These days, what happens in Vegas ends up on the internet, on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. I’m looking forward to being a part of the inaugural Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas event AND I’m looking forward to telling people ALL about what happened.
This one promises to be a true “Vegas” event complete with a huge production at the start which will include – and this all I can say – celebrity impersonators. I’ll find out more details tomorrow morning and will “tweet” and Facebook as much as I can. What I’m most excited about, to be honest, is what this event represents. Not only is it the final Rock ‘n’ Roll event of 2009, it’s also a testament to the strength, reach, and popularity of the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon concept.
I was there at the beginning. In May of 1998 – which is about 100 years ago in internet years – Elite Racing produced the first Rock ‘n’ Roll event in San Diego. The “Suzuki Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon” was the first running event in history where there was no incentive to finish as fast as you could. There were bands and every mile. There were cheer stations. It was truly an event as much as a race. And with the firing of that start gun on that day the world of running changed forever.
Tim Murphy, then president of Elite Racing, was the mad scientist that concocted this brew of racing, running, partying, and celebrating. It was, at the time, an absurd idea. Although is seems obvious to us now, very few in the “real” running industry were enthusiastic about a 26.2 mile street party. The criticism was exactly what you’d expect, that it would ruin the sport of running, that it would encourage non-runners to participate, and that eventually marathon running would become popular. The only thing the experts didn’t say was that it would create global warming.
The success of the San Diego event led to the creation of the Country Music Marathon [and now half marathon], the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona event in Phoenix. In just a few years the Rock ‘n’ Roll marathon series had gone from an amusing anomaly to an industry standard setting concept. No one is laughing anymore. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon series is now the dominant force in running.
What makes it work? It’s all about fun. In the old days the “races” used to be the final exam at the end of your training. These days, the “events” are the party to celebrate to end of your training. And that has made all the difference. Rather than feeling all stressed out on race weekend, rather than having your stomach in knots about what your time is going to be, you can now turn up on race weekend relieved that you only need to run or walk the last 13.1 or 26.2 miles of your season. It’s FANTASTIC.
So I’ll be there. I’ll be there as a member of the staff. But more importantly I’ll be there as one of the thousands of cheerleaders doing all I can to help folks have the time of their lives.