Thursday, February 25, 2016

Running in Las Vegas: well, what about the LAS (airport) loop?

The first time you visit Las Vegas, and you like running (which isn't for every casino player...), it's exciting to get on the Strip and run along these humongous hotels or resorts. I am a big fan of visiting and discovering cities by foot, and Vegas is no different, you can run quite a few miles on each side.

Well, that what it looks like on the map. In reality, running the Strip is more of an obstacle race. First, there is the crowd, at least from 9 am to way past midnight. And not any crowd: you have people smoking (after all it's sin city...), drinking, begging, yelling, people of all shapes and sizes, large groups, etc. And better not touching someone when slaloming the sidewalks. But even if you beat the crowd by running at dawn in the early morning, there are the numerous road crossings and don't even think of jay walking because the car traffic never stops here. Then there is the convoluted overpasses going from casinos to casinos.

Bottom line, once you've discovered the city, and I've been here more than a dozen times already, you'd better find other routes. This time I stayed in the Southern section of the Strips (MGM, Tropicana, Excalibur, Luxor, Mandalay Bay, New York New York) and when looking at the map, I realized how close all these hotels were from the airport, code name LAS. From a quick look at the Google Map, I estimated the route around the airport to be between 9 and 10 miles and here I was, last Thursday evening, starting my run at 7 pm after a busy day of (work) training.

The route is a rectangle with the Tropicana (Hilton) in the right lower corner, opposite the MGM Grand. But you can start from any point across Mandalay Bay of course. It's right 2 miles between the Tropicana corner and the intersection of the Las Vegas Boulevard (the end of the Strip) and Sunset Road. The pavement on Las Vegas Boulevard if very smooth, all concrete. As you turn onto Sunset Road, there is no pavement on the left side, along the airport. It's quite uneven and lose gravel so, but there is some street light to help with the footing. However, if you aren't used to running on trails, you can cross Sunset and run on the right side. I chose to stay on the left side as I prefer running against the traffic. Depending on the time of the day, the traffic isn't too bad, for instance at night or early morning, and you can take the (your own) risk of running on the pavement.

It's exactly 3 miles on Sunset Road before turning left on South Eastern Avenue, so it makes for quite a simple geometry quiz to compute the perimeter of a 2 by 3-mile rectangle!

There are a few road crossings on the 2-mile long segment on S Eastern, but not too bad. The pavement is not as smooth as on the other side, but okay. In the second mile you pass a shopping mall and few fast foods in case you need water for instance.

Then you are back on Tropicana which has also quite a worn out sidewalk but, more importantly, a few major road crossings with the heavy inbound and outbound airport traffic (so many cabs!).

Overall, a great 10-mile loop if you want to log a few miles while in Vegas and keep some sanity between parties or meetings. I ran the loop on Thursday and Friday night, then twice on Sunday (2:23:06) and improved the course record on Wednesday morning (1:05:59 elapsed time and 1:04:54 of moving time, that is without the waits for green lights at the major crossings on Tropicana). Actually, my Garmin gave 9.95 miles for the loop and Strava rounded down to 9.9.

So, while, like me, you'd certainly rather run on trails in the surrounding mountains, if you don't have the time to drive and leave the city, and you are staying on the South part of the Strip, here is a very reasonable option to log a few consistent miles away from the crowd. Still with views on the mountains, plus the distraction of the planes taking off and landing. At least it worked for me, I managed to run 5 loops (50 miles) during the week despite the craziness of our annual InterConnect conference. Not quite my average weekly mileage, but still much better than running on a treadmill!

Run, baby, run!


Jeremy said...

Agreed. Much better than a treadmill.

Anonymous said...

I'll be at Interconnect tomorrow. This is exactly what I was looking for...thanks for the tip! If you are there again this year look for me on the Strava Flybys. :)

Jean Pommier said...

Thanks for leaving a not, 'anonymous'! Will try to identify you on Strava over the next days (I plan on running a few loops this time again, business meetings allowing).