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Friday, May 2, 2014

Pittsburgh Marathon Expo

Among the most exciting parts of participating in a medium or large race is attending the expo.  While it doesn't have the slickness of a Nike Women's Expotique or the sheer enormity of a RunDisney extravaganza, Pittsburgh puts on a pretty good show complete with everything from massages to a speaker series to live spin classes.

The expo opened at 11:00 this morning.  11:00 on a Friday seemed like a reasonable time to go, a time that would be relatively uncrowded and drama free.  Needless to say, I was surprised when I turned the corner on Liberty Ave towards the Convention Center to face this:

Is this the line for Space Mountain?

Kennywood opens this weekend.  Could this be the line for the Potato Patch?

Despite the fact that the expo was advertised to open at 11:00, runners waited in queue until 11:20 to be let in.  A last minute volunteer shortage?  Some sort of snafu with bibs or shirts?  Nobody seemed to know.  For a medium-sized race field, this was a positively Disney-sized line!

Eventually, doors opened.  After heading to the right and grabbing bibs and shirts, the expo cleverly winds runners through a sea of vendors before we could retrieve goodie bags and race shirts on the far side of the Convention Center. This was my second Pgh Marathon expo, so I had a sense of what vendors to expect.   

So many yinzer-approved choices at Fresh Factory!

The Yinzer crowd was predictably thick at Fresh Factory, where I snagged a new shirt to be worn at the pet walk tomorrow.   A ton of apparel was available from other vendors including local shops like True Runner and 'Burgh-headquartered sporting goods superstore Dick's.  

The Dick's Sporting Goods pop-up shop on a mock Pittsburgh bridge.

Dick's Sporting Goods set up their pop-up shop on a "bridge" modeled after Pittsburgh's three sisters bridges over the Allegheny River.  The mock bridge was an aesthetic highlight of the expo and will no doubt win the award for "Most Instagrammed" feature.  Dick's also sold the official marathon gear, manufactured by Asics.  Personally, I had mixed feelings about the selection.  The women's gear appeared to be mostly pink, purple, and geared toward the half-marathon.  I assure you, I wasn't too thrilled about this.  However, on the men's side of things, I found a shirt that I loved both the design and the fit of.

Running up the incline is probably easier than running into Oakland in mile 12.

A lot of the features at the expo were expected - t-shirt sales, massages, info for other races.  There was one thing this year that was new and fairly interesting.  Dormont (and soon to be South Side) cycling studio Club Cycle set up a cycling studio in the expo and held classes throughout the day!  Their unique concept involves spin classes underscored by a live DJ where cyclists track the stats of their ride real-time on a digital scoreboard.  Once I'm recovered from the race, Club Cycle is definitely on my to-do list.

Cycling class with instructor Stacie and DJ Bill Bara

There were a ton of other activities.  I didn't attend the speaker series, but I did talk for a while with members of the NuGo pace team about pacing strategies, got the skinny from the Garmin rep on their family of watches (there may be a Forerunner 220 in my future), and enjoyed a deep discount on the EQT 10-miler and the Liberty Mile by registering at the Expo.  Other highlights included the modern Expo standard wall of all runners' names as well as the Every Runner Has a Reason wall where runners used metallic markers to pen their personal reasons for running.

Haley Buchanan - That's me!

An inspirational note on the #RunFor wall

And a mouth-watering one!  I too run for booze milkshakes!

In the end, I learned some things, I bought some things, and I generally got geared up for this weekend's races.  However, as is always the case, there is someone else in my life that got the lion's share of the swag.  Thanks to the Pet Walk's generous goodie bag and the cornucopia of canine treats at the Purina Pro Plan booth, someone's got a lot of new treats and toys in his life:

This isn't even all of his loot.

I will wear bandana if I can has treats!

Have a great race weekend everyone!

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