The course for the 2009 Rock and Roll Las Vegas Marathon was announced yesterday. I’m pretty blown away by this course. The entire half marathon route is on the strip! That means that the strip will be closed to traffic for about 5 hours. I’m really surprised, but excited, that the race coordinators were able to get the necessary permits to do this. I applaud Clark County (the strip isn’t actually in Las Vegas) for allowing such a prominate course.
The full marathon is on the strip for the first 10 miles. After that it cuts to the west. I plotted the course on RunningAHEAD so that I could get an idea about the elevation. Click on the funny arraow on the map toolbar for an elevation profile. The elevation will appear below the map. The worst climb is 500 feet over about 12 miles. That is nothing.
The course is really good. I love that the Vegas strip is a huge part of this race but somewhat unfortunately it occurs at the beginning of the race. The excitement on the strip is going to make it hard to control pace. Controlling pace on the first half of the course is integral to running a good race. I’m sure it’s easier to get approval to close the strip in the wee hours of the morning (when most visitors are heading home in for some sleep) than for late morning and early afternoon. Besides, if they did that the half marathoners (who make up a huge portion of the profit for this race) wouldn’t get much/any strip exposure.
The only other thing I see that I don’t particularly like is the 2 mile switchback starting at 17.5 miles. It’s late in the race and switchbacks can be demoralizing. 2 miles is pretty long for a switchback.
The finish looks fantastic. There should be good crowd support from mile 24 through to the end. The course loops around like a cursive f (or that’s what Mary says at least). The last mile goes right by Luxor and Mandalay Bay so we’ll have some good sights. At that point in the race I probably won’t notice anything except my fatigue/misery, the crowds that make finishing feel possible, and the clock.
I’m really excited about this course. It’s far better than I expected it would be.