Steve Gamm certainly earned some good karma about three years ago, when he helped save a fellow runner who suffered sudden cardiac arrest on the track inside the Pettit National Ice Center.
He parlayed the fortune from his good deed into a running jackpot in Las Vegas earlier this year.
Here’s his story:
I had a Saturday off in-between setting up trade shows in Las Vegas the weekend of March 5, and needed to run 14 miles based on my build up plan for a spring marathon.
Typically, I would just go figure out a route. Instead, I Googled “running events Las Vegas” on the chance something more interesting would pop up.
Sure enough, the Red Rock Canyon Marathon and Half Marathon was the next day just outside of Las Vegas; and registration was still open.
Given the difficult terrain, a fast time was certainly not in the cards, so I decided to buy a fanny pack to carry a camera, and enjoy what promised to be a memorable experience.
I took a cab to the packet pickup, where I was able to register in person and found that shuttle bus service the next morning - a motor coach no less - was offered from the Strip, for a reasonable fee.
It was interesting that part of registration included a waiver essentially saying you won’t bother any desert tortoises you may encounter.
Race morning arrived quickly, and I hit the street at 5 a.m., headed to the designated pickup point.
The 30-minute ride went fast; the time spent talking to other runners.
Those on the bus who were familiar with the landscape told me that the Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is very popular among runners, hikers, cyclists, and climbers.
Still, it’s a small race: 176 marathoners this year and 613 half marathoners, all greeted by a spectacular sunrise.
Red Rocks start line at daybreak. Photo by Steve Gamm
The course is a 13.1 mile loop that climbs up the right side of a mountain and down the left side. The half marathoners did that once and the full marathoners turned around and ran back.
The first 9 miles climbs from approximately 2,000 feet to a lookout point at 4,771 feet. The scenery and the climb are equally breathtaking.
I understand there’s only 300 meters of flat running over the course, the rest is either up or down.
I thoroughly enjoyed everything about this “bucket list” type of event, some of the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen, great organization, fun runners, great shirt and finisher medals, and enthusiastic volunteers. And there were virtually no spectators . . . other than the desert tortoises.
What a lucky find.
Running through the canyon country. Photo by Steve Gamm
Gamm, 59, has run 21 marathons over the past 10 years and was a Lakefront Marathon pace group leader in 2010. He also is the race director for the Badgerland Striders Turkey Trot prediction run. Gamm plans to run the Wisconsin Marathon in Kenosha on May 7.