It’s just after 1 a.m. and somewhere in this town, the devil is about to start bartending.
But not for me. I’m pounding a 20-ounce bottle of water, having just finished running an easy 4 miles on the streets of Las Vegas.
Let it be said, the definition of a running geek can certainly include leaving your hotel/casino after midnight dressed in skimpy nylon running shorts, a moisture-wicking synthetic shirt and a pair of flashy red lightweight sneaks with a 4mm heel-toe drop to run the streets of Sin City.
I had a busy day and didn’t find time to squeeze in a run before heading to the airport for my late flight to Vegas for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon weekend of running and racing in this wacky desert oasis. Still, upon arriving at my room at the Palazzo, I was a bit conflicted. Should I track down my colleagues who were likely loitering over cocktails at the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon VIP party? Or should I gear up and go for an easy run to loosen my legs? I was hungry and was ready for a beer, but I opted for a run. If you’ve been running most of your life, I don’t have to explain.
But let me tell you, the juxtaposition of walking through a casino in running clothes amid attractive people dressed to the nines drinking, gambling and flashing their libidos borders on surreal. Suddenly, I felt like a freak on a leash wearing nothing but a Speedo while being dragged on stage as a sideshow act in a rowdy cabaret.
Incredulous glares, skeptical smirks and snide comments came from anyone who saw me.
“Look at this guy, he’s going for a run,” an attractive woman in a micro mini skirt tell her equally stunning friend in a squeaky, derogative tone.
Fortunately, I wasn’t heading out on this mission alone. Moments before I left the room, my colleague, Mario Fraioli, had texted me to see if I had arrived OK. He had been at the aforementioned VIP party but as soon as I told him I was going for a run, he texted back to say he’d change quickly and meet me on the street.
Moments later, we met at the corner of Las Vegas Boulevard and Sands Avenue and started running down The Strip.
Running through the streets of Vegas at night is a lot like running through any crowded city. Only this is Vegas and every other person is drunk, raucous and unruly, plus apparently eager to shout loud nonsensical things at the top of their lungs. But it’s also the best way to experience the sights and sounds of Vegas. Certainly this town is an audio-visual overload no matter where you go, but doing something healthy in a rather, well, um, less-than-healthy environment gives a unique perspective.
“Yay! Go runners!” some guy yelled out, with sarcasm dripping from his whiney twang.
A woman in skin-tight cheetah-print pants and a metallic gold tank top high-fived me just because. A guy dressed like Elivs—one of three we passed on The Strip—just smiled and nodded his head.
“Hey you dorks, the marathon isn’t until Sunday,” another screamed so everyone within earshot could hear his comedic brilliance.
(Truth be told, Vegas was alive with runners in town for the Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon and we actually heard quite a few supportive shout-outs, too.)
A run is a run, however, and somehow we found a good rhythm dodging the wobbling partygoers and the amped-up attitude. A few times we ducked into the street to avoid the masses, although that meant dodging relentless taxi cabs darting in and out of traffic.
We turned off The Strip and wound through some less-congested backstreets before circling back to our hotels. It was nearing 1 a.m. as I ambled across the casino floor in my sweaty post-run glory en route to the elevator back to my room. My mission had been accomplished, but amid the awkward blend of cigarette smoke and tropical-flavored, oxygen-infused air freshener hanging in the air and the incessant chimes of jackpot machines sounding everywhere, it looked like night was far from over for everyone else.
Viva Las Vegas!