Las Vegas Marathon: Take the Money and Run

Dubbed the fastest-growing destination marathon in the world, the Las Vegas Marathon offers participants an opportunity to run the world-famous Vegas Strip--and even a chance to get married en route to the finish line.

"We want people to come to Vegas and have fun," said Terry Collier, the executive race director.

Over the past two years, more than 50 couples have been married or renewed their wedding vows during the Las Vegas Marathon. Some runners take a quick detour during the race to stop in at the "Run Thru Wedding Chapel" near the 5-mile mark of the marathon. There, runners exchange a quick "I do" or "I still do" in a ceremony officiated by a running reverend and witnessed by more than 50 Elvis runners, friends and family members.

Tying the knot is not required to run the Las Vegas Marathon; however, double-knotting your racing shoelaces is suggested. This unique race, which starts and finishes along the world-famous Las Vegas Strip on December 7, offers runners of all abilities an "only in Vegas" experience of a lifetime.

"This is a very big event for the Las Vegas community," said Collier, who is also the longtime race director of the Los Angeles Marathon, a race he has completed every year since 1986. "Our goal is to make the Las Vegas Marathon the largest destination marathon in the world."

The race's popularity has soared since Devine Racing, a Chicago-based race management company, bought the marathon in 2005. "We had a 50 percent increase (in participation) between our first and second years (of the race) and expect another 25 to 50 percent increase this year," Collier said.

Participants also find plenty to do off-the-race course as well. Runners traveling to big-city marathons usually stay in the respective city for an average of two nights, said Laurence Cohen of TLC MediaWorks. But when traveling to the Las Vegas Marathon, runners stay an average of four nights.

"It's a fun place. People are coming to run the marathon but then staying around for a few days to enjoy Las Vegas," Cohen said.

Registration remains open for the Las Vegas Marathon, which includes a marathon, half marathon and special kids' marathon--the final 1.2 miles of the marathon.

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"Running the marathon is a great way for people to see the city of Las Vegas," Collier said.

The fast, flat course starts and finishes at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino (the official race hotel) and runs along the Vegas Strip.

"This is the only race in the world you can gamble on," said Cohen. "They take the statistical data of the elite fields to establish a time differential for the women to start in advance of the men."

To view course maps of the Las Vegas Marathon and Half Marathon, visit:

Marathon--Vegas Style

How many marathons in the world have its own gaming chip? Or world-renowned Cirque du Soleil performers handing out finish-line medals? Or the ever-popular Blue Man Group performing live on its course?

The Las Vegas Marathon includes all of the above, plus an opportunity to run the electrifying neon Vegas Strip with its flowing waterfalls and erupting volcanoes during one of the rare occasions the Strip is closed to traffic.

The spirit of the King of Rock 'n' Roll remains alive at the Las Vegas Marathon, as many runners dress as Elvis for their sojourn through one of his old favorite stomping grounds.

Some donning Elvis-style wigs and 1970s polyester jumpsuits will run the Las Vegas Marathon, while others in similar attire will call out split times at each mile marker along the course.

"Runners can expect to have a good time," said Collier. "They (the runners) are our customers and our focus is on treating them well."

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For information on all aspects of the Las Vegas Marathon, including registration, race expo and lodging, visit:

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