I trained for this competition with a good friend, Tom Martin. I saw a T-shirt during the race that said, “This was a good idea 4 months ago!” And it was, and it also was good in application!
In 2008, I ran the the Las Vegas full marathon. I had seen the Runnin’ Elvi then and thought that they were a classy bunch that motivated both the runners and the spectators!
Elvis! and the Running Elvi!
My desire was to run as Elvis (a costumed character runner) this year. It involved some extra work. I had to get a wig, sunglasses, and a costume to wear. I started with a costume from a Halloween costume store, but it looked exactly like an Elvis costume one would buy from a store. From the Rock n Roll website, I saw a way to order an Elvis athletic jump suit. I followed that lead and ordered the jump suit! That was the clincher! I was actually going to run as Elvis!
I was looking forward to meeting a group of friends from Twitter that I knew were going to run it. The meet up was set for 2:00 PM Saturday at the Expo. I knew that there were Elvi activities that same afternoon, so I went to the Expo in the morning. It was packed all day long.
When I showed up for the meet, I was in my Elvis persona. I was found outside by other Elvi and never made it to the meet up. That was depressing. But seeing all of those Elvi at the half-marathon finish line was fun! A lot of pictures and video was taken.
After the Finish Line activities, we Elvi went inside to the Expo. It was very parade like with several stops in the Mandalay Bay convention center (for photos and showing off)!
We entered the Expo as a crowd, and worked our way through! It was filled with stops for photos and fun. There was a presentation at the end and all of us stood at or near the stage.
I wore the Leis around my neck. At one point, I saw an older lady standing and watching us by herself. I asked her if she was married or single. She told me that she was single. I placed a Lei around her neck. I told her that, at least, she would not have to explain to anyone that she was lei’d by Elvis!
Many of the Elvi hung around for the Pasta Dinner, but I had friend and family obligations and couldn’t attend.
As you can imagine, restaurants and buffets were full all over town. We ate at the Gold Coast. It was very good. All too soon, though, it was time to head back to the hotel and last minute preparations.
Santa just happened to be at the same buffet. I stopped by and told him that I just wanted a completion in the morning. He explained to me that you can wish and you can do. He said that he expected me me to DO my best and I would complete the Half. Nice guy, and he was so correct!
I slept better than usual. I made it to bed by 9:00 PM. I actually didn’t wake up until the alarm went off at a very early 4:00 AM. I had one cup of coffee, one small bowl of oatmeal and a banana. I checked the weather. 36 degrees with a wind chill factor making it feel like 31 degrees. Very cold for Las Vegas (even in December).
I wore compression shorts, tights, tunic, heavy long socks, under the Elvis jump suit. I pinned my bib number under the belt sash, pinned the sash to the jump suit and placed my runner’s wallet inside the sash!
In the lobby, Don, Tom and Julia were ready to go. Julia just stared at me. It took me a moment to realize that she had not seen me ‘in costume’ before. We headed out and were the last ones on the hotel shuttle headed to the Start Line. The shuttle took us to the front door of the Mandalay Bay. On the way, I addressed the crowd (as Elvis) and introduced 12 year old Julia and the fact that this was her first half-marathon. She got a cheer and kudos!
We walked toward the Shark Reef entry. Shark Reef is an aquarium at the Mandalay bay. The elvi were meeting there.
This was Tom’s, Don’s and Julia’s first half-marathon. The event had sold out. That meant that there were going to be 27,000 runners between the 2 events. The Mandalay Bay was packed with runners. There were 225 Elvi, and 95 couples either getting married, or renewing their vows, at the run-through wedding chapel (at the Paris Casino). We talked about all the people, what to expect, what to watch for and all matter of things. All of us were feeling the excitement of the event!
The Elvi were called together for the parade to the Start Line. Imagine 200+ Elvi (Elvis and Elvettes) walking from the Mandalay Bay Expo Center to Russell Road, then around the corner to the Start line. There we engaged in interviews, more videos, and some inspirational talk. We saw Bengal tigers, show girls and the Band starting off the event.
After that, we walked back to Corral 14 that the Elvi and the Wedding Couples shared. It was a fun beginning.
Now for the wait for the start. I could feel the cold. Slowly, runners were ambling out to their corrals. As the people came out, and we squeezed 27,000 people into all of the corrals, it got warmer and warmer.
As the start time got closer, things started to happen. There were fireworks and sky jumpers.
They started off the elite group. We watched as they took off on the Mandalay Bay marquee.
Then came the gun for the rest of us! More fireworks! The corrals moved up individually (at first) and released. By the time Corral 14 made it to the start line we just ran right past. We were headed South to the southern boundary of McCarran airport. Then we turned North for the famous Las Vegas strip.
I started my Garmin 205 watch at the gun. It took me 23 minutes to cross the start line. The first mile was 37 minutes. It was much more consistent after that.
I played the Elvis role to the hilt during the run! If there were spectators on the sidelines that were quiet, I’d put my arms in the air and ask them to cheer the runners on!. When they did, I’d point the Elvis point and say, “Thank you, thank you very much!”
At the 6 mile point, the young lady that made the Elvis jump suit that I was wearing, saw it and told me who she was! I ran over to her and gave her a great, big, sweaty, Elvis hug!
At mile 7, I saw Nancy and Mitch (Don’s wife and son). Mitch got a kick out of my costume (and a handshake from Elvis!) Nancy got a hug!
One pit stop on the way, I had to wait in line for a couple of minutes. I finally got in and when I left, I just couldn’t resist. I had to say, “Elvis has left the building!”
It was an interesting course this year. We were able to run the Las Vegas strip both North and South. It made for an interesting way to track yourself as you ran. Where are we? Oh, yeah! There’s Treasure Island! Oh yeah! There’s Excalibur!
The miles did tick down. Soon I was passing the Excalibur on the way back. I could see the 13 mile mark. I picked up speed as I neared the Finish Line. I told my co-runners that a costumed Elvis was passing them! (There is the unspoken rule – NEVER let a costumed runner beat you to the finish line!).
I pulled off my gloves and stuck them in my belt. I saw the finish line and raised my hands above my head. I put a big grin on my face as I crossed it! Elvis has left the race!
They used the same timing chip this year that was used in last year’s competition. It is a plastic mounted RF chip that can be read along the course. It can be saved as a souvenir or just thrown away. The shoe chips were read at the start line, 5K, 10K, 10 Mile and at the Finish line. My times were:
Charles White #14681
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Tom finished at 2:02:18
Don and Julia crossed the Finish line together holding hands and smiling! They finished in 2:28:19.
Now for the bling!
Once everyone was in, we had our pictures taken with show girls. Don, Julia and I all joined the poor show girl together. That way, Don and Julia got a picture of them with their favorite Elvis…
We got our refreshments (bananas, oranges, sport bars, bagels, Cytomax, water, pretzels, Spicy chips, and gobs more). We wandered about the finish area and watched people and things.
Many people asked for a picture with Elvis!
Then, all too soon, it became time to leave. We made our way over to Russell Road. We were waiting for our ride to show up. Two people walked up and the lady touched my arm. She asked if I was one of the Running Elvi. I said that I was. She asked if she could interview me. Then she said, “On camera.” I was about to get interviewed for television!
The interview was fun and I just answered a few basic questions… Who I am, where I was from, why I decided to run as Elvis, and similar. I, of course, expounded way beyond what was necessary.
It lasted for a few minutes. They saw Julia and asked about her. Her Mother (Nancy) explained that Julia was 12 and this was her first Half-Marathon. Julia was put through a similar series of questions. She did much better than I did at it, I thought.
About that time, our ride arrived and we were off. It took about two hours to get to our hotel, but that is a story best saved for another time.
About 2:00 PM (or so), I got a tweet from one of my friends in Vegas. “Um, did I see you on TV?”
I tweeted back that I had been interviewed.
I later learned that both Julia and I made it to the news show on TV8 KLAS. What could be a better end for an Elvis?
The Special Treat
Most runners plan on something special to eat or drink after a competition that they have trained for. Tom and I did the same. What was our special meal?
Canter’s Deli in Treasure Island casino. I love their Reuben sandwiches. 2 Reuben sandwiches, fries and a soda was $31.50 and very worth it. It is a huge, delicious sandwich. It did take me a while but I was able to finish the whole thing!
AND… Just so you know… I did not bet or wager any where this year. I had enough to do to not even worry about that!