So many of the runners did not come dressed as Elvis but as runners that I was dismayed at first when I arrived on the scene. The 20 minutes before the race were spent waiting around sheepishly on the fringes drinking free promotional coffee, thinking that they were going to sniff me out as an out-of-shape media addict rather than a sports lover. Thank God for the brave, freely-perspiring few who wore the jumpsuit (no one came as slim and devastating '50s-era Elvis, employing instead the look of corny casino-performing, huffing-and-puffing comeback Elvis.) I even saw someone I knew, surprisingly, not recognizing her at first because of the stick-on sideburns. After the race, the celebratory atmosphere was wonderful to bask in -- with peanut butter and banana sandwiches (not fried,though) and lots of beer.
The leader of the Elvii was Joe "Elvis" Tirrito and his backing band, The Mimix. He was tanned and chiseled, a teetering blend of suave and smarmy, and stayed in character even while holding one end of the finish line tape. A nice authenticity touch was having a woman onstage just to hand him water bottles, towels, scarves, and to drape his guitar over his shoulders. I kept waiting for them to play "Heartbreak Hotel" and they never did... but I stayed and danced anyway. It was interesting to see everyone feeling so nostalgic and warm about Elvis, the idea of him. Maybe it's a kind of brand recognition. I watched women young and old go up to the stage to touch the King's rings, get scarves put around their necks, or just smile and sway at him. I'm sure that they weren't just irresistibly drawn to this Tirrito guy sexually -- there's a cultural convention that women are supposed to act this way around an Elvis figure.
Here is Joe "Elvis" Tirrito's website: http://www.joeelvis.com/. Looks like he's going to be in Illinois for a while, he's opening a Bank of America event here in mid-October.