A Marathon Expo - A Great Place for a Running Junkie - Boston This Weekend
Where else would a runner want to be on Race Weekend
Posted Friday, 16 April, 2004
"I want you to run this marathon," said the young man in a lilting tone as he handed me the brochure, a colorful glossy that depicted the myriad merits of the Raggae Marathon. At that
moment, I was passing through an extremely congested aisle at last year's Boston Marathon expo at the Hynes Convention Center. To my left was the Raggae Marathon booth populated with several individuals attired as if they would be quite at home in Jamaica, site of the aforementioned marathon. It was at that point I got the personal invitation to come to Jamaica in December to run the marathon and spend some tourism dollars.
I have to admit .... I am a junkie, i.e. a Running Expo junkie. Perhaps all runners are to an extent I have been to numerous expos over the years including the Marine Corp Marathon and Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in Washington and the Philly Distance Run in Philadelphia and I just can't get enough of them. Boston's expo is no doubt in the top echelon in the running world. This years' Boston Marathon expo is being held at the World Trade Center on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (April 16-18). It certainly deserves a look for runners because expos cater to both runner's material and spiritual needs all in a central location.
Material needs are met by the plethora of shoe and apparel vendors that dominate these events. At Boston, all the major shoe companies such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, et al are represented with large exhibits where they sell product and burnish their image. New Balance in partnership with North Attleboro's DB Sports have a large exhibit.
Another material factor is the freebies. The free samples of different food products and sports drinks are always the draw. You don't need to buy lunch if you can subsist on rice, macaroni and cheese and energy bars, all washed down with a new exotic flavor of Gatorade. Then there are the free knick-knacks such as key chains, posters, refrigerator magnets and luggage tags to collect. Not as many as 2002; bad economy you know.
However, it's the spiritual side that makes these expos worthwhile. Many marathons have booths to showcase their races and there is nothing more uplifting than to have a bunch of race directors all vying for your undivided attention. In other words, Raggae isn't the only one that wants me. So does Bob Ingalls, the race director of the Boilermaker 15K. Ingalls, a personable guy, explained to me about the festive weekend to expect in Utica, NY if I came to run Boilermaker in mid July. With Utica being the site of the Distance Running Hall of Fame induction that same weekend as the race, I was guaranteed a great time. The allure of touring the Saranac Brewery was also dangled before me. Who could turn that down!
But wait, Hartford wants me also! Beth Schluger would like me to be in Hartford in October for that city's marathon. Schluger's also the race director for a new half marathon called the Iron Horse. I'm welcome to attend that one too.
Then there's Lake Tahoe. Who could pass up the fall foliage on the course that tours the circumference of that majestic lake? New York, Chicago, Athens are all represented and they all want me in attendance at their events. Can't you feel the love?.
By the end of the my tour through the expo I have a fistful of marathon application glossies and an intrinsic sense of being wanted. This is when the true meaning of the expo comes to the fore. Although the legs may be failing and I haven't run a marathon in five years, I'm still a viable runner in the eyes of these race directors, a valued potential customer. If they have faith in me perhaps there may still be hope.
If you get the opportunity this weekend, take the advice of an expo junkie and head to the World Trade Center for a new type of runner's high. But one piece of advice. Don't bite at the first race director who offers blandishments to come to his race. Guaranteed that you'll find someone else out there who loves you more.