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How To Navigate The New York City Marathon Expo

Photo: Steve Godwin
Photo: Steve Godwin

The first time I ran the New York City Marathon, I spent so much money at the expo that my British bank didn’t know what was going on and blocked my card, suspecting fraud.

I’ve since perfected (in my opinion) the art of the big city marathon expo, including who to bring, when to go and how to navigate without getting lost or spending too much money.

Here are my words of wisdom…

Timing Is Key

Get there early if possible, ideally before the doors actually open (if you can). This is particularly crucial if you’re only able to pick up your bib the day before the race when the expo is at it’s busiest. The New York City Marathon expo opens at 10 a.m., and when I went, by lunchtime the line was snaking out of the building and around the block. It’s even better if you’re able to visit in the first few days before the tourists arrive to the city.

Give Yourself A Budget

It can actually be a good idea to stock up on running ‘stuff’ at an expo, where there are often great deals on gels, bras, trainers and, not to mention, new products that are fun to try. If like me, you love the ‘stuff,’ then don’t stop yourself from shopping, but do make sure you make a budget and stick to it.

Have An Action Plan

Make a list of the aforementioned ‘stuff’ that you want to try, need to buy or booths to stop by. I tend to get overwhelmed and over-excited when there’s a huge room full of runners, gear, food and anything/everything related to running, so I need to rein it in, focus and also not take my boyfriend who will lose patience within minutes. Snake through the aisles either up and down, or along, unless you just have a few stalls to hit, otherwise you’ll end up walking round in circles without actually seeing the entire space.

Dress Appropriately

Expos are often HOT. Wear layers, especially if you’re planning on trying new running clothes on. Also wear appropriate underwear if you’re hoping to get a massage or taped up (maybe even bring a pair of shorts). Also, bring water.

Don’t Forget Anything

You’ll need an ID (even for those not running), and probably your race information to pick up your bib. I’d suggest heading straight to the bib pick-up before getting caught up visiting the brand booths. Stay strong, collect your bib and then shop.

Choose Carefully

Pick up plenty of freebies and samples, however, now is not the time to shove them all in your mouth. Pop them in your bag for another day, then stick to the foods/gels/snacks that your body knows and loves.

Don’t stay too long! Go back to your house or hotel and put your feet up, rest, hydrate and prepare for your 26.2 miles! GOOD LUCK!

Charlie Watson

Charlie Watson

Charlie Watson is a runner, fitness blogger at The Runner Beans, journalist and soon-to-be dietitian. She’s currently checking all six marathon majors off her race bucket list before she’s 30. Find her on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Bloglovin, as well as channeling her inner Casey Neistat on her new YouTube channel.