- 13.1 miles/Half Marathon, 100 miles, Relay
- Road Race
My husband initially stumbled upon this race when searching for “fast, downhill half marathon races.” We were immediately intrigued by the race day and location: a Saturday race in close proximity to Las Vegas. Perfect. We could spend the rest of the weekend celebrating our race successes (or drinking away our failures).
EXPO & SWAG:
The expo for the race is in a convention center in Henderson. Although the expo is quite small (one ballroom in the convention center), it's easy to find, parking is plentiful (and free!), and it has all of the essentials. My only complaint was with the finisher shirts. My shirt tore at the sleeve after just one use. While I was able to sew it up to fix it, it still put a damper on my experience.
We woke up on race morning to windy, unseasonably chilly, and rainy weather. We donned some extra layers and arrived at the start, just in time to see the race officials disassembling the inflatable start line tunnel. With rain pelting us from all angles, we sprung from the car and frantically questioned everyone in sight, “What’s going on?” “Why are they removing the start tunnel?” “Is the race canceled!?” Our concerns were laid to rest when we got word from race officials that the race was ON! I waited in the car until just before the race to avoid the rain. I attempted to use the porte-potties, but unfortunately did not have enough time for my bathroom break pre-race.
PROS: The rain slowed to a light drizzle as we made our way to the start tunnel (which was now fully raised!). My first few miles flew by, thanks to the (mostly) downhill course. I thought my GPS watch was damaged by the rain as I saw my splits: 6:21, 6:28, 6:36. I knew that I couldn’t sustain that pace for the entire race. Just as I was coaxing myself to slow down, I encountered a massive hill, perfectly positioned at mile 4. While in other instances this might have frustrated me, this was a welcomed surprise at this point in the race. Another perk of this course is that it is incredibly scenic. The course winds along Lake Mead, taking runners through old railway tunnels used to create the Hoover Dam. It is exceptionally beautiful, and provides a wonderful distraction when you're feeling fatigued during the race. I also appreciated that this course is very spectator-friendly. My in-laws (who drove 5 hours to cheer for us) were able to drive to several different points on the course and easily see my husband and I multiple times. This was huge for us, since I always feel so bad when family or friends travel and only see us pass by for a split second.
CONS: Right around mile 8 in the race, the mostly downhill course altered in elevation. The course demanded that we then run almost two miles steadily uphill to a turnaround point before proceeding downhill to the finish. At this point in the race, the uphill was not as well received by me. I was a bit tired, so covering the steady incline so close to the end was a challenge. Another challenge was that it was difficult to know my exact pace or mileage. Because the course goes through old railway tunnels, GPS does not always work properly.
At the end of the race, we had to choose to run through either a saints or sinners finish tunnel. I crossed through the saints tunnel, with a PR of 1:31 and as the 2nd overall female. Though I didn’t see Matt’s finish, he also opted for the saints tunnel. It was still a bit rainy at the finish, but there were bathrooms that we used to change into dry clothing. There were also saints (fruit, pretzels, etc) and sinners (cookies, donuts, etc) refreshments. I liked how creative they were in infusing the theme of the race throughout even the smallest elements of race weekend.
Despite the rainy day and surprise hills, I was taken aback by the scenic course. I highly recommend this course to anyone searching for a winter destination race. Vegas is in close proximity, and the race takes place on a Saturday, so it's easy to turn this race into a weekend getaway, too!