Experiencing My First Race Expo

When I found out that there was an actual race expo attached to the Columbus Marathon, I become very excited!  To me this proved that this race was a biggie and I had such great expectations heading into the expo.

Admittedly, all previous races that I have raced, the race packets have been nothing worth noting. They came with the bib, course map if you’re lucky, and maybe a coupon to someplace.  Typically it just contained ads though.

My success rate with race shirts is not stellar.  One I didn’t get because they didn’t have my size.  They said they would mail it out to me but once I saw how ugly it was (for real, it was the color of dirty dish water), I kindly passed.

Most of them are men’s sizes (because we know women don’t run races right?) so they don’t fit me anyway.  I give those to Scott.

I finally got one that was a nice blue color but wearing it for anything longer than a short run isn’t a good idea.  But still, a race shirt for me! YaY!

All that to say, since this race had it’s very own expo I assumed a lot of things about the situation.

  • I thought our race packets would have some serious cool swag in it.
  • We would get an awesome T-shirt.
  • The expo would be kickass full of great running products and lots of free samples to try out.

This was my very first running expo EVER!  Seeing so many other bloggers talk about expos had me drooling to finally get a chance to attend one myself.  How could I not get excited when I saw what all these other bloggers have gotten not just in their packets but also got a chance to see at the expo?

When the time finally came to head over to pick up my packet I was practically skipping the entire way!

In complete honesty, I have to say that my excitement bubble got busted pretty much as soon as I walked in the door.

The first section I hit was a huge set up from Second Sole who not only were selling running gear but also gear that had Columbus Marathon Logo on it, which I thought was pretty cool.  I was looking at the women’s gear and it was nice but nothing that really caught my eye.  Then I saw sweatshirts with 13.1 on them and had to have one of those!  They were all men’s though, which I found a bit odd.  Maybe it’s because I was there late on day two of the expo, that most of the selection was picked over?

I set aside the sweatshirt I was going to purchase and walked through the rest of the expo which took us, maybe 10 minutes?

I’m being generous.

I stopped at another running gear booth because they had some really nice things out.  Sadly nothing in my size.  Bummer!  I turned around a say a huge wall of 26.2 gear but no 13.1.


Continued walking and saw a two booths that had funny shirts.  One booth was One More Mile.  There was a shirt I wanted but again couldn’t find it in the style I was looking for.  Then another booth but it either focused on 26.2 or being a mom runner.

I’m neither of those things.

I got to the end and picked up my race packet which had nothing.  I had to look through it like twice just to make sure.  Just some ads for other races like Disney (because Disney doesn’t get nearly enough hype as it is) and a coupon for Cap City (that was nice!).  I headed over to show my bib for t-shirt pickup and was handed a bright pink technical tee.


The fellas?  Oh they got blue.  The marathoners?  Oh they got sleek black.  Us halfers that just happen to be girls?  Pink!  Because all girls just love pink, you know.

We walked back through the expo and found some cold weather gear for Scott.  Then I got my sweatshirt and we met up with Heather quick.

Then we were outties and off to run other errands for the day.

I walked away really disappointed.  Not only was there basically nothing going on, the half marathon seemed like it didn’t even exist.  Everyone and everything was focused on the full.  Hey, I get it, running a marathon is a big deal but running a half isn’t small potatoes.  13.1 miles is a long way too.

I realize how much of a Negative Nancy I sound but maybe my expectations were too high?  I just thought for as big as this race was and the fact that it is also a Boston Qualifying race, that this expo would be rocking.  I expected to be overwhelmed with stuff as opposed to being underwhelmed and a little frustrated.

Some day I’ll get a race packet full of goodies.  I’ll get a race shirt that is awesome. I’ll get to attend an expo that just blows my mind.

A girl can dream right?

10 thoughts on “Experiencing My First Race Expo

  1. I felt the EXACT same way. The Cleveland expo blew, too (but at least they had cute shirts to buy!). I hate to say it, but Pittsburgh’s expo blew both of these out of the water. They even had the NY City marathon winner, Meb, there to sign autographs.
    But I’ll take a great race over a great expo any day. :)
    Now you just have to sign up to run another!

    • Heather, I just felt so let down. A lot of the booths were local running stores which is great but I can go to them anytime, ya know?
      Amanda, yeah I was pretty bummed.
      Heidi, Very true! I’m always red faced after running too, most especially in the summer.
      Kelsey, I’m thinking that’s what I’ll do next time! ;)
      Linzi, and here I would have thought the Nike expo would kick butt!
      Richard, you were at the expo?!
      TG, next time I’m definitely going earlier!
      Diana, thank you! :)

  2. Seriously? I’ve been to expos before (My first 5k was part of a big race series, a 5k, 10k and 2 different halfs) and it was awesome. I’m sorry yours was lame!

  3. Heidi says:

    I totally agree. Since this was my first big race and first expo, I was excited to go. And I was disappointed. I didn’t expect a lot of freebies, but I thought we might get something (a trial size energy bar or two? a gel?) I was able to purchase a few gels for cheap, and a 13.1 sticker for my car. :) The t-shirt is nice, but fuchsia is not a good color on me, especially when I run. I will always be one of those people with a red face at the end of the run — it’s my coloring. That will look just fab with a fuchsia shirt. :( But that’s just me. Rant over now. I will say I have lots of great things to say about the race, and I agree with Heather — a great race is more important than a great expo.

  4. ive had to work at reminding myself to lower my expectations or try to go into every situation with no expectations. its VERY hard to do, and could be some of the reason that u felt let down- and by reading tho, i cant say i blame you! the half marathon i ran was dissapointing..they set it up so horribly and everything was “low budget”..it used to be sponsored by the city but now its independently hosted..and it was a major let down.

    lol when in doubt, they go with pink for women! sadly the women’s half marathon tee’s here were red and the full marathon ones were pink…but red is cool too, a little IN UR FACE tho haha.


  5. :( I’m sorry to hear your expo experience was not up to par. I kind of felt that way at the Nike Marathon expo last weekend too. I guess the issue that you pay so much money for an entrance fee you expect a little more. I hope your next expo experience is much much better! :)

  6. I spent a good long period of time going through the race expo at Long Beach and although it wasn’t massively swagtastic there were still a good number of booths. As a bonus I got to try out or buy stuff I had only heard about in other blogs. Like a spibelt. I bought one and it was great. Now if it would only look flattering. Kinda fug. lol

    On the whole I think I was pleased. The technical t-shirts were great and the booths were varied. But I definitely would only go earlier rather than later. I returned Saturday afternoon with some blends and I got lightheaded. Way too many people acting like they had never seen a running shoe before.

  7. Richard Basile says:

    I was totally into the expo. Although, I spent two hours staffing the JustTri booth Saturday afternoon and then bought a moisture wicking skull cap. I am so happy about the skull cap.

  8. Jess says:

    Very late replying to this – but I had the same reaction. First expo, big expectations…and then a letdown. At least I was running the full and got the cool black shirt…I wouldn’t have been happy with the pink one, either!

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