Tuesday 17 April 2012

Las Vegas - USA

The Strip from a southern footbridge
Now I know what you're thinking, you are in Las Vegas, what were you doing going for a run!?

I was staying in the Excalibur Hotel, located at the very southern end of the Strip opposite New York New York and MGM Grand. I figured the best and cheapest way to work out where everything was was to run from one end to the other.

What I didn't realise that is because the Strip is just one long road, the traffic is absolutely crazy. The photo above may look calm, but this was taken at around 6.30am.

The main issue with the traffic is that there are very few pedestrian crossings, the majority of roads have footbridges. The problem this posed was that every kilometre or so you have to run up and down a large set of steps to get across the road.

The fountains of the Bellagio are a sight you must witness when in Vegas, normally accompanied by Frank Sinatra or Country Music!

I set out from the hotel on Day One at around 6am, simply because the jetlag and my flight times meant I was wide awake very early.

On my way north I ran along the left side of the strip, which features the Bellagio fountains, Caesar's Palace and Treasure Island. My goal was to reach the well known Stratosphere Tower which offers far reaching views across the Strip from over 100ft in the air.
The distance to the Tower from Excalibur is approximately 4.1 miles (once again according to my dodge Nike+ chip!), and it was a beautiful run.

The MGM Grand, home to many a boxing fight over the years
At night, Vegas is a war zone, littered with every tacky and gimmicky thing you can imagine. The electricity bill in the place must be out of this world. However, between 6am - 8am, it is surprisingly tranquil. Everything is subdued and you can appreciate the calm before the storm.

Being in the desert, obviously it gets very hot during the day (around 30-35C in March during my stay), but it drops rapidly in the early hours. I was wearing a long sleeve undershirt, a t-shirt and a long sleeve Nike running top, in addition to a woolly hat and was definitely not warm!

The contrast between the outrageous architecture, which includes replicas of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Eiffel Tower, Pirate Ships, Venice and Ancient Rome, and the pure mountains and desert which surround the Strip make for a truly unique sight.

From a helicopter you can see the Strip and how it subtlely blends into its surroundings! The Stratosphere Tower (left) is where the route reaches halfway
Upon reaching the Tower, which looks straight out of the 1960's, I crossed over and headed back on the opposite side of the Strip.

The right or East side was not as easy to run along, there were more roads to cross and less had footbridges, meaning a few waits for crossings and a few instances of blatent jay-walking!

In total my run was 8.4 miles with the crossings and bridges adding on a few extra yards. The pavements are immaculately clean and very well maintained, so it was an excellent surface to run on.

Not one of the most exciting runs based on undulations and changes of direction, but certainly one of my most memorable for pure sightseeing. A great way to take in the Strip and start a day in an utterly unique place!
Start - Excalibur Casino Hotel, Southern end of the Strip
Journey - North towards Stratosphere Tower, approx 4.1 miles one way. Sights along the way include all of the recognisable landmarks and casinos Las Vegas has to offer, with a bit of desert thrown in.
Finish - MGM Grand Casino

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