Strip At Night (RnRLV Changes)

Las Vegas Strip
Image via Wikipedia

Big news this week in terms of the Las Vegas Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon & half marathon, the first being…. the race will now be run at night!

The Las Vegas Strip is pretty impressive at any time of day, no doubt about it, but the real glitz and glamour and magic and drama happen when the sun goes down and the neon turns on. Whenever I’m driving home from Utah at night and see the glow of Vegas as I come over the hill, something inside me just feels a little more… alive.

So the races will begin in the evening… the full marathon starting at 4:00 PM and the half starting at 5:30 PM. (And to quote the organizers… times are subject to change!) Since the race is in December, it will be completely dark as the half starts and pretty solidly into dusk for the marathon.

The other big changes come to the full marathon… it is capped at 5000 runners and it has a time limit of 4 hours and 30 minutes. That is a TIGHT time limit and will exclude a lot of finishers from the past. I can understand that it is hard to get Las Vegas roads closed down, in particular The Strip region, so obviously they can’t just keep it closed down for hours upon hours. But that faster time frame does seem to be in conflict with the model of the Rock ‘n’ Roll series, which to me has always seemed like a moving party that caters to and welcomes all abilities. (Okay, I feel lots of races are a moving party, races are fun!)

A lot of people are complaining about the price, which is definitely steep. They had special earlybird pricing on March 8-10: $121 for either distance. Registration will shut down until May at which time prices will range from $130 to $175 depending on the distance and the date. Many of my friends here feel there should be a locals pricing, which would be kind of attractive, but I don’t see it as being probable. Unlike the overpriced shows in the area that have long runs and frequently offer a locals rate, this race is just once a year, not the same business model.

Many are saying the organizers are being greedy with these fees… but after learning what barricade plans for the upcoming Summerlin Half Marathon cost, I can only imagine that it is A LOT more for the busier area that is The Strip.

I do think it would be cooler if the race was on Saturday night, instead of Sunday night. Then people could still get a little bit of time to “play” in Vegas on Sunday (the way so many people plan to play here) and/or travel home for work. The Sunday night makes it harder for people to travel home after the race, unless they want to take a red-eye in the middle of the night.

I’m sure the race will sell out, it’s sparked a lot of discussion online, no matter how excited or angry people are with the change it’s generating buzz. I’m not worried about securing a spot, because I’ll be covering the course as a coach with Team Challenge once again. From my point of view, the challenges I’m facing are on helping my team know how to fuel for a night race (that’s a challenge!) as well as being able to pick my runners/walkers out of the crowd when it’s dark… that’s hard enough when it is light outside!

What do you think about the race being at night? Does that make it seem more exciting to you, silly or indifferent? What about the fees, do you have budget caps on what you’ll spend on a race?


  1. The marathon cut off really surprised me, but I don’t want to do a full marathon again, so it didn’t bug me too much. But that cut off eeks a lot of people out of registration.

    I was going to pass on the Vegas 1/2 again this year… but the fact that it’s at night? Totally won me over and I registered. I think it’s cool. And way better than being corralled for 90 minutes at 4:30am. $112 early bird didn’t make me blink.

    I really love my training buddies and friends made through endurance sports, I do… but I have laugh when they complain about pricing. What the heck else are you going to do after spending $250 – $400 a month on coaching?? That’s why I called them a bunch of cane-waving old ladies πŸ˜‰

    • People who were saying they’d rather spend $175 on a nice meal out were making me laugh. I just don’t think I’d get the same feeling of accomplishment from polishing off a steak as I would from a medal!

  2. I ran the full marathon last year and enjoyed it a lot, but I think we are going to skip it this year with all of the changes. I am not worried about the cut off time, but it really seems like this is a half marathon race, with the full marathon as an afterthought. I think it would be fun to run the strip at night but I worry about eating the day of and sitting around waiting all day (I much rather prefer to run in the morning) and between the cost and hassle of trying to get home on a Sunday night or early on Monday with so many others, we will choose a different race.

    I wrote about it on my blog a couple of days ago. πŸ™‚

    I think it’s awesome you are a coach. You are right, it will be tough to find your runners in the dark!

  3. I agree…running the strip at night would be a complete kick in the pants, but Sunday night is problematic since I teach on Monday and it’s pretty tough to cancel classes at the college in December with finals looming and all…Maybe when I see my fall schedule, I’ll be able to swing it.

    I agree…it seems like it’ll become more a 1/2 marathon race (like the San Jose 1/2). I have friends who have fun the full, it seems like the best part is the part run on the strip. The rest of Vegas around the strip is pretty industrial (unless they run out to where you live…but that’s pretty far!)

    • Yeah, I think the Sunday night is going to be an issue for a lot of people!

      We’ll have to see how they tweak up the full marathon course with this change, because I agree the industrial areas SUCK and would SUCK MORE if it was in the dark. I’ve heard rumor it will all be on the Strip, thus the different start times for the 2 races.

  4. Sunday night is a bummer, but I think the race will make up for it for sure!

    I’m like you, though, worried about being able to spot the participants. We’ll have to get glow in the dark jerseys for this race! πŸ™‚

    • I think the atmosphere and environment will make the experience even more memorable for TC runners. I’ll have to see if I can find glow-in-the-dark iron-ons for my jersey or something! LOL!

  5. I am *so tempted* to do this run. I’m just not sure I am ready for a half yet! I love the idea of running The Strip at night. We’ll see if I can get it together…

  6. I like the idea of a half or a full marathon at night in theory, but I think in practice it would be pretty hard (for fueling reasons like you say, and also just because you’d have to sit around all day, like another commenter mentioned). The price really blows me away. I definitely have a cap on race entry fees, and while I’ll pay more for a marathon, I really couldn’t afford to pay that much! Plus for people coming from out of town I’d imagine it would end up being a pretty expensive experience overall, so I guess for some people it might end up as a combined marathon and vacation.

    • I did a race that started at midnight, that was kind of hard to fuel properly for… but it was a lot of fun too!

      Most people that come to Vegas seem to come planning to blow a lot of cash, so adding another couple hundred for the race is just another drop in the bucket, I guess.

  7. Hai Jill,

    Found your blog through the other amazing Jill from Finishing is Winning.

    I personally think it would be fun to do a marathon at night. I’m from Holland and we have a few races at night too (but shorter distances).

    Most of our marathons have time limits because they can’t keep the roads closed “forever”

    As for the fee: I’ve mentioned that on a lot of other blogs already. I can’t believe how expensive a race is in the USA. Here we pay around 30 to 40 dollar for a full marathon, a half is between 20 and 30 dollar. A 5K is below 10 dollar.

  8. i think it could be cool, but i hope they really have all the safety issues worked out… i mean darkness + runners + not always sober drivers (let’s be real who goes to vegas to not-drink, not many). plus doesn’t this course kind of go out away from the strip? is that are still somewhat populated or is that running in the desert in the dark?

    RNR races have always been way overpriced to me. i don’t really have a desire to run anymore of theirs – i don’t feel like the “premiums” are any better than any other race. (i’ve run their va beach 1/2).

    running at night is cool for a change – i do a local-ish (~50min drive) race that is held at night (11pm!).

    • I’ve done the Phoenix RnR twice, the San Antonio RnR, and two Vegas RnRs… and I’d do others too. I like the party atmosphere. It is expensive, but you get a fun environment, good organization and a sweet medal!

  9. Usually i say yes, i do have a budget i won’t go over. But the BAA 5K is $45 this year and I surprised myself by paying it. but how many chances would i otherwise have to cross that finish line, especially with all the new requirements?! (Yeah, like I would have ever made it in anyway beforehand!) i can see why the locals wuold want a cheaper price, but i have to say, that wouldn’t fly around here in Boston. There are so many races, and so many of us are locals!!

    • I guess all of us have our budgets and our exceptions! I don’t have set rules in my mind, but there are some races that I just look at and think, “No way is that one worth the cost.” yet others I don’t even bat an eye because I want to do the race so much.

  10. well I registered! I’m not a fan of RnR events-I think they are way too expensive BUT I couldnt pass up the opportunity to run a night race. Hopefully some or most of the course will be on the strip-even though i have no idea how they can close the strip at night-at least it’s a sunday!!

  11. I think it would be totally sweet to run the Strip at night!!! The last time I went to Las Vegas, my gambling losses were more than the registration fee, which is probably what the organizers are counting on as a basis for comparison! The time for the marathon is tight (not that I’d qualify under the old time limit either), but almost certainly due to the location–I’m surprised they’re able to the Strip at night at all! The San Francisco marathon’s course goes over the Golden Gate Bridge, so they also have to deal with a time limit because of how long the C.H.P. will allow the bridge to be closed (6 hour time limit, a required 13:45 pace, and a marathon start time of 5:30 a.m.!)

  12. I was thinking about this some more while I took a walk at lunch. Here are some bloviations:

    Logistics–The registration cost is TOTALLY justified, because the logistics for this are NUTS! It hadn’t fully dawned on me earlier, but it’s not just the Strip that’s closing but all of the side streets too–e.g. Hacienda, Tropicana, Flamingo. That’s absolutely INSANE!!! (For those who haven’t been to Las Vegas, you may need to have some idea of Las Vegas traffic to appreciate just how mind-boggling this is.)

    Course–Any thoughts on what the course might be? (I don’t know what the previous courses were.) If people are running both sides of the strip, then theoretically the course for at least the half marathon could go all the way to Fremont Street, which would be totally cool! Run through the Fremont Street Experience! The Strip to Downtown and back!

    Reflective Lettering–I don’t know if glow-in-the-dark iron-ons exist, but you can get iron-on reflective lettering, either individual letters like this or custom emblems like this

  13. Well, it sure is pretty unusual to have a race at night. I mean, the temperature for one, is different. But then again, there are those who run during winter so the cold wouldn’t be too much of a problem. What I think, though, is that a race at night strikes curiosity so probably despite the price, there would be people who would want to try just for the experience. Is this the first night race?

  14. As cool as it’s going to be to run the Strip at night, I’m more worried about recovery. Usually after half marathons, I’ll walk for a bit, go swimming or take a shower and a light walk to keep the muscles moving. If I sit down, I’m toast! πŸ™‚ With a start time of 5:30 for the half, that puts the end at 9:30 for some people. Yikes. Not near enough time to really loosen up those muscles before hitting the hay or hopping a plane, let alone rehydrate properly.

    Looks like the course (at least for the half) is the same as last year. Flat and fast!

    Even so, I still registered. They had a early special the first 5 days registration opened for $130, now it’s $140. I know they post discounts on their twitter/Facebook sites on occasion as well.

    • I hadn’t thought of that aspect, mainly because I haven’t really needed any recovery after doing these races as a coach. But thank you for reminding me of that angle! My thoughts kept reverting to the prep side and pre-race fueling!

  15. The Las Vegas full will be my first, and the concept of running it at night in December got me to sign up. I live East, and could have done either Detroit or Columbus in October, but wanted my first 26.2 to be a destination & night time sealed the deal for me.

  16. I sent an email to the Las Vegas organizers and pointed out that 50% of the full marathon runners last year finished slower than 4:30. This means they will need to move 2500 runners off the closed road and they said they will transport the runners to the strip to finish the full. The time constraint is on the non strip part of the race which is the first half of the marathon which needs to be done in 2:15 or you get pulled. They have the strip longer until 9:30 PM so the strip is not the issue. Anyhow they will only have ticked off 50% of the marathon runners.

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