This is my twelfth trip to Las Vegas, my third with my father and my second time running the Rock ’n’ Roll Las Vegas marathon. The city has always been more than a vacation, but an accomplishment: in Vegas, it seems, a tourist is encouraged to live like a king, to toast their success, to raise a glass to making it here, a monument to toasting the good life.
The city has been battered, yet another example of the historic, horrific American plague of gun violence decimating our neighbours to the south. Lives lost in October will be commemorated on the course of Sunday’s race. They’re on my mind, as are the heroes who first responded and everyone whose loves and lives were lost to that brutal act. When will it end? No one knows, but life, for the rest of us, has to go on.
We have to keep showing up on the starting line.
Las Vegas is a dream, an idea, a man-made construct of soaring ambition, excess and fun. So, my twelfth trip to town is a reclamation project of a city that, over the past two decades, has hosted me as a nervous college kid with a fake ID; a bumbling husband with a pregnant wife; a loving son celebrating his father’s 70th birthday and a runner, breaking 1:30 in a half marathon back when I was still new to the sport and didn’t know enough to take off my earphones and listen, on the Las Vegas Strip, to the cheers of the crowd.
I am here once again with my father, sitting beside me serenely with a smile, and tonight we’ll see Cirque Du Soleil about Michael Jackson and eat too much at Aureole, located, quite intentionally, at Mandalay Bay. I’m back at the Cosmopolitan, where Julie and I stayed while she was pregnant with Esme, who is now six years old and waiting to wear my shiny new medal when I bring it back home. Stay tuned for reports from Sin City, a city now overtaken by runners—9,000 from Manitoba, here to see the Jets play the Knights—all of us, for our own personal reasons, proclaiming #VegasStrong.