Sunday, 12 December 2010

Las Vegas, The Strip Running Route

Length: 8.6 km (5.3 miles), terrain flat

Las Vegas Running Routes:
The Strip  
Downtown  
University of Nevada
  
For more running routes, see Routes List.

Having grown up in Florida, I was prepared to hate Las Vegas: a giant tourist-rip-off full of tacky amusements in what was once a beautiful piece of nature. I'd seen too much of that already. But somehow, I can't help loving Las Vegas, too. It's just a place full of fun-loving, normal folks, just out to have a few interesting nights-out. Everyone is pretty relaxed and good-natured about it, the shows are great, and some of the developments, like the Aria Resort, are beautifully done. Even if a lot of other stuff IS pretty tacky, what the heck.
The Strip at night in Las Vegas
SIDE NOTE: The only problem I really have with Las Vegas is that people haven't completely learned the lessons of saving water or energy there yet (well, water savings has begun there, at least). The city of 2 million, sitting in the middle of a desert, depends on the water and electricity from nearby Lake Meade. But droughts and diversionary canals have lowered the water level so much that it will no longer power the Hoover Dam electricity in 10 more years. But, still, running past the hotels in the mornings, you'll see people spraying-down the sidewalks with high-pressure water hoses, and the neon never gets turned off at night. The average Bavarian farmer has more solar collectors set up on his rainy homestead than the entire city of Las Vegas does, out in the sunny desert. So there, I've had my say.

A more immediate problem for runners, and all other pedestrians, is that Las Vegas is definitely NOT very pro-human in its transport system. Every second street corner along the southern Strip totally lacks a pedestrian crossing, and you have to go up high stairways to cross the cars from above. One such pedestrian bridge ended abruptly at the entrance to the Treasure Island casino, and I just kept running through the slot machines to get back out to the street. The same thing happens at the Belaggio Hotel, the hotel of hotels in Las Vegas. There are no real parks or quiet streets to run in the town center: the freeway of I-15 blocks access from the west, and the only park-like spots are fenced-off golf courses.

NOTE: If you have a car and free time (I had neither), you can drive 20 miles (30-km) west, out to Red Rock Canyon and run/hike in glorious nature. I would definitely try this, if possible!

Most of the big casinos and hotels are on the south end of the Strip (Las Vegas Boulevard) nowadays, so that's where we will start this run. And because there is hardly anywhere else interesting to run, we'll just do a simple run up and down the street. I have to say, this is an interesting street. And this is where just about everyone runs in the mornings. We'll just regard the various pedestrian bridges as hill work.

Las Vegas Strip Route
We have to start somewhere, so we'll do it at the corner of Tropicana Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, where a lot of hotels are bunched up: the Tropicana, the MGM Grand, New York New York, Hooters and the Excalibur. We'll just run north, up one side of the Strip and back south down the other side.

NOTE: I assume that if you are there in the abundant hot weather in the summer, you'll have enough sense to run in the early mornings to avoid heat-stroke.
Running the Strip in the morning
We'll try to take advantage of the spots where hotels have added some landscaping away from the street to enjoy a few quieter spots along the way.

Starting at the giant lion in front of the MGM Grand, on the east side of the street, we'll take off. With the Manhattan skyline and Statue of Liberty across the street, as well as a Brooklyn Bridge without Brooklyn, off we go. We'll pass the Hawaiian Market and the Harley café, with the gargantuan City Center project on the left.

After Paris and its Eifel Tower and Arche de Triomphe, you'll see a landscaped courtyard in front of the Bally Hotel, with the fake waterfalls. Do a short loop there.
Paris, Las Vegas
Then you'll have to run up to the first pedestrian bridge, over 10-laned Flamingo Road. Then you'll find yourself running beneath pink billboards at the Flamingo Hotel touting the Donny and Marie Osmond Show. Hey, aren't they about 85 years old now? They must need the work to pay for the monthly plastic surgery.

The majesty of ancient Rome at Caesar's Palace is evident across the street, with its Colosseum and the Forum. A block later, and Venice rises up on the right side, with a simplified version of St. Mark's Plaza, but strangely lacking the canals.

And, in my eyes, even more majestic is Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville, blaring out my kind of music.

We'll just keep running north to Circus Circus Drive, cross the street there, then run back south again. But you could really turn around anywhere you feel like it, of course. If you continued northwards, you'd run through the northern end of the Strip, where the old downtown gives it a feeling of the old Las Vegas of the 1960s, with fewer gigantuan projects (find the downtown route here).
The route as it winds through the Treasure Island casino
Heading back south on the west side, there are more opportunities to get a bit away from the direct street traffic and noise. At the Mirage Hotel, you can run behind the lagoon, where you can see, smell and feel real plants among the fake boulders (don't they have enough real ones in the area?)

And at Caesar's Palace, the Bellagio and New York New York (run over the Brooklyn Bridge) you can run a bit away from the street through their landscaped property.

And once over the Brooklyn Bridge, you're back at Tropicana, and the end of this fun and interesting run.

7 comments:

  1. whats the distance of this route in miles?

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  2. It's 5.3 miles. I always write the milage distance directly after the km (in brackets). Have fun in Las Vegas!

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  3. I was prepared to hate Las Vegas: vegas a giant tourist-rip-off full of tacky amusements in what was once a beautiful piece of nature.

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  4. Thank you so much for doing this. I am going to Vegas soon and I will try your route!

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  5. Thank you very much for this info! I'm heading to Vegas for work for the first time and need to get in about seven miles today. It's great to know what to expect in sights/safety.

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  6. One cool run that I am aware of is the Sprinkler Sprint in Vegas coming up on June 7th. Downtownrunners.com

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  7. Thanks for the route description. It served me well.

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