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Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas returns for 2 days of magic, fun

When Ellie Stevens describes the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series Las Vegas Half Marathon, she regularly returns to two specific words.

Whether she’s explaining the feeling of crossing the finish line, running up and down a closed-off Las Vegas Boulevard or trying to convey the joyous atmosphere which surrounds the event, the core of Stevens’ message is that the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas event is fun and magical.

“I’ve never raced anything like it,” Stevens said. “I always want to be part of it every year, so I try not to be injured. I try to organize my schedule so I can race this event.”

Stevens, a Las Vegas native, can explain some of those feelings better than anyone. She was the 2022 Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon women’s division winner and will be one of the 27,000 registered participants who will once again descend on The Strip for this year’s competition.

“No running event is able to do what we’re able to do on The Strip,” race director Nicole Christenson said. “Our finish line is arguably one of the best finish lines in the world. We’re able to shut down both sides of one of the most famous streets in the world at night. We really call this the world’s largest running party because that’s what it is.

“This is not your typical running event.”

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas event consists of two days of racing and several other activities surrounding the event. The 5K race will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday in Downtown Las Vegas, while the 10K and half marathon are scheduled for a 4:30 p.m. start Sunday.

There is also a health and fitness expo before Saturday’s race at Resorts World, and a fan fest event at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center Saturday night.

According to Christenson, there are approximately 6,000 runners registered for the 5K, 5,000 participants expected for the 10K and 16,000 runners anticipated for the half marathon.

This is the 25th year of the Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series, but the 13th version of the Las Vegas event, which was started back in 2009 and didn’t run in 2020 or 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Part of the appeal is the attitude surrounding the event. Stevens said the race walks a fine line between competition and friendliness. Christenson, another Las Vegas native, added that the event planners try to make the race accessible for all levels of entrants.

“It’s aimed to be for everyone,” Christenson said. “We have elite runners. We have people trying to (record personal records). We have people who are just trying to have an awesome experience walking and running with their family.”

Hosting an event of this scale takes lots of time and cooperation. Christenson said they’re already beginning to make plans for the 2024 iteration of the running series.

The planners and the events’ partners, including the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Clark County, the city of Las Vegas, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, Las Vegas Events and Resorts World, among others, have to communicate year-round to make sure the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas event can happen every year. But the payoff makes the hard work and all the effort worth it.

“You really have to see it to believe it,” Christenson said.

Contact reporter Andy Yamashita at ayamashita@reviewjournal.com. Follow @ANYamashita on Twitter.

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