- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 2, 2005

Marketing is a wonderful thing except when it goes too far.

Exhibit A: The 2005 New Las Vegas Marathon, which just announced the world’s first Run-Thru Wedding Chapel.

According to the race officials, “on Sunday, December 4, 2005, up to 26 couples are invited to get married or renew their vows at this ‘only in Vegas’ venue located at the A Very Special Memory Wedding Chapel near mile five on the 26.2 mile course.”

That’s right, two challenging and exhausting American institutions are coming together: marathons and weddings.

But wait, there’s more to this foolish promotion.

Organizers issued a “call for couples” to join the dozen couples who already have expressed an interest in participating in the ceremony. All couples will be required to run or walk the marathon.

Of course, the group ceremony would not be complete without a running reverend to preside — Rev. William Petersen, who has performed more than 25,000 weddings in Las Vegas.

Race officials vow that he is in training with the Vegas Roadrunners for his first marathon. Petersen plans to run with the couples from the starting line to the Run-Thru Chapel, where following the brief ceremony, “Elvis” will sing “Love Me Tender” and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love With You” as the couples complete the marathon.

Maybe they can get Jackson Browne to sing “Running on Empty” instead.

Officials said the first couple to finish will spend the night in the Honeymoon Suite at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino. Unfortunately, that won’t matter if the bride or groom hit the wall.

Give the organizers credit: They successfully pitched CBS affiliate KLAS to cover the ceremony during its three-hour broadcast of the marathon. I smell reality show.

How about just give several rolls of quarters to every runner and line up slot machines at every mile. The runner with the most quarters in their pockets at the finish wins the jackpot. Can you say “dowry”?

Olympic dream begins — As the Army Ten-Miler floods the streets of Arlington and Washington this morning, several area athletes are 1,115 miles away running in the Twin Cities Marathon.

The Minnesota marathon is a special one for Chris Banks because today is a one-day special window to qualify for the 2008 U.S. Olympic men’s marathon trials. Edmund Burke, 36, and Aaron Church, 30, also will be looking to qualify.

Banks, Burke and Church competed in the 2004 Olympic marathon trials in Birmingham, Ala. Banks, 27, is ranked No.28 on the nation’s roads by Running Times magazine and should have no trouble getting a qualifier for 2008.

Area runners Frank Sprtl and Eric Lavigne also are running — along with three prominent area masters runners George Buckheit, Mark Malander and Chuck Moeser.

The regular qualifying window opens on Jan.1 and ends 30 days before the men’s Olympic trials in 2008. A time of 2:22:00 or better is needed for a “B” qualifying standard, and 2:20:00 or better is an “A” qualifier, which usually means an expenses-paid trip to the trials.

On the women’s side, Susannah Kvasnicka and Mary Kate Bailey are two of the favorites. Kvasnicka, 33, a Great Falls resident, recently won the Annapolis Ten-Miler for the third time. Bailey, 30, from Arlington, won the Marine Corps Marathon last year.

Kvasnicka is ranked No.24 on the nation’s roads by Running Times magazine and will try to improve her 2:54:14 personal best from Chicago in 2002.

Area standouts Jacqueline Concaugh and Genevieve Kiley also are in the race.

The perfect MRE — Now from the U.S. military comes the Hooah! energy bar. The 65-gram, 280-calorie all-natural bar was created by the military for its soldiers and according to the label: “The U.S. Military needed an energy bar for the toughest customer in the world, the American soldier. No bar on the market was up to the challenge.”

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