Las Vegas marathon organizers revise course, put second half on Strip

Eleven weeks ago, when the announcement was made that the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon would become a night event, one thing was certain: those running in the half-marathon event would get to do so almost entirely on Las Vegas Boulevard and under the bright lights of the Strip.

But based on the 2010 course, this year's marathon participants would contest the first half along the infamous roadway, then head out into relative obscurity and darkness for most of the race's second half before reaching the finish line at Mandalay Bay. Not exactly an ideal scenario.

Event owner Competitor Group recognized that and on Monday announced a revision for the Dec. 4 race. While marathoners will cover much of the same ground, albeit with a couple of minor tweaks, they will do so in reverse order -- the first half will cover southwest Las Vegas, and the final 13 miles will be almost all on Las Vegas Boulevard.

"When we started working on courses for the night race, our goal really was to keep both races on the Strip. But it just didn't work. The timing wasn't going to allow it to happen," race vice president/general manager Adam Zocks said. "The next-best option was to do the course we did last year but get the west portion out of the way first."

Zocks said he expects that to bolster runners' spirits.

"Last year, they ran the Strip first, then had a really boring last 13 miles. This year, we'll get that done first, and in the second half, where runners need and want the energy and experience of the Strip, they're getting it," he said. "Halfway through, that's when it starts hitting you, and then there's the 20-mile wall. But in the second half of the race, you're getting the energy of the Strip just when you need it, when it's starting to get hard."

■ REGISTRATION REOPENED -- Registration for the marathon and half-marathon, which had been closed since a brief two-day period in March following the announcement of the night race, reopened at 12:01 a.m. today. From now through Sunday, marathon registration is $140; it will go up to $165 at 12:01 a.m. Monday. Half-marathon registration is $130 through Sunday and $140 beginning Monday.

The marathon has a cap of 5,000 participants, and in the wake of the course modification, Zocks expects it to fill up quickly.

"I think it will sell out this week," he said.

There is no cap yet for the half-marathon.

■ TIME CONSTRAINTS -- Shutting down the Strip at night, even on a Sunday, did force Competitor to tighten time limits this year.

The marathon (4 p.m. start) will have a time limit of 4 hours, 30 minutes, and the half-marathon (5:30 p.m. start) will have a limit of four hours.

Contact reporter Patrick Everson at or 702-383-0353.