Friday, Dec. 2, 2011 | 12:56 p.m.
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The statistics are stunning: A record number of 44,000 marathon runners will shut down the Strip, a record number of 15,000 expected Opportunity Village supporters will don Christmas suits for the 5K Santa Run, and it’s the first year of the high-heeled Stiletto Dash through the Palazzo, with the Great Santa Run and the Stiletto Dash raising funds for our Opportunity Village.
So be it running shoes, sneakers or stilettos, it’s an amazing weekend in Las Vegas for runners from all around the world. The athletic weekend starts Saturday morning with Grand Marshal and Mirage headliner Terry Fator and Monte Carlo headliners Jabbawockeez at pre-race festivities in Town Square.
I’m the honorary chairman with Mayor Carolyn Goodman, and we’ll start the Seventh Annual Great Santa Run as five Santas parachute from above. More than 500 men and women from our Army National Guard, plus the beauties from “Fantasy” at the Luxor, join my team to take part in the race.
Last year, we topped a little more than 7,000 runners, but extra efforts have been undertaken yearlong to double that so Las Vegas can wrest back the Guinness World Record from Derry, Ireland, who set it in 2007 with 12,965 speedy Santas.
At 5 p.m. tomorrow, more than 100 high-heeled participants, including “Dancing With the Stars” host Brooke Burke-Charvet and former “Fantasy” headliner Angelica Bridges and her Strawberry Blonde bandmates, will race through the Palazzo in the first-ever Stiletto Dash. It’s part of the Las Vegas Rock ’n’ Roll Marathon and benefits Opportunity Village.
Then at 6 p.m. tomorrow, I’ll emcee the pasta party at Mandalay Bay to bulk up the runners in the half-marathon and marathon that shut down the Strip starting at 3 p.m. Sunday. It’s the first time the race will run from daylight into nighttime hours. The staggering and unexpected numbers of entrants had to be cut off, but it places Las Vegas third in U.S. race events behind New York and Chicago.
Expect to see celebrities in and along the 26-mile course. Cheap Trick will be performing right up to the starter’s pistol, and then as the runners begin to pound the pavement. Marathon officials estimate that it will be 90 minutes for all to pass through the starting line activating the timers in their shoes.
Check back often here throughout the weekend for our reports that we’ll wrap up Monday with the race results.
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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