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October 30, 2014

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Las Vegas marathon brings wind, weddings, more than 30,000 runners

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Steve Marcus

The first group of runners heads out during the Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012.

Zappos.Com Rock 'n' Roll L.V. Marathon

Runners are head out from the start line during the Zappos.com Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012. Launch slideshow »

Wearing a brown loin cloth and an Aztec-inspired headdress with multicolored feathers, Antonio Medina stretched and flexed before the start of Sunday’s Zappos.com Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.

His last marathon, he didn’t train at all, hubris he paid for in the following days.

“I don’t know what getting hit by a car is like, but it’s probably comparable,” Molina said.

The 28-year-old was drawn from his home in Brooklyn, N.Y., because of the flat course, the weather and the famous Las Vegas lights.

The race had all the theatricality of a show on the Strip: more than 30 weddings performed mid run, runners with superhero costumes, dozens of bands playing along the course and a giant praying mantis that shot fire from its mouth.

About 32,000 runners took off from the start line, with more than 25,000 competing in the half-marathon. The first wave for the 26.2-mile run took off at 3:30 p.m. The half-marathon began an hour later.

While many were there to enjoy the run under the nighttime lights and support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, others were there to compete among elite athletes like John Ndambuki of Kenya, who finished first with a time of 2:32:24.

Among the runners from each of the 50 states and 52 countries around the world were Amanda Gramly and Andrew Duncan of Las Vegas, who finished sixth and seventh in the men’s and women’s half-marathon, respectively.

The race was run at night for the second time, starting outside Mandalay Bay and finishing in front of the Mirage. County Commissioner Tom Collins was on hand to shoot the starting pistol.

“We’re trying to give the experience of the whole community and try and get these folks connected,” he said.

Each year, the event infuses millions of dollars into the Las Vegas economy and draws people might not otherwise normally visit the city.

As the runners passed the finish line, the wind had picked up and the temperature had dropped from its high of 71 down into the 40s.

Wrapped in a foil blanket passed out by race organizers, Sean Stevens, 38, shivered as he laughed.

“There was about 13 miles of inspiration and .2 mile of desperation,” he said after finishing the half marathon, just over 13 miles.

The Tulsa, Okla., resident said he was in town to visit family but would do the run again because it was fun and well organized.

Jeff Hehn, of Saskatoon, Canada, finished about 6 p.m. and was trying to make his way to the airport for a flight at 8:45 p.m. Having run the half-marathon here in 2009, Hehn had an idea of what to expect, but the wind was a bigger factor than he thought it would be.

“It was really fun running in the wind in the first half. It was like running downhill,” he said.

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