Thursday, August 11 2022

When Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas organizers canceled the 2020 event due to COVID-19, they didn’t want the unexpected extra planning time to go to waste.

They imagined what changes could be made so that when the current event returns, it will almost feel like a new production.

This brainstorming produced the following changes:

– The Half Marathon replaced the Marathon as the flagship event, keeping the main race entirely on Las Vegas Boulevard.

— The 10 kilometer race will start at the same time as the half-marathon and will mostly follow the same route.

— The Raiderettes and the Drum Line of the Golden Knights and the DJ Joe Green team will welcome the runners at various locations.

– A live feed of the races will be shown on the 100,000 square foot LED screen at Resorts World Las Vegas.

It’s all just Sunday around the half marathon and 10K, which start at 4:30 p.m. on the boulevard between Harmon and Park avenues. A 5K was held in downtown Las Vegas on Saturday, and Resorts World held a three-day health and fitness expo before Sunday.

“What we’ve really done is take the last two years (and) reinvent the whole experience and we’re super excited to be back on the Strip,” Race Director Nicole Christenson said. “It’s probably the most unique racing experience in the world. We really create this unforgettable experience where a person can walk down a closed Las Vegas boulevard at night.

Christenson didn’t rule out bringing the marathon back at some point, but said it wasn’t likely, at least in the short term. Participating in a half marathon appeals more to casual runners.

“We’re kind of this amazing racing party in the entertainment capital of the world,” she said. “So our attendees are really more here for the party and the experience of running on the Strip at night and less the serious runners trying to PR (personal best). We obviously welcome all runners, but if you look at the demographics participants, that’s what we see.

About 35,000 runners signed up, about the same number as in 2019, the last time the event was held before COVID. Direct spend that year was $110 million, according to Las Vegas Events.

LVE President Pat Christenson, Nicole’s father, said the economic impact will be more widespread this year as the downtown area hosted the 5K.

He also called the move to the half marathon “so much better for Vegas.” Quite frankly, do we want a guy who’s going to come in here and run 26 miles? What is he going to do ? He goes to sit in his room. The rest of this crowd is out and about in town.

Nicole Christenson said the runners were hungry to travel and specifically return to Las Vegas. They were enrolling steadily even before the recent plunge in COVID cases following the December and January surge of the omicron variant. She said 92% of the land came from out of town.

Organizers are thrilled to attract such a big line-up, Nicole Christenson said, but they’re also not happy with maintaining the status quo.

“As we look forward to ’23, ’24 and ’25, we certainly hope to grow the event,” she said.

Contact journalist Mark Anderson at [email protected] To follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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