Las Vegas Sun

December 18, 2018

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Runners wed, memorialize loved ones during Las Vegas marathon festivities

2018 Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Joe Buglewicz/Las Vegas News Bureau

Brett and Julie Schneider of Montana cross the finish line during the Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas Marathon. Over 50,000 runners packed the streets for the event.

2018 Toyota Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon

Runners make their way up Las Vegas Boulevard during the Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon. Over 50,000 runners packed the streets for the event. Launch slideshow »

Los Angeles-area police officer Anna Perkins was dressed in full uniform Sunday afternoon, carrying a 3-by-5-foot American flag hanging from a 6-foot pole. But instead of patrolling the streets of Bellflower, Perkins was running alongside four other area officers over 13 miles on Las Vegas Boulevard.

“It’s a unique event in a one-of-a-kind setting,” Perkins said minutes before running the half-marathon portion of the annual Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon event. “Once we started running this, we wanted to do it every year.”

The California officers were among 40,000 runners over the weekend who took to the Strip and parts of downtown Las Vegas for the annual event’s 1 mile, 5 kilometer, 10 kilometer, and half and full marathon races. Runners from 85 countries were represented in the race, as well as participants from all 50 United States.

Perkins, running for the third straight year, wore a special patch on her tan-color uniform. Pinned on her back, a laminated sign commemorated the 12 victims of a shooting at a bar last week in the Los Angeles suburb of Thousand Oaks.

She wasn’t the only person running with a cause.

More than 100 couples participated in the event’s “run-thru weddings,” a roped-off area on the north end of the Strip where runners of the half and full marathons who applied in advance had their vows read and were issued post-race certificates commemorating new marriages.

An additional few hundred runners wore customized marathon bibs commemorating deceased loved ones.

Tom Alig grew up playing sports before becoming a businessman, husband and father. Injuries in his 40s hampered his ability to exercise at the level he was accustomed to, and he began drinking to reach the highs that exercise once gave him. After becoming an alcoholic, losing his family and ending up homeless, Alig, now 54, this year became a part of the Las Vegas Rescue Mission’s half-marathon training program.

On Sunday, he crossed the finish line after what he described a “joyous” two-hour, 30-minute run.

“I’m emotional just being back out here,” he said. “It has helped me change my life.”