Early registration deadline for Las Vegas marathon nears

If you're considering lacing up your running shoes and taking to the Strip on the evening of Dec. 2, you might want to make that decision before midnight Tuesday.

And if you're hoping to convince a few friends to join in the craziness of the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon/Half-Marathon, well, get them to sign up by Sept. 30.

In either case, there's money to be saved by registering sooner, rather than later. The fee for the half-marathon - the far more popular of the two races - will go from $165 to $175 beginning Wednesday, and the marathon fee will go from $170 to $185.

If you can't make up your mind over the next two days, you can still save some cash. The event is running a buy-three-get-one-free registration special through Sept. 30, and even runners who have already registered can take advantage of it.

The entry incentives are among several things race organizers are doing to improve the Rock 'n' Roll experience.

And Competitor Group vice president Adam Zocks noted there is one more incentive over the next two days: $10 off by using the codeword "COUNTDOWN."

"It's just another incentive to get people to register now and help them save a few dollars," Zocks said. "And with the buy-three-get-one-free, it's the incentive to register now, and come with some friends, make it a group outing. That's something many runners do anyway in Las Vegas - girls weekend, guys weekend, family outing."

For more information, go to runrocknroll.competitor.com/las-vegas.

■ COURSE CHANGES - There have been some significant changes to the course for both races, primarily to help address crowding issues that hindered the 2011 race.

The start line will be on the Strip at Dewey Drive and Las Vegas Boulevard, near Mandalay Bay. Runners will head south in the northbound lanes for the first mile before making a U-turn, then heading north in the southbound lanes.

The run-thru wedding chapel will be at New York-New York, at approximately Mile 3.

While the half-marathon will continue to be run almost entirely on Las Vegas Boulevard, making its way around the Fremont Street Experience and the downtown area, the marathon course will head west/northwest after going through Fremont Street. Participants will traverse north on Martin Luther King Boulevard, then west on Washington Avenue and north on Decatur Boulevard, before turning around north of Smoke Ranch Road and retracing that segment of the course while making their way back to Las Vegas Boulevard.

The biggest change, though, is the finish. For several years, the event has ended at Mandalay Bay. This year, both races will end at the Mirage, a move that should help avoid the massive crowding issues - and subsequent complaints - that arose after last year's event, which drew approximately 40,000 participants.

"The post-finish line area is a long, straight, secure zone," Zocks said. "There are no turns, because any turns slow things down. This setup keeps runners moving. And it's 20,000 square feet larger than last year."

In 2011, most participants tried to make their way into Mandalay Bay after the race. With the new setup, runners can disperse to numerous venues.

"There are 50,000 rooms spread out among 10 to 12 hotels within a one-mile walk from the finish line," Zocks said.

■ TRAINING PROGRAM UNDER WAY - The Crohn's and Colitis Foundation, the primary charitable beneficiary of the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas event, is again running its Team Challenge endurance training program. The program helps participants build their endurance and prepare for a successful race experience through personalized training, while also helping the foundation raise money.

For more information, go to ccteamchallenge.force.com/halfmarathon.

Contact reporter Patrick Everson at peverson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0353.