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Marathon ups its stake in Las Vegas event

In December 2011, the Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon/Half-Marathon was contested at night, on the Strip, for the first time. And it did not go well, to put it mildly. Such events are entirely about logistics — having everything in place to ensure as little difficulty as possible for 35,000-plus runners, as well as spectators and residents inconvenienced by street closures.

A year and a half ago, there were myriad issues getting all those participants from point A to point B — most notably in the finishing village outside Mandalay Bay, where runners backed up like cattle and faced extensive delays trying to get onto shuttles and back to their hotels or homes.

Then there was the water issue, as well. A few hundred among the huge field complained of illness suffered during and after the race, and they pegged the race’s water as the culprit. The Southern Nevada Health District ultimately dismissed that theory, but the public relations damage lingered for San Diego-based Competitor Group, the race’s owner.

Many events would have folded after suffering such blows. But Competitor Group roared back last December with a new Strip course that dramatically improved the flow of the race and allowed runners to get back to their hotels. And even though Competitor Group was cleared in the water controversy, water and sports drink stations along the course were revamped with a much more sanitary — and expensive — delivery system.

Instead of backing away, Competitor Group upped its investment in Las Vegas. Thursday, the company tripled down. This year’s event will have three races: the marathon, half-marathon and the new “Half of The Half” marathon — a 6.5-mile race. This opens the event to many more casual runners — and likely many more local runners — who will be able to soak in all the atmosphere of the Strip and the Fremont Street finishing area, even if they lack the physical conditioning required to complete a 13.1-mile or 26.2-mile race.

Additionally, the event will move up a couple of weeks, to Nov. 17, which will fill a lot of Strip hotels at a typically slow time of year. The prospect of better weather is a bonus, too.

Are these business moves on the Competitor Group’s part? Absolutely. But these are also moves to strengthen the event’s ties to this community. It’s good business for everybody involved — Competitor Group, the city, the Strip properties, race sponsor Zappos (headquartered downtown), and most importantly, the participants. Bravo to Competitor Group for raising its stake in this event.

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