RACE RECAP: Big Game – Downtown Las Vegas

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It has been a few weeks since Bro and I had participated in a race, so we were both anxious and excited to get back on the course.

Unfortunately, the week leading up to the Big Game race, I was experiencing some achilles tendon issues and by Thursday, I realized that I would not be able to race the event.  I was hopeful I could run a strong race.  Most importantly, I was excited that Bro was going to drop the hammer on the 10k. While his fitness and speed is not up to where he was pre-surgery, he certainly was doing very well.

I woke up with a headache and horrible stomach distress.  I seriously thought about DNSing the race, but I knew I could manage a 5k, somehow.  Had it been a half marathon, I knew I could not do it.  I spent a great deal of time in the bathroom in the night so I was tired and probably somewhat dehydrated.

The starting line was in Downtown Las Vegas.  After all these years of racing, I was finally able to race in DTLV.  I had participated in the Santa Run, but nothing else. 

At the race expo we were given the option of a black and white shirt, to choose a “Superbowl team”.  That just seemed odd.  Why black and white?  That concept didn’t seem to go over too well on race day.

The morning of the race, was a beautiful sunny morning.  (Originally, I planned to wear my capri’s but opted to wear my shorts after all.)

I fueled up with Glukos Energy tables and RunGum

At 8am was the 5k start and 8:30am was the 10k start.  This way, I could see my brother finish his 10k.  YAY!

5K Started and we immediately took a left on Las Vegas Blvd (not the Strip, but in the DT area).  Making our way through 1-2 hair pin turns, we turned left onto 10th and the Finish line was in sight.  I tried so hard to pick up my pace, but my ankle had other plans.  Every time I tried to speed it up, the ankle protested and I had to pull back.  While my finish was strong, I was very disappointed in my time of 26:##.  (A few weeks ago I ran a 23:59 in AZ)

The Finish Line was uneventful, to put it bluntly.   They only provided water and electrolyte drinks.  No banana’s, no food.  Major oversight and many runners were unhappy.  We are not asking for a full meal, but fruit would of been nice.

The positive is the Finish Line had cheerleaders and live bands. I love their energy! The downside, they kept crowding the course and runners had to weave around them to get to the Finisher chute.

I waited for my brother and was able to see him with a strong 42:## finish.  The best part was seeing him smile when he turned the corner and saw me standing there.  Seeing his finish was the highlight of my morning!  He will get back to his 35 or 36:## in no time!  By the time the 10k finisher cams in, the finish line was almost empty.

We made our way to the Gold Spike for the Awards Ceremony.  While it is a nice idea, it is not runner friendly. I have seen way too many races have their awards ceremony at a different location (other than the finish line) and it doesn’t work.  It didn’t work this time, as a very small percentage of the runners showed up.

At the Gold Spike we were warmly greeted by a gentleman, who we believe was the owner of the race and Martha Watson (4 time Olympian in the Long Jump).  There was a wonderful photo backdrop for the awards celebration.  Certainly, they made great effort to make this special for the runners, no doubt.

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Another big snafu was the awards. They had to wait for the awards from the RD, Tim Kelley.  They arrive 30 minutes late and they were in boxes.  Have you tried to sort through hundreds of AG and Overall medals?  It was a nightmare!!!  Bro and I jumped in to try to help and it was beyond frustrating.  Bro said the same mess happened last year.  My question would be, why aren’t these medals unpacked and sorted hours before the awards ceremony?  This was a very frustrating element for the racers.  75% of the medals were not picked up and thus, proves that runners will not walk to another location for their awards.  I hope they reconsider this idea for future years, my brother said they had the same mess in 2015.  That’s 2 years in a row with the same problem.  Easily fixed.

Brother earned 2nd in his AG and I earned 1st.  After the Awards Ceremony we headed home to watch the game and rest.  I fought off a headache for the rest of the night and went to bed shortly after the game was over. 

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The aspects I liked about this race event:

  • The course.  Fast and easy to run.
  • Course markings.  There was no way a runner could make a wrong turn.
  • Aid stations.  Even for a 5k, there was plenty of aid.
  • The Award presenter at the Gold Spike was wonderful and very inviting to the runners.
  • Results were posted immediately.  That deserves a double thumbs up!

Aspects of the race I did not like:

  • Emcee and Announcer at the Start Line, but nothing at the Finish.  Yes, the marching band was nice, but nothing beats an emcee at the Finish Line.  If you have one at the Start, please have one at the Finish. All major races, follow this pattern.
  • What was the purpose of the long tables, with black table clothes and chairs at the finish?  It was rather confusing to know what they were for.
  • Expo was outside on Friday.  I think you can have one day expo, inside. This is Vegas and the evenings get chilly.
  • The Black and White shirt concept.  In addition, the shirts should not be unisex.  Please offer unisex and women’s fit.
  • No food at the Finish Line. That’s just a no-no for a race, like this.  If someone told you otherwise, you were advised incorrectly.  It is expected by all racers.  Even bananas would of been great.
  • We expected more racers & runners.  You had well over 600 participants in 2015 and less than 500 the second year.  With as much TV coverage you had, I thought there would be more runners. A drop in your second year is not good.  Please examine the details to improve the race experience for the next year.
  • As I said previously, the organization of the Awards Ceremony (or lack thereof) was not pleasant.  It can easily be overcome by sorting the medals hours before the race starts.  Martha (the 4 time Olympian) was there all morning, she said she would of sorted through the medals, while we were racing.  I have sorted through enough medals to know this has to be done way before the race, not unpack that morning.  The medals arrive from the manufacturer in a mess, please do not expect this to be an easy sort.

While this was not a bad race, it was mediocre at best.  It can be a great race, Las Vegas has hosted several local events in the DTLV area to huge crowds.  We may or may not run this race next year, we will be waiting to see if there is another race scheduled on the same weekend.

Thank you to those who volunteered and those who the owners of the race.  It’s evident you want this to be a great race, and we believe it can be.  However, the many organizational missteps and lack of attention to details will be the tipping point for many runners if they return or not.  Wishing you nothing but success in your future events! 

Charlene L. Ragsdale – Las Vegas, NV
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