If distraction is the key to making it through 26.2 miles of running, look no further than Las Vegas’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon and Half-Marathon. In 2011, a Blues Brothers cover band played next to shows with tigers, lasers, and showgirls—and that was just at the starting line. More than 30 live bands, from country to reggae, played on the sidelines as some 44,000 runners stormed the traffic-free lanes of the neon-lit Las Vegas Strip. Many dressed in Elvis costumes, naturally, and some even made a pit stop for quickie nuptials at the run-through wedding chapel along the way.
The rock-and-roll model has accumulated an impressive following, and in 2012, the race series is expanding to seven new destinations, from Dublin and Madrid to Portland, Oregon, and Pasadena, California. But the biggest and most extravagant display of running entertainment remains in America’s epicenter of sin.