The Big Mac Blog

Running the Las Vegas Strip

A view running from the south end of the Las Vegas Strip north towards the Freemont Street Experience.
A view running from the south end of the Las Vegas Strip north towards the Freemont Street Experience. Star-Telegram

One last thing from a recent trip to Vegas …

Not sure why this was a good idea, but when visiting Sin City running should be at the bottom of the list. Or running should not be on the list at all.

There are few avenues in America that create such an instant image; Chicago’s Michigan Avenue; New York’s Broadway; Austin’s Sixth Street; Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles. Like those streets, the Vegas Strip does not make for an ideal running spot.

There are better and more scenic routes, but running the Strip is just something you can merely say you did.

The pull to run The Strip in Las Vegas is merely the rarity of it all. Tis seemingly everywhere now in America, but there is no place like The Strip.

Running it also is one of those things that seemed like a good idea at the time. If this is a bucket list, take the following advice: Run early in the morning, or don’t do it at all.

Begin your run no later than 8 a.m., and be prepared for the stench of urine and weed. On the flip side, there are plenty of potential spots to use the bathroom, and play blackjack, too. The run covers the gamut, from the rich to the poor, to wedding chapels, to the Dolce & Gabbana, to the 3 t-shirts-for-$10 dollar stores.

At 8 a.m., most tourists are still sleeping off their hangovers, and are not among the living. That allows for a Strip that will be about as desolate as it can be expected. Those about this early are either: a.) Stupid, b.) Runners c.) Walk of Shamers d.) Homeless e.) Zombies. f.) Degenerate gamblers.

Think of it as an obstacle course.

For some stupid reason, I thought this was a good idea. From end to end – the south end of the strip up north to Fremont Street Experience in downtown Vegas – the run is a little more than 5 miles.

My hotel was at the south end – New York New York. The sidewalks and pedestrian pathways are wide, and early in the morning there is no problem navigating the relatively low number of people walking around that morning. The run is desert flat, and only a few times do you need to stop at lights; city planners have the strip loaded with enough pedestrian cross walks that the only real trouble for conventional runners are not the lights but going up and down stairs.

Be sure to be on the west side of the street to pass the Bellagio and its famous fountains. The same for Treasure Island. The Strip in the morning can be an interesting time to people watch, and see this vibrant area somewhat quieter.

Once you run by the high end hotels, and pass Treasure Island and The Wynn, Las Vegas Blvd. morphs into a series of famous-wedding places, liquor stores, the run grows boring – and slightly sad and depressing. These are the parts Vegas the Chamber of Commerce would you rather not see. The gaps between the hotels such as Circus Circus and the Stratosphere make for a regular run in a blah area.

The run ends on Fremont Street Experience – the cheaper, old-school Vegas that continues to try to make a comeback with a mall area that runs north to south. This is an area, with its less expensive real estate, that is rebounding but for a runner there isn’t that much to see here. It’s the picture of cheap crap America.

In all the run is about 5.5 miles, give or take. You can run back the way you came, or do as I did – call a cab. And then tell everyone you ran The Strip.

Mac Engel, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @macengelprof