Dashing over the Dam
With a tagline of, “Two States, Two Time Zones - One DAM Great Race,” the 4th Annual Run Laughlin/Bullhead Half Marathon, 10K and 5K presented by Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport takes to the hills, scenic trails, and byways of the area on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Cooperation is the name of the game with a course that focuses on the stunning views of the surrounding Colorado River valley. The Nevada Department of Transportation helps by temporarily closing Highway 163 to allow the runners to coast down the highway taking in the casinos in the foreground against the backdrop of a brilliant sunrise over the Black Mountains in Arizona.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation drops the barriers on Davis Dam so half marathon runners have the rare view of Lake Mohave to the north and the Colorado River to the south.
There is a ‘selfie spot’ where runners can straddle the State Line with the Colorado River in the background and document the occasion.
Runners have the option of testing their various endurance levels with a choice between three events — the half marathon begins at Laughlin High School (7 a.m.), both the 10K (8 a.m.) and the 5K (8:10 a.m.) begin and end at the Tropicana Laughlin.
In addition to Saturday’s race, there is a Race Expo on Friday, Nov. 30 (3 p.m.-9 p.m.) on the Colorado Belle’s “D Deck.” The event is free to attend. During this time race packets can be picked up. Bring ID to receive bibs, timing chips, shirts, goodie bags and other race information. Runners can sign up in person for the event here as well. There will be a couple of vendors there giving away food and other items and some running apparel available for purchase.
To run the half marathon, runners must be able to finish the course in four hours and keep an 18 min./mile pace or better. In the event participants cannot finish the race, or fall behind the 18 min./mile pace, a sweeper vehicle will be following the final law enforcement car and will pick them up for transport to the finish.
The half marathon course begins in the parking lot of the high school, including one lap around the track before heading out onto the highways around Laughlin. Those participating in the half marathon will be bussed to the starting point at Laughlin High School. Gear check and bathrooms will be available in the starting area at Laughlin High School. Please note that no unauthorized vehicles are allowed on the course during the race. The finish line will be at the Tropicana Laughlin.
The 5K and 10K course also offers great views as it runs along the Colorado River Heritage Trail up to the area across from the face of Davis Dam and then alongside the banks of the river near the Laughlin Bridge.
“The event is very ‘walker friendly,‘” said Gavin McKiernan, owner of Mercury Events, race promoter. “Just because the event is called ‘Run Laughlin’ doesn’t mean it’s for runners only. Don’t be intimidated by the name. There are lots of people who walk — and they walk in groups, pairs, as friends, family members, part of organizations or alone, but everybody has fun, and that’s the point of the whole event.
“This event continues to grow each year as word spreads about the beautiful course and the fun post-race party,” he added. “This event is for everyone from the elite runner pushing for an event record to the casual walker and everyone in between. We have a generous 4-hour time limit for the half marathon before we start re-opening the streets which allows for a walking pace.”
Judging by photos of last year’s participants, some like to come in costume, too. Since the event takes place on Dec. 1, spectators might see elves, tutus, reindeer antlers, sparkly outfits and who knows what else. It’s a visual worth looking forward to.
In addition to the fun-lovers, are serious competitors.
“The event course is USATF certified now for the distance – so If you break your age group record in the 5k or the Half Marathon you will run free in 2019,” he added. “Records are downloadable on this page of our site https://runlaughlin.com/results/.”
There’s also a group of people helping runners, in addition to water and first aid stations.
“Pacers will run an even pace to get participants across the finish line at their goal time,” McKiernan said. “If you want to break the 2-hour barrier in the half marathon, run with the 2-hour pacer so that you don’t have to worry if you are going too slow or too fast. These pacers are experienced runners who can also offer advice and tips along the way.
“They will be easy to pick out with their PACER shirts.”
The staging area for all races is located in front of the Tropicana Laughlin. There will be free parking available in the parking structure behind the hotel. Race-day packet pickup is free for 5k & 10K participants. Half Marathon participants must pick up their bib the day before or pay for VIP packet pick up. Day of packet pick up will be at the Roundhouse Buffet in the Tropicana Laughlin. The expo and packet pick up on Friday will be on D Deck at the Colorado Belle. The Colorado Belle and Tropicana are across the street from each other and are a short walk from all of the hotels on Casino Drive.
Participants in the 5K and 10K should be at the starting line by 7:50 a.m. for the singing of the National Anthem.
Several water/hydration and first aid stations will be provided on-course between the start and finish. Each station will contain both water and other beverages.
There are prizes for the top three finishers in several age categories for both male and female runners. All racers are eligible for raffle prizes.
The registration fee for the half-marathon is $95, the 10K is $55, and the 5K is $40. There are also packages available that include race entry, hotel room and bus transportation.
For those spur of the moment people, anyone can register in person on Friday, Nov. 30 — 5K and 10k participants can register the morning of the event at Victory Plaza at the Tropicana.
For those who can’t make it on event day, but still want to be part of the fun and support the charity, can sign up for the Virtual Run by doing their own run or walk and will be mailed a shirt, bib and medal from the event. The cost is $30 and those packages are generally shipped out within two weeks of the event. For those who sign up after the event, allow a week or two from the date registered for the package to be shipped.
Spectators are welcome and have easy access to a variety of areas, however, spectators will need to select a spot to view the runners (other than the finish line) and will then wait until all runners pass before they will be allowed to move their cars. As the roads will be shut down to vehicle traffic, no one will be allowed to “leapfrog” throughout the course.
After completing the 13.1-mile journey through the picturesque Mojave Desert and receiving a finisher’s medal, participants will be able to enter the Post-Party in Victory Plaza at the Trop. Post-race food and fluids — designed to help the body begin the recovery process immediately — will be a few steps away from the finish line. There’s also music and an awards ceremony.
Those over the age of 21, may enjoy the Beer Garden at the Tropicana. Every finisher is entitled to one free beer and additional beer tickets can be purchased on site.
“Proceeds from the event will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River, and other charities including the VIPs will be supported,” McKiernan said. “If your charity would like to help us on event day please contact me at Gavin@MercuryEvent.com.”
There also will be a contest to determine which group has the most spirit with the winner finding a little extra in their holiday stocking for their enthusiasm.
For more information on the courses, race training tips, suggestions and health issues, or to register individuals and teams, visit RunLaughlin.com.