Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Race Report: RnRLV aka FlopAtNight
Where do I begin? What do I have to say about the insane race of Rock n Roll Las Vegas? What saddens me is that my experience is not unique. As I lay in bed on Monday reading the hundreds, if not thousands of posts on the RnRLV Facebook page – with shared experiences. I became even madder. That an event like this would be allowed to take place in my own city and then called an “economic success”.
Vegas thrive on Conventions and Tourism. This will hit the bottom line of the “success” of Rock n Roll Las Vegas for next year. Those hurt, bruised and neglected on the course will not be silent. While we might not have the ability to keep RnR from getting a permit for next year, but we will try. My city deserves better. The racing community deserves better.
I have ALWAYS been a supporter of RnRLV. It was where my running journey began. Even when others barked about the high prices, I quickly came to RnR’s defense.
Then, I saw trouble brewing, shortly after registration opened.
1. They were giving away free jackets (from Brooks) for subscribing to their email list. I was one of the winners. I was treated so poorly by Competitor Group to receive my jacket, that Brooks had to intervene. It took months to receive the jacket and even then, Brooks had to send it to me as Competitor refused, even though they used MY NAME to promote the contest (as one of the winners)
2. Their decision to remove the Kids Run and add the Stiletto Dash. What a mockery!
3. Their decision to create a MERGE for the Full and Halfers and have NO communication about the separate lane, cones, etc.
4. Their decision to charge $40 to anyone wanting to pick up a packet on race day. Several of my friends were caught in the bad snowstorms of last year. I remember well, that RnR was refusing to give them their packets. That was until our local Channel 8 got involved.
I trained all year for this race. I ran 26 races to prep me for this race. It was my race to be my triumphant return to the course. I had a goal to sub2 in Vegas. I was right on track to do so, since I ran a 1:44 in Snow Canyon a month prior.
Days leading up to RnRLV was typical race prep for me. Nothing new. Then, came the Expo. I saw the disaster again. Okay let’s see – we have 20K more racers this year, but let’s make the aisles narrower and have less space! That sounds like a great idea, don’t you think?
They ran out of shirts. How is that possible?
I went Friday to get my legs tapped up at the KT Tape booth and meet up with friends. Had a half of Marathon Bar – Snickers and quickly threw it out. It was horrible.
I went back Saturday to be with my husband to get his bib and walk through the booths. I sampled VERY little (keep this in mind – this might prove to be helpful to some)
1. The Sweet Tomatoes
2. Muscle Milk. I had the regular (TOO SWEET!) and the low sugar. My kids did not have the low sugar (again, keep this in mind).
That night, hubby and I went to the Rio buffet for dinner and a final carb load.
After dinner, I went to the EyeCandy Tweetup. No drinking, other than a bottle of Fuji water.
The next morning (race day) I woke up queasy feeling. I figured it was nerves. I knew I was nervous, so I just tried to stay calm. All day, the stomach was in knots, but I was not overly concerned.
Arrived at Mandalay Bay and saw a wall of people trying get to the race start area. I am thinking, “This isn’t good”
About 20 minutes before gun, we head to the start line. My husband and I then see the mess that will dictate the rest of the evening. We climbed over bushes, railing and people to get to Corral 5. I could not believe what I was seeing.
The Start was so UNthrilling. Last year, we had a stage above the start line. Smoke bombs went off at each corral – it was a great mood. This year, it was not even close. Oh well, I thought. It will start soon.
We start our corrals and I take off. I felt fine, for about 5 minutes and then I felt my insides start to do cartwheels. I have NEVER had to use a porta potty in any race, ever. I saw it coming this time. Just at that moment, I found my running partner from last year’s Vegas. We clutched hands and I told her I was not doing well and needed to find a porta potty. I didn’t find one, but I immediately ran into the Starbucks by Treasure Island. The bodily explosion that happened in my body was not fun. Okay, TMI, but it gives you an idea or what is happening.
After that pit stop I started running again. Not too much longer, I needed to go again. So, there were another string of porta potties. I had to jump to the left and cross the Marathon lane. By then the front runners were coming in and I had to cross them. I am SO sorry I had to cut you off, but there was NO porta potties on the other side.
That was the second stop of MANY stops after that. By the time I had reached the turn around at the El Cortez, I knew I was not doing any better, but getting worse. I walked over to a volunteer and asked for help and I was told where the next porta potty was and keep walking to keep warm. When I asked them to call for help, they just refused and sent me on my way.
I honestly don’t remember ever seeing a medical tent on this course, but I am told there was.
Then, I came up on the Stratosphere and saw good friend, Jill W. from Team in Challenge. She is one of the Coaches. I waved to her and she jumped out to help me. I told her to stay with her team, I will find myself some help. The look on her face is forever branded in my mind. I know she felt powerless on what to do for me.
By the time I got to Sahara, I stopped at a Police Car and asked for help. I was once again instructed by the volunteer and police officer to use the porta potty and keep walking to stay warm.
I was hoping and praying I could find my husband but I was sure by now he had passed me.
Came up on every porta potty and body explosions continued. I ran into at least 3 casinos to use their bathroom. Running back on the course and seeing porta pottys with BARRIERS in front of them – what was that for?
I was taking water from every aid station, in the hopes I wouldn’t dehydrate (but drinking water provided by a fire hydrant isn’t the best for a stomach issue, now is it?)
Of course, since I was walking – from Mile 2 on, the water stations were already being broken down on after the turn around. I knew I was slow, but I knew I would finish within the time limit of 4 hrs. There is NO excuse for running out of water. None. I find it ironic that RnR has big as they are can’t get a water supply sponsor? Look at other race organizers. Most of them do get water sponsors,why not RnR?
As I came up on Mile 11 – I thought about asking for help again, but after being turned away 2 times – my mind went into “why bother” mode.
The reality is, I thought I was going to die. Not kidding. I was scared beyond comprehension. I was horribly cold. Long sleeved shirt & arm sleeves, leggings, ear warmer and gloves weren’t enough. I knew my body temp was rapidly dropping.
As I came up on the Luxor – my body decided to revolt in another way – vomiting began. Then, and ONLY then did anyone offer to help me. After several minutes of hurdling in a bush, I was offered some water and I decided I only had 1 mile to go. At that time, I can get some medical attention. That was my only motivation to finish. To get warmth and help.
Back in 2005 when Devine Racing controlled the race. I was part of the setup of the medical tents and team. We had it ALL. Pain relievers, IV’s, hot water, cold water, blankets. We had our own Triage at the Finish Line. I assumed it would be the same this year. I was SO WRONG!
I crossed the finish line at 3:20 – that shows you how slow I was. Remember, I just finished a 1:44 Half Marathon, a month prior.
I immediately went to the medical tent. I was given a blanket and told to sit in front of the heater. The Aid told me I was certainly suffering from hypothermia. He gave me a salt packet and then asked someone to bring me HOT water. The other aid brought me cold/lukewarm water. I said, “excuse me, but this isn’t hot, this isn’t going to help me at all with my hypothermia” She said, “this is all we got!” and walked away from me.
I was disregarded; I was left alone – as they attended to someone who had a bad hip/ITB. I am in a life threatening situation and I was left alone and told they could do nothing for me. I was not even asked if I needed an ambulance. Nothing.
My mind went to one thing, find my husband. He had his cell phone in my gear check bag. I had no way of knowing how I would find him. I made my way through the post-race crowds and felt like I was back in the Expo. 20K more racers and less room = that’s another great idea!
I started to make my way to the hotel and two people came up behind me and helped me in. I have no idea who they were, but at least they cared enough to help me.
I then started going towards the Gear Check. I am thinking, eventually my husband will try to find me and hopefully he will come to Gear Check. I had BRIGHT YELLOW blanket. So, I made the decision to put the blanket on the ground and lay on it. I am hoping he will see the bright yellow and then notice me.
I pulled out my cell phone and tried my best to text some friends to help me find my husband. As luck would have it, one of our good family friends was also in gear check and came to my aid. I was so weak I could not sit up and vomiting kept coming. Luckily, they were able to bring me some hot tea. The first time I had anything warm in hours.
Finally, my husband called. He used someone else’s phone to call me. He was by my side in a matter of minutes.
At first, all I wanted was to go home. Then, reality set in and I knew I needed to go to the hospital.
The RnRLV Red Shirt Medic team was worthless. They did nothing. I will give credit to a Medic who at least offered me a Bagel and Banana. But once again, I asked for something warm to drink and I was given cold water. Who are training these volunteers? It was very very obvious I was ill.
Laying on the cold concrete I looked around and couldn’t help by notice the other runners. I have never seen such a negative atmosphere after a race. It was not happy, no sense of accomplishment. All I could hear was complaints and complaints. Seeing people getting sick around me and the Medics doing nothing but “want us to call an ambulance?” Why not offer people some assistance! Or least to offer to walk them to the bathroom.
When the medics finally arrived for me, I was told that they have never seen anything so poorly run and blatant disregard for the racers safety.
It’s 40 degrees in the Desert winter NIGHT and they didn’t have heaters at the finish? But oh yes, they did have them at the VIP booth for special guests at the Start Line. The medics shared their disgust with me and my husband several times at this entire race event.
Then, the ambulance comes and tells me the same thing. When I tell them about my issues with the lack of care in the medical tent post-race, they informed me they are only set up for orthopedic injuries. Again, HOW STUPID is this? It’s the WINTER – did not anyone think that even just ONE runner would be suffering from hypothermia? I am sure they did think of it but I am sure the extra bucks to put Hot Water outlets in the medical tent was too costly, right?
I spent the night in the hospital with lots of IV’s and feeling sick. Monday (as also today) I am still on bed rest. I spent a lot of my day, yesterday – reading all the complaints on the FB page. That is what angers me more. I think I could have handled my disappointment a lot better if I was the only one, I wasn’t. To think that people think this is how the city of Las Vegas treats our guests? I am angry.
I want to see RnR held accountable for this disaster. Oh yes, it was an “economic success” – but at what cost? What is it going to take for the City of Las Vegas to realize this is a death trap waiting to happen.
And they want to increase it to 61K for next year? They are inept, incompetent and incapable of hosting such an event. It is of my opinion, that the sponsors should remove themselves; RnR should not be issued a permit to host another event. This event will hurt us economically, as most racers are NOT coming back for next year and they were travelers.
Do I hold RnR responsible for me being sick? Not at all. But, I do hold them responsible for their lack of organization, lack of crowd control and lack of care to ensure our basic safety during the course and post-race.
Edit: 12/09/11 When I initially wrote this race recap, I had NO idea the magnitude and numbers of those getting sick with vomiting and stomach cramps. I have reviewed the race course map (first time, since race day) - and my stomach cramps started after 4 water stops at Mile 6 - at least an hour into the course. Note: I did not have PAIN nor CRAMPS in the beginning of the race. The PAIN, CRAMPS and VOMITING started after the water stations. Las Vegas Health District has launched in investigation to the cause of all of our illnesses. I am now of the belief that the frightening pain and vomiting at the later part of my race experience was caused by the aid stations. RnR was not responsible for my pre race nerves, but something made me significantly worse throughout the night.
What made me and thousands of others so sick? I have no idea. It could have been a bug. I am wondering if it is something we sampled at the Expo.
My family and I all had the same samples and none of them got sick. Except I drank the low-sugar Muscle Milk. Too many racers were sick, there is something seriously wrong. However, RnR unwillingness to provide the basic of care is their fault.
In addition, my husband told me that he saw a girl throwing up about 10 feet from a Medical Station on the course. He ran over to her and asked if she needed help. She did. Husband walked to the Medical Aids and told them to help her. Guess what their reply was? “can she walk over here so we can help her?” My husband said, “No she can’t! That’s why you need to help her!”
When I worked the medical team during the Devine Racing – we were given very clear instructions on what to do for the racers. We had no limits to the care we could provide. Devine Racing genuinely cared about the racer safety and it showed. They provided us all the resources we need to ensure a racer was safe. I would be curious to see what RnR communicates to their “medical team”. I am going to guess it isn’t much, if anything.
I will never, ever run any RnR event. I will not coat the pockets of those greedy mongers. They have shamed my city; they have embarrassed the sponsors and hurting a charity. I am not alone – a strong boycott is already taking place.
I believe there needs to be more. Sponsorships need to be pulled and again, their permit needs to be denied. Human life and safety should not be endangered for the greed of an “economic success”.
What is RnR’s response to all of this? They issued a lame statement yesterday “apologizing for the inconvenience”. That is not acceptable and goes to further show they cannot be trusted. They may promise to make changes, but they won’t. I suspect they will start CHARGING for aid stations or using the porta pottys. If they can make a buck off of it, they will do it.
For those who wish to make their opinions heard - here are the contact links for those who need to hear your voice:
City of Las Vegas Public Works Permits
Fire Code Violations
Las Vegas Convention & Tourism
I hope all is recovering from the experience and I am so sorry you were treated so poorly in my city. RnR is not a reflection on how we treat our guests. We hope you will come back, but just not for RnRLV. Spend your race monies elsewhere, but not with RnR, anywhere. If this happens in Vegas, it will happen in another city.
If changes are not made, there will be multiple deaths in coming years all in the name of a economic success.
(c) C. Ragsdale 2011
Celebrate Your Finish,
Charlene L. Ragsdale - Las Vegas, NV
Certified Sports Nutritionist, Running Coach & Public Speaker
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