When I was a youngster I liked to go to ideal homes exhibitions. All those stands and their products fascinated me, especially the ones showing a loop of cheesy promotional videos for carpet cleaner or attic stairs or whatever. And I’d always fill up on free stuff like flyers and pens.
I was reminded of this today because an integral part of the marathon experience is the expo – that cross between a registration tent and running trade fair which takes place in the days before big marathons.
Ahead of this Monday’s 2014 edition of the race, the Dublin Marathon expo opened today (Saturday) at the main hall of the RDS in Ballsbridge and continues tomorrow (Sunday). It won’t be open on race day morning, though – by then the marathon jamboree will have moved to the start area around Merrion Square.
For my first few marathons, I found the expo a thing of wonder. Even as a non-club lone wolf who doesn’t mix with other runners, I got a buzz from being among a throng of fellow marathoneers, all thinking and feeling the same things as me ahead of the race. The bazaar of stalls promoting gear, energy bars and other races made the running world seem a wider, deeper place than the one mapped by my running routes and training log. I had the sensation that around some corner, out of some stand, would pop the secret of running.
These days I have a more prosaic approach to the marathon expo. As if I were robbing a bank, I get in, do the job as quickly as possible and then get out.
So, I can’t give you a particularly detailed review of the 2014 Dublin Marathon expo. I got in, and after serving a few minutes in a fast-moving queue I picked up my race number and bag. This process spat me out at the exhibition stands – gear, other races, energy bars, stuff like that. I also spotted a stage for talks and a space to sit and eat pasta. Then I left.
If you’re running this year’s Dublin Marathon then you’ll discover all of this for yourself.
I keep my marathon expo visits brief because I want to spend as little time as possible on my feet before the race. But for other runners the marathon expo will still be a wonderland.
One thing I did notice, though – the stands are giving away plenty of free pens. Fill your pockets!