The post-run selfie with your favorite costumed character from Mystére or KÁ has become something of an annual institution, just one of the features that sets Run Away with Cirque du Soleil apart from the dozens of other fun-run fundraisers that take place throughout the Vegas Valley.
“We have always stayed true to the fact that this is an incredible opportunity to have this up-close-and-personal moment with these performers,” says Run Away project manager Brooke Wahlquist. “The original idea for the event came from Cirque employees, artists and technicians from the two shows here at the time [Mystére and O] who were runners and wanted to put on a 5K that could benefit the nonprofits we were working with. It’s grown to be loved and supported by all the shows, and when they get to interact with people in a way they don’t get to do on a nightly basis, the photos that come back always warm my heart.”
This year’s event, the 18th-annual family-friendly 5K run and 1-mile walk, will benefit the Springs Preserve and Cirque du Soleil foundations and will include live music and circus play area at the finish line in addition to all those photo opps. Participants are encouraged to dress in their own Cirque-inspired look, which could win them a special behind-the-scenes package to one of six Las Vegas shows: Mystére, O, KÁ, The Beatles Love, Zumanity and Michael Jackson One. The Blue Man Group is now a Cirque-owned production, and its characters will also be on-site, too.
But this year’s Run Away will also be special for another reason: It’s the last one. Cirque is still planning an annual community event at Springs Preserve for 2020, but it will take a new form. “That will be revealed in 2020,” Wahlquist says. “There’s a lot of excitement as we are putting all possibilities on the table. That makes it even more special this time and more important for our employees to make sure everyone has an amazing time. We really want to honor all the work that’s been put into it over the years.”
A special interactive art piece conceptualized by a technician from The Beatles Love will be presented in its early stage at this year’s event, and participants will be able to leave their own personal mark on it. That will continue at the annual One Night for One Drop performance on March 8 at Bellagio. The completed piece will be revealed next year and eventually displayed at the Springs Preserve.
That means Run Away with Cirque du Soleil could be a little bittersweet this year, but it should also be an greater demonstration of the company’s strong connections to the community. “What I personally love about Cirque is no matter if we’re sitting in the office or sitting in a theater, when we do all get together, it always feels like family,” Wahlquist says. “I look forward to knowing whatever the new event is, it will not lose that spirit.”
RUN AWAY WITH CIRQUE DU SOLEIL March 2, 7 a.m., $27-$37. Springs Preserve, register at active.com.