he said. It took four months to persuade him to Palma, Parrenas said.
Does it become a tradition for them, as it has other partners? Palma shook his head without any Parrenas said “yes!” The crowd dissipated marriage brokers that turned the course. Rhadi team left Bloody Mary and mimosa.
At 10, east of the Strip was almost normal. A solitary jogger ran on the sidewalk in front of the palace, unaware of the pack runners who passes 11 km marker on the opposite side of the Strip.