Most runners have experienced race expos dozens of times. Whether you are that person who is annoyed at the long lines to pick up your bib or that person who stops at every booth looking to score some good deals and sample products, the expo is a unique and ingenious creation. Being with the Running Company, we often reserve a booth at expos and partner with a vendor or two (or seven…) so we can gain experience selling products we sell in our stores. When I hear of a chance to work at an expo, I jump on it. Actually, when it came to Boston, I’m pretty sure I sent an email about it two months before anyone actually asked who wanted to work…needless to say, they let me. The Boston Marathon expo was my first big expo, attended or staffed. I called it “runnerd heaven,” and was in a state of euphoria for the first two days. Until, you know, I lost my voice and my calves had swelled an extra half inch (exaggeration). It was such a great experience, and I want to expand on it in its own post later. I more recently worked at the New York City Marathon expo, which ended up being about twice as fun.
Expo-ing is not actually a sport. It is a verb, because I said so. And it most certainly is a skill. Here is why. The standard expo schedule:
7 AM: leave in the truck/van/car for the destination city.
Car ride of x hours later: Arrive at expo venue. Unload truck/van immediately, and begin booth setup. This may involve heavy lifting, pushing, and navigating poorly loaded contraptions on wheels great distances. It also may involve assembling a metal shelf system from probably 1985.
8 or 9 PM: Hotel check-in and dinner, in either order. The food at this meal is always amazing, and you always look sub-par (setup is sweaty).
10 PM: Return to hotel, mentally prepare for the exhausting and fun day ahead.
10:30 PM: Decide that you might as well go out and explore!
1:30 AM: Decide you went to a bar entirely too far away! Return to hotel, pass out.
Days two and three:
5 AM: Wake up. Drag yourself out of the hotel for a run before the madness begins.
8 AM – 7 PM: Work at the expo! At some point, make note of all the booths you may want to buy things from…before they sell out of what you want. At another point entirely too late in the day, get lunch and chug water.
9 PM: Out!
2 AM: Return to hotel, organize, drink water, SLEEP.
5 AM: Run!
8 AM – 7 PM: Expo! You are a little more tired than you were the day before.
7 PM: Dinner!
2 AM: Sleep…
7 AM: Wake up. Rest day…
8 AM – 7 PM: Expo and BOOTH BREAKDOWN: see day one for level of strenuousness required.
9 PM: Dinner! Out!
Run, and watch the race!* You almost feel like you’re running it yourself, you’re so tired.
*that is, if the race actually happens.
And that, friends, demonstrates (hopefully, this was quite long) the skill required to work an expo. Gosh, it doesn’t do it justice. Perhaps my official expo recap stories will. As a Brooks rep told me in New York, “We train for this.”