Post Race Post

WARNING: THIS POST IS HELLA LONG. It covers the race and many, many problems with it that concern safety, crowds, and more safety. Bear with it. Trust me, it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything.

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Forgive me if I didn’t post last night. I was worn out, and we got back to the hotel crazy late. Why? Well if you believe the Las Vegas Review-Journal‘s account, it was a merry, large race where people were wedded, drank lots of booze, dressed like Elvis, and trotted along the strip happy-go-lucky no problem.

Not the case. The race was a shitshow.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved it. It beats St. Louis 10 times over, and man, was I in my element: flat, just a little cold (40s), night, a big city, and I have found my race routine that really works for my body (if I’m doing a late long run like I did last night). I sleep all day, waking up only to carb, and to carb I pretty much just chow down on bland cereal and Clif Bars (but I have to start the Clif Bars early because they’re still pushing the limit for my jankety stomach.)

Running the strip was great, except I couldn’t look around because I was bumping into walking half marathoners. It was like navigating Missouri traffic: passive, slow, and no one pays attention.

OK, let me back up, or sum up I guess, then break it down, because it’s a lot.

There were some major issues with this race, and if you go to the Rock N Roll Las Vegas Strip at Night Facebook page, it’ll show you via comments left from racers what the issues were, but I’ll link to the important ones and save you some clicking.

Problems were:

  1. Bathrooms. In the beginning of the marathon race, the first 13.1 miles looped through the back ‘hoods. It wasn’t remarkable scenery, and honestly I don’t remember much. I was plugged into my audiobook (which is a great way to a. lose yourself on a long run and b. catch up on books you’ve wanted to read but haven’t had time so why not when you have 4 hours to kill?). There weren’t enough bathrooms to accommodate all the runners. Men were able to pee in bushes and on buildings, and although women have that option, it’s not as easy for us (and not something I would do in the dark in a neighborhood in Vegas). So the lines were ridiculous. I also tied my drawstring wayyyyy too tight, and with frozen fingers, I was fighting with my compression pants on my rest stops. Lesson learned: no tight knots.
  2. Separating the half-marathoners from the marathoners. Toward the end of the race, by the time some of the marathoners hit the strip, the half marathon runners were running as well (half course only went down the strip.) Problem is, there were a lot of walking halfers. Who didn’t stay in their lane. There were these petty little cones set up to make a marathon lane and a half marathon lane (which, I’d say, 15% for marathon, 85% for half. Marathoners were stuck on sidewalks at one point) with little signs on printing paper to “direct” participants. Either people didn’t notice them or didn’t care, and there weren’t race officials making sure people knew what was going on and that they stayed in their lane. So the last 13.1 miles for the marathon runners were spent ducking and dodging half marathon runners. I lost a lot of time playing bob-and-weave. By mile 17, I don’t want to be cut off. I don’t want to have to go around you. I don’t want to say “excuse me”. I want to finish. And walkers shouldn’t get in the way. Which brings me to
  3. Race etiquette. There was none. Runners cut other runners off, didn’t mind to stay in their corrals (runners are separated into corrals that marked their speed), walkers didn’t mind runners…. It was a mess. Like I said, by the late miles in the marathon, I don’t want to have to worry about dodging you, or having to start or stop. All my energy needs to be saved for making it those last few miles. I mind you, you mind me. That’s race etiquette. It’s like driving, but I guess with that comparison, I shouldn’t be surprised.
  4. Lack of supplies. Some situations were worse than others. Many runners complained of not getting a medal, or even race shirts at the Expo. The glory of registration is you know how many people will attend. If anything, you should have an excess in supplies. Supposedly 4,000 ran the marathon, 30,000 ran the half. 44,000 were expected. Either we had some running bandit, or someone botched the medal/shirt orders. Also, GU, electrolyte replacements, and water were gone for the later runners. That’s a safety concern, and shouldn’t be tolerated. Which brings me to
  5. Crowds. OK, so a night race in Vegas, who wouldn’t sign up? And sign up the runners did. Too much so. I believe it caused many of the problems listed here. People were trampled, were not in the right corrals, and there were people with too much, too little, or just the wrong supplies, and no one seemed to get what they needed. And the company wants to increase to 60,000 next year. Holy crap. If they only looked at my #6 (see below), they’ll realize that’s a huge safety hazard.
  6. Post Race Phuck-Up. Like I said, what a damn mess. Runners finished and were hustled through. I still have my chip on my shoe; no one seemed too concerned to take it off. It was packed and we couldn’t “walk it off” like we needed to because we were at a standstill. After being shuttled through some corrals (some were for post race photos, others were just to GTFO), we were hustled to “post fuel” tables where we grabbed granola bars, bananas, and bagels on the fly, then were sent on our way to either frolic in the Beer Garden or find family at the meet-up sites. Shuttles were nowhere in sight, so we all went to the closest hotels to hail cabs to somehow navigate the closed Las Vegas Boulevard. Cab lines wrapped around the inside of hotels. Runners were hungry and many restaurants were packed or closed. But the worst of it was, many runners were passing out or on the verge of it, with no medics around to take care of them. One runner, @AdrienneRunsAZ, tweeted:
.@letsrckthis got stuck shoulder to shoulder in Mandalay for about two hours. People passing out everywhere. Reports a woman was trampled.
Another runner posted on Facebook:

SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY, SAFETY!.

… the MOST concerning and important issue was the lack of crowd control and crowd management. This was an issue on the course and was dangerous but it was downright frightening inside the Mandalay Bay, while attempting to exit towards the Casino/Lobby. I saw no less than a 6 people who had actually fainted or were very close to. Sure 6 may seem like a small number (I’m sure there were many more) but again this wasn’t on the race course, this was post race. In the races I’ve particpated in or went to support others in if you need medical attention on the race course you get it but last night it was so difficult to find any Race, Hotel or Medical personnel. I literally had to stand on a rock display yelling “Medic needed” to get one girl some assistance. This was at the point in the evening when the folks going to the Michael Jackson show were trying to enter as racers and supporters were trying to exit, pure grid loc. Having this large of a crowd at a standstill for that amount of time is dangerous enough but after an endurance event like this is negligent.

Even an elite had issues with the race:
I have competed in many Competitor/Elite/Rock ‘n Roll series events going back to 1999. The problems that I saw and read about make this the worst that I’ve been involved in. Some of this is reminiscent of the first RnR Marathon in San Diego 1998 (I missed that one, thankfully) where the weather led to running out of water. Many of these problems were predictable, and should have been accounted for. Some of these are safety issues, and cannot be overlooked or forgiven. …
-Ward Reed
So, as you can see, problems. Luckily, I got the correct medal, found my family, decided not to wait in the insane cab lines and needed to find something to eat quickly, and was successful in doing so. Many restaurants weren’t available, but we were lucky enough to find one tucked in the back of the Luxor. I had been dreaming of a hamburger the whole race, something I haven’t had in years, so I said screw gluten-free/dairy free diet for that meal and ate one. It went down OK, but I do think the gluten/dairy free diet does help, so I plan on sticking with it.
Overall, the race is done, and I enjoyed it despite ducking and dodging runners, waiting for hours, and seeing other runners who were neglected (I had to check on a girl lying in a lobby as well, but she was OK). Would I run this again? I think so. Vegas is an interesting place and that always makes for a good course because there are things to look at. However, if RnR doesn’t learn from their mistakes this round, it’ll be a major fustercluck with 60k people next year.
Here’s the victory photo:
And here I am with my brother (and my parents, but they’re out of shot).
I want to thank them for coming out and supporting me. Not only did they stand out in the cold and cheered me on, they put me up in the Venetian, they treated me to the Blue Man Group, good food, and lots of love. I also want to thank my friends for the support and believing in me when I struggled with that myself. I did tear up crossing the finish line because it was my first race post-surgery, post-stomach struggles, and it showed me every time I get knocked down I get back up, but I couldn’t do that without those close to me believing that I can. Thank you all. Also, thank you, race volunteers, though you’ll never see this. You’re out there freezing for hours and despite the complaints, they are not directed at you, you all helped us so much, thank you!
I’ll let you know of my next race. Still up in the air. Gotta fly!

2 thoughts on “Post Race Post

  1. Proud of you Jess! Major accomplishment event when the situation was far from ideal or well planned. You started, busted ass and finished. Thats what matters. All the prep work, training, sacrifice, naysayers is in the past and you are the one with a smile on your face, a medal around your neck and the feeling of self pride that nothing else can trump. Kudos to you!

  2. Congratulations on your marathon finish! Sounds like you made great time despite the gridlock, but I completely agree with you on your post. I ran the 1/2 marathon and I’m a 2:00 hour half marathoner. When I registered, I put down a conservative 2:05 anticipated finish time and I was assigned corral 15. When I saw that I was in number 15, I thought, “What??? Just how many runners ARE there in this race?!”) But what was even more telling (re: runners/walkers in their right corrals) was that I was flying past other racers all the way up until mile 12! And my race pace splits were 20 seconds slower than normal! Something wrong with that picture!

    I must apologize though as I found myself in major violation of etiquette as I finally turned to dodging in between and splitting pairs of slower runners/walkers. I have nothing against running with a buddy, but three across and dead center in the roadway on a narrow course like this one?!

    This was my first nighttime race and being able to say you ran on the Las Vegas Strip for a race is something definitely different – plus, I’m a scenery person when it comes to running, so I enjoy taking in the sights, but I’ll tell you I spent a lot of time keeping an eye in front of me and to my sides to avoid running into someone and trying to stay out of the way for others. I finished in 2:02 and although disappointing time-wise, I can say that I had a good time because I ran well, I felt great, and I didn’t get trampled to death.

    Say, I don’t know if you were joking or not about your timing chip on your shoe, but those are the disposable ones (D-Tag) that more and more race organizations are starting to use. No more stooping over after a race to try and get that darn thing off your shoe!

    I hope Competitor Group (the company that now runs the Rock ‘n’ Roll racing series) takes note of the comments on their Facebook page. I will say, however, that now that I’ve done it, I think I’ll move on to a different (less overcrowded) race.

    Nice write-up, btw!

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