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Las Vegas ramps up security for Rock 'n' Roll Marathon, concert

By
Allen Cone
Last year's Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon starting line was located near the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. This weekend's race will start in front of New York-New York casino. Photo courtesy of Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas
Last year's Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon starting line was located near the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. This weekend's race will start in front of New York-New York casino. Photo courtesy of Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas

Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Organizers of this weekend's Rock 'n' Roll Las Vegas Marathon -- the first major event on the Las Vegas Strip since last month's shootings -- said they will to step up security and change the schedule.

During the ninth annual event, bands play on stages at regular intervals along the 26-mile route.

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The starting line for the run was moved away from the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino -- where 58 people died and more than 500 were hurt Oct. 1 -- one mile north to outside the New York-New York Hotel & Casino. The finish line is in front of The Mirage.

The Goo Goo Dolls, who were scheduled to play on the same grounds as the Route 91 Harvest music festival last month, will play Saturday night at the Las Vegas Festival Grounds, about 5 miles north on the strip near Circus Circus Hotel & Resort.

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This year, the first 2 and-a-half miles of the race will serve as an extended moment of silence for the Las Vegas victims. Along the route, stages will be equipped to alert the crowd in case of an emergency.

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"In such close proximity to a tragic event, we didn't want to be hosting a kickoff celebration," said Josh Furlow, president of the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon Series. "But the drumbeat going through town is 'Vegas Strong,' so the first checkmark was: 'Yes, we're going to be doing the event and hosting athletes from all over the world.'"

Also, the new route isn't as diffuse.

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"We've kept everything, for lack of a better word, within the same envelope just so we didn't have to disrupt any more than we did from the road closures and the openings and shutdowns," Furlow said.

Organizers expect the marathon, which includes a 5K, 10K, half- and full marathon, to draw more than 50,000 runners and spectators.

Las Vegas Police Capt. Andy Walsh, who is leading marathon preparations, said 350 police officers and 180 police vehicles will be assigned to the event -- as well as trucks and barricades to "harden the intersections and make it impossible for a vehicle to pass through."

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Along the route, there will be surveillance cameras, police sniper nests -- and a police helicopter will hover overhead at all times.

"This year we're on that list of cities that have proven to be vulnerable to somebody who's determined to do something," Walsh said. "We use that in planning and strategy for this event, and it will be part of all future events"

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