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RE: Earlier races
In reference to the 2008 Las Vegas race, I was at that race running the full marathon. I only decided to enter the race a couple weeks prior as I found out I would be in Vegas for a work function over that period of time. As a late registrant I was unable to be in the "elite" starting corral which was reserved for anyone who had proven to run under 3:30 for a marathon. I was pretty upset about this as I had just ran under 2:45 a few months prior. Long story short, I started that race about 5-10 seconds off from guntime behind the "elite" corral.
My first mile was my slowest mile of the entire race that day. By starting a mere 5-10 seconds behind the gun, I spent much of the first mile zigging and zagging my way through slower runners. My average pace for the run was under 6:30/mile, yet my first mile was a 6:52. It was just impossible to go any faster without plowing over top of people.
I'd say that from first hand experience, if someone were to run a 1:21 half on that day, starting over 4 minutes behind the gun, they would have to be in 1:15/1:16 shape. They only close down one side of Las Vegas Blvd. which leaves VERY little room to run amongst the crowd in the first few miles. If my memory serves me correctly, there were around 15,000 people between the full and the half on that day.
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