The options were aplenty between Las Vegas and Southern California—and several runners took advantage.
In 2013, nearly 80 ambitious traveling runners took advantage of the #SA2LV challenge, running the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio marathon or half on the morning of Nov. 17, 2013, hopping on a plane and racing again at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon or half that evening. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series birthed the challenge when the Texas event moved from December to November last year—creating both a running and logistical endurance challenge, with most runners grabbing one of only two flights to Sin City after running in San Antonio.
Last weekend, the antes were upped: Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas fell on the same day (Nov. 16) as the much-anticipated inaugural Avengers Half Marathon at Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif. Brian Kelley, along with more than 20 others from the 2013 crew, doubled their fun with the #Disney2LV task. (There was a slew of other Strip at Night runners spotted along the course donning Disney attire that same night.)
“Most of us all did SA2LV last year and wanted to keep in touch,” says Kelley, who communicates with most of the group through a private Facebook group. “We sort of fuel each other’s ‘crazy’ to take on multiple-race challenges. It’s almost as if the logistics are the challenge—we’ve got the running part taken care of and the friends to do it with.”
According to Kelley, the intricacies of this year’s city hopping were much simpler than last year’s jump between time zones. “With a 5:30 a.m. start time in Anaheim, it gave most of the runners enough time between the two races,” he explains. “If you were able to finish the morning race in under 3 hours, it gave you 8 hours until Vegas started at 4:30 p.m.”
Kelley, also known as The Pavement Runner, explains that selecting the right airport, based on geography and flight schedules, is key to making the in-between-cities transition as smooth as possible. “Some are busier and larger than others, and it might be in your best interest to fly out of a smaller airport.”
The Revel Canyon City Marathon and Half also took place in Los Angeles last Saturday morning. Combined with the added “remix” events in Las Vegas this year—a 5K on Saturday night and 10K on Sunday night one hour prior to the half marathon—this allowed for the extended contest of running three or more races in the same weekend. (If the order of events is swirling around in your head, it goes: Revel Canyon City on Saturday morning, SLS Las Vegas 5K on Saturday night, Avengers on Sunday morning, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Half of the Half 10K and the grand finale Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon & ½ Marathon Sunday evening.) A handful of around 10 runners elected to pile on added races, including Wes Storey, another #SA2LV veteran.
“Our friend jokingly mentioned that there was a marathon in north LA on Saturday morning, so we could fit that in as well,” says Storey, who ran four of the five races with fiance Martin Esqueda. “I immediately started looking at flights, and discovered we could do all four events. When she realized I was serious about running all four races, the term #WorstFriendsEver was coined and became a joke in the group.”
Storey and Esqueda completed at total of 55.5 miles over the weekend, culminating in a finish-line proposal following the Vegas half marathon. “As soon as we crossed the finish line, I dropped to one knee, which was quite difficult after 55 miles,” explains Storey, who credits his future husband’s coaching with his ability to complete even just a 5K. “Martin was immediately embarrassed and tried to pull me up, thinking this was a joke. We were in Vegas after all!”
Both runners admit that fueling and sleep were scarce throughout the weekend—one unexpected blooper they were not prepared for. In between races and boarding times, both athletes chowed on whatever was available, from bagels, to fruit, to soft pretzels. Storey says they carbo-loaded prior to Revel Canyon, but it was difficult to find time to eat after that. Their second unexpected obstacle was kicking off their crazy weekend with a full marathon.
“I completely underestimated the impact of running the Revel Canyon City Marathon Saturday morning. It was a 5,134-foot elevation decrease, with most of that occurring in the first 13.1 miles,” explains Storey. “My legs were pretty much shot after that race, which is not good when you have three more races to run that same weekend.”
The soon-to-be-newlyweds mimicked Kelley’s approach to juggling multiple destinations in two days, using LAX, Ontario International and John Wayne airports between Southern California and Sin City.
Of course, there were some smaller logistical issues that popped up, too.
“I had some additional stress related to not being able to get a cab to the start line,” said Andrea Barber, an actress who did Avengers and RnR Las Vegas on Sunday. “I ended up running from my hotel to the start, about 3.5 miles. Not exactly the ‘warm-up’ I was planning.”
Kelley says that the group, which includes several other bloggers, will most likely make Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas weekend an annual multiple-race tradition.
“[Las Vegas] is set up in a way that makes it ideal for racing twice in one day,” he explains. “It starts late and is (in the Pacific time zone), which makes it perfect for morning races in the Midwest or East Coast and even easier for West Coast races since Vegas is a short flight.”