The Strip just isn't the Strip without booze, live music, Elvis impersonators and, of course, the gleaming neon lights.
The Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon was no different as thousands sped along the Boulevard on Sunday in the city's first-ever nighttime marathon.
It drew 44,000 runners, making it the third largest marathon event in the country. The Strip was closed about eight hours, the longest shutdown aside from New Year's Eve.
For 41 couples, though, the event wasn't just about racing to a finish line. They took a break from the half-marathon to exchange vows in a run-through wedding ceremony complete with veils tucked into pony tails and bow ties above T-shirt collars.
Friends and family members gathered to witness the nuptials were among the thousands of spectators who lined the streets, rocking out to bands and cheering on racers with signs and words of encouragement along the 26.2-mile course that stretched to the Fremont Street Experience.
Full marathoners took off from the Mandalay Bay starting line about 4 p.m., heading west for 13 miles before looping around to the Strip for the second half. It took an hour for all the racers to make it to the starting line.
Although plenty of participants hit Las Vegas Boulevard for a party on the run, others seriously competed for the $1,000 prize. Peter Omae of Kenya won the marathon in a time of 2:29:13. Hungary's Zsofia Erdelyi won the women's portion in 2:48:58 .
START OF NEW LIFE TOGETHER
For John and Kris Altiere, 42 and 36, this marathon wasn't about making it to the finish line, but instead marked a starting line of their life together. The Atlanta couple tied the knot with 40 other newlywed partners at Mile 2 of the half-marathon.
Sixty-three couples renewed their vows with the group in front of The Mirage where the volcano fired off just as each pair kissed. With little pause for confetti throwing and some pictures, the love birds returned to the track to finish the 13-mile stretch.
"We're not worried about the time," John Altiere said just before they said "I do" at the 3 -minute run-through wedding ceremony. "We're going to run together this time."
The pair first met at a 5K about two years ago, and have completed several half-marathons together, although usually not at the same pace.
The only local couple to wed, Doug and Michelle Kurth, both 47, said they train together so a run-through wedding seemed like the perfect fit.
"On our third date, we went to the gym together," Doug said, laughing , adding that they've run a combined 1,000-plus miles in their four months of training.
For another couple, the marathon ceremony represented their "strength" in a relationship that started as high school sweethearts in New York 23 years ago. Dimitrios and Krista Mihalitsas, were reconnected three years ago, became engaged and decided to get married in the marathon just 24 hours before it started.
DRESSED FOR THE OCCASION
Some brides wore white dresses over running leggings, some grooms donned tuxedo T-shirts, but all sported running shoes for the special occasion.
Aside from the "formal" attire, runners showed off outlandish costumes from a pink gorilla suit to brightly colored tutus.
Cousins Alyssa Wunderlich, 24, and Kacie Radochonski, 25, kept warm in leggings underneath their matching pink tutus. They started running half-marathons with a group of friends and family two years ago in Chicago where they live. "And then ... there were two," states the writing on their shirts, bragging about them being the only ones from their original group to brave what is their fifth half-marathon.
Running for the first time in Las Vegas, they said they were excited for it to be at night.
"It's cool on the Strip with all the lights," Wunderlich said of the race's scenery.
The only drawback to the nighttime air: It was cold.
The National Weather Service reported the temperature dipping to the low 40s during the event.
Ann Pearce, of Southern California, decided to use her leg warmers on her hands instead, joking that her English heritage made her a practical problem solver when caught without her gloves.
The nighttime marathon did give her more time to drink, though.
"Water," she clarified. "We have to wait for the hard liquor at the finish line or we might not make it."
Review-Journal writer Patrick Everson contributed to this report. Contact reporter Jessica Fryman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0264.