LV Marathon thoughts

Now that my quads have pretty much stopped hurting, I can offer a few thoughts about the Las Vegas Marathon 2008 and where it should go from here.

These photos of the official race t-shirt and finisher’s medal give you an idea of how minimalistic the race was this year. Just look at that shirt–no date, no snappy slogan, just the generic marathon logo. The medal, too, is a big step down from previous years.

There was no prize money offered this year, which might be why the winner’s time was 15 minutes slower than last year’s, no on-course entertainment, nothing besides water and gatorade at the water stops, and no mylar blankets at the finish. The last one is a big deal–if you’ve been running for about 4 hours then stop, you’re bound to have your temperature drop. So while they had the Elvi and the wedding chapel stuff, many of the basics just weren’t there.

The news stories made it sound like it was business as usual for the marathon this year, but actually there were many problems with the race’s management. Luckily, the company has sold the Las Vegas Marathon to the Competitor Group, which puts on Rock and Roll Marathons across the country. So in 2009 we’ll have the Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon. I’ve run in RnR events before, and they’re great, so this is a very good thing for those who want to run in Vegas.

That said, let me humbly offer a few tips to make next year’s race better.

1. No “celebrity” emcees at the race start. Inexplicably, we had Robin Leach welcoming us to the race and sending us on our way. I don’t think it contributed anything to the race at all. No offense to Mr. Leach, but he’s about the last person I need to hear talking about how hard it is to run a marathon. I don’t think you should even have a legit local sports legend like Andre Agassi, who would be able to tell us something valuable about training and competition. It’s just not the time or the place–we’re cold and we’re ready to run, and anything at the start is really just a distraction. I’d be fine if the race director just welcomed us and sent us on our way.

2. If you are absolutely bent on getting a celebrity for the race, make sure they have something to say about distance running or even just fitness in general and have them do a meet-and-greet at the race expo.

3. You don’t need any entertainment for the first six miles–you’ve already got the Las Vegas Strip for the first four, and then you’ve got downtown. Runners need the excitement most on that Carey/Smoke Ranch and Torrey Pines stretch, which is about 10 miles of a moderate incline. It would be great for the casinos to sponsor an act or two as we run down Frank Sinatra towards the end–great advertisement for the shows, too.

4. I think that the marathon will work as a serious run in a party town: don’t try to make the race itself too gimmicky. So no shrimp cocktails at the water stops or anything like that.

5. With the miscues of the past few years, the town may be short on goodwill to the marathon. But it’s a great race and an attraction that the city really needs. It’s crucial to keep residents engaged as participants, hosts, and volunteers. A little TLC for the local community will go a long, long way.

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