In the first two years of the New Las Vegas Marathon, the race attracted elite runners, but no real headliners as marathoning goes.
That could change for this year's race -- along with the event's name, which has dropped "New" now that the marathon and half-marathon seem to have caught on with the course featuring the Strip and Fremont Street Experience.
Apparently, the course and perhaps the male-female challenge -- worth $50,000 last year for the event's elite runners -- caught the eye of Lidiya Grigoryeva, who last month took the women's title at the Boston Marathon.
"We have not been really big into the acquisition of major elite runners," race president Bill Burke said. "But her agent called us and said she wants to ... compete in the challenge. So the reputation of the Las Vegas Marathon, in its infancy, is certainly growing."
This year's event is Dec. 2, and Burke said he expects the trend of larger fields for the marathon and half-marathon to continue. In 2005, the marathon drew about 11,000 runners; last year, with the addition of the half-marathon, approximately 16,000 competed.
Burke said 20,000 is a possibility, though he's never put stock in his ability to project.
"I've been in this business almost a quarter-century, and for 25 years, I've been 100 percent wrong on projections," said Burke, president of the Los Angeles Marathon since 1984. "I just want this event to continue to grow."
* CASINO TRAINING PROGRAM -- Race officials last week announced they will offer the Las Vegas Roadrunners training program for free to one employee from each of the major casinos. The 28-week program, which boasts it can take participants from "couch to finish line," generally costs $95.
Burke said he hopes to offer the program to all casinos.
"It's important locally to have casino involvement, and I don't think there's any easier way than to get a competitive situation between the casinos in town," Burke said. "We know the casinos are the largest employers in Clark County, and we wanted to take a leadership role in corporate wellness."
Go to lvmarathon.com for contest information.
Winners and others interested will be invited to participate in a walk/fun run May 26 to launch the program. The 1-mile event will go from Mandalay Bay's South Convention Center to the Excalibur.
* RUN-THROUGH WEDDING CHAPEL -- The run-through wedding chapel, set at Mile 5 each of the past two years, will return this year. Approximately 20 couples have signed up. Go to lvmarathon.com for more information or to sign up.