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Rock ‘n’ Roll to rock Strip with large field

Later this year, as the sun sets on a December day, thousands upon thousands of people will descend on the Las Vegas Strip, in a festive mood and ready for a good time.

And, oh yeah, there’s that New Year’s Eve thing, too.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon and Half-Marathon got clearance earlier this year to move its event from the crack of dawn to the evening — prime time on the Strip. And the results, in terms of registration, have been exactly what organizers expected. And maybe even a little more.

The overall field for the Dec. 4 event had already reached 33,000 by Tuesday, 5,000 more than in each of the first two years under the Rock ‘n’ Roll banner. The marathon, capped at 6,000, already has more than 5,900 entrants, and those last few spots won’t last much longer.

“If you’re looking at running the full, you probably have about four days left to register,” said Adam Zocks, vice president and general manager of the race.

Zocks said he expected the marathon to sell out by this point, but the total number of runners — with time to add several thousand more — has been an eye-opener. The half-marathon, at the moment, has no cap.

“I actually expected the marathon to fill out quicker,” he said. “The bigger surprise is the overall number. We’re well past what we finished at the last two years. We’ve got two months to go. The question is: What will the total be? Thirty-five thousand is a lock, and 40,000 is possible. It could very well happen this year.”

Though the move to a night race on Las Vegas Boulevard seemed natural, there was some trepidation, based on the standard routine of runners.

“We knew there was some risk,” Zocks said. “We didn’t know how the runners would respond to a night race at those distances. There’s a tradition of running a half- or a full marathon first thing in the morning, and the whole runner mindset is on what to do the day before, the night before, when to eat, when to sleep.

“The allure of running on the Strip at night did what we thought it would do. It tells the runner, ‘Yeah, it’s a little different, but look at what you get to do.’ And that’s why we are where we are with the numbers right now.”

■ FOOD FESTS — With the new start times — 4 p.m. for the marathon and 5:30 for the half on a Sunday — comes the ability to offer more to participants throughout the weekend. And food is definitely the recurring theme.

A carb-loading pasta party has been a staple the Saturday night before the race, but many runners didn’t attend, preferring to get a full night’s sleep for the early Sunday start. Now participants can hit the pasta party and more on Saturday.

“Saturday night now comes into play,” said Zocks, noting more than 1,000 have already signed up for the dinner at Mandalay Bay. “Now you can go to the pasta party or dinner on your own, go to a show, hit the casino and sleep in on Sunday.”

And on Sunday, there’s now a pre-race brunch, also at Mandalay Bay.

“If you’re running at night, you have to have a decent meal at midday,” Zocks said. “So go to brunch, and you’ll be ready to run by late afternoon.”

There will also be two official postrace parties, at Encore’s XS Nightclub and LAVO at The Palazzo.

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

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

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