I love the Boston Marathon. It’s been my favorite day of the year for many years, and it’s a big day for many, many runners. This is our Super Bowl, and runners have earned the right to be here through some serious hard work. Many have trained for years to get that qualifying time in. Others have put in some serious work to fundraise for their chosen charity. This is the reward. Yes… running 26.2 miles is the reward. We runners are a strange bunch.
This year the expo was at the Seaport Convention Center. While that did have a few advantages, overall I think Hynes is a much better fit. At Hynes you spill out the door of the expo and you are practically at finish line. I think it’s just easier logistics for runners. Since that finish line is the ultimate goal for so many people there, it’s the perfect fit to have the expo nearby. That said, the Seaport does allow for a more decorated ‘entryway’ to the expo, since it’s not smack dab in the center of the city. That did create a pretty sweet photo op!
Another gripe I had with this years expo was the layout of the floor. The massive official merchandise booth was right in the center, which is fine… except that its so large it requires walls with only a few entryways and a single post-checkout exit. This makes the whole show seem a bit smaller. It also makes it easier to miss entire sections of the expo that are on less trafficked sides of that wall. I spent most of the weekend at the expo, and I still missed a few booths. I’d much rather see the official merchandise booth be a part of the funnel: Enter, pickup bib, pickup shirt, official merchandise, then dropped out into main show floor. Of course there should be a prominent entrance back into this booth from the show floor side.
As I said earlier… this is the reward. Starting with the expo and all the way through the post race party, the resulting energy is powerful all weekend long. 30,000 runners and their friends and families are celebrating. This is the energy that first attracted me to the marathon, and that I can’t get enough of. As you walk around the expo hall, you can feel it. Runners exude an aura of accomplishment and excitement. They were here! They made it to Boston! As soon as I arrive, I can feel myself start to glow. This is what I live for!
Vendors from all over come to show their wares to these athletes. Surely, these are the ones who take their sport seriously and need to know about their products! All sorts of cool stuff to try out. Samples, sales, demonstrations, discussions. All the best of what our sport has to offer. I’m wowed every year by some of the great technology I see (for example Solos and Stryd). These are gadgets I’d love to put to work! Then there are some of the simple solutions that really do make a difference. I always look forward to finding my friends from the RooSport at this and other expos. I’ve sworn by their pouch for many years now. It’s simple and it works. No belt, just a simple magnet to hold your pouch to the clothes you are already wearing. RaceDots use the same basic concept to comfortably attach your race bib. All sorts of apparel is available: from Boston Marathon memorabilia to general running gear. Safety products like Brilliant Reflective designed to make us more visible on the road (or, as I half jokingly say, also makes us a target to some Miami drivers) and recovery products like the Stick designed to get us back out on the road! Gels, bars, chews and drinks, you can easily find your nutritional needs. Massage chairs and recovery boots… you name it, it’s here! Between the festive energy, the cool stuff and the giveaways and samples, I joke that this is Halloween for runners.
But there’s more! Book signings and event promotions. Running legends and heroes. I end up spending the entire weekend here, as well as contemplating a million other future races. From Gasparilla, which I’ve run many times before, to races around the country and the world which I hope to run one day, and the dream to do list Marathon Tours consistently provides… all the way up to one of my bucket list headliners: The World Marathon Challenge. 7 marathons, 7 continents, 7 days. Yes! I’m that crazy! I just need a sponsor to make that happen! It’s not just Mondays race: The entire Boston Marathon weekend rocks!
With the change in location though, I was torn on Sunday… part of me wanted to go back and spend the day at the expo again. Part of me felt the need to be exactly where I was just five years earlier. The finish area and Old South Church were calling my name! Regrettably, the transit time meant I’d have to choose. I was glad I’d made the expo on Saturday, as an important find made that choice easier. I’d honor that five years at the Martin Richard Foundation booth. I set an alarm on my iPhone and made sure I had enough time to get to the booth before 2:49. For the past five years, Martins spirit has been a large part of what has propelled me forward despite my own challenges. I could think of no better way than to honor his memory than to be there with those who were equally inspired by his legacy
So at 2:49 we held a moment of silence. A few minutes later, there was an expo wide moment of silence. Five years ago five good people were lost, but their memories will be forever honored. Today is One Boston Day: We pause to reflect on those we’ve lost, to uphold their legacies, and focus on all the good this great loss has inspired. Tomorrow, once again, I would run in their honor. Tomorrow, Boston and the entire running community will observe Patriots Day. We will always celebrate the greatness that is the Boston Marathon, and how now more than ever it reflects the triumph of the human spirit! We will collectively honor the tradition of this race. For Dennis. For Sean. For Krystle. For Lingzi. For Martin.