Posted by: Dean Hebert | January 12, 2008

A Visit to the PF Chang’s Rock N Roll Marathon Expo

If you have not been lucky enough to attend a Runners Expo in association with one of the large races around the country, you’re missing out. They are usually held in conjunction with packet pick-up the two days before the race. My most memorable Runners Expos experiences are from Boston. However, Rock’n’Roll Arizona can hold its own with any. The two ladies I attended this with (Jan & Christina) had already been the first day. It must be good. When I mentioned that I didn’t want to go alone, they jumped at the chance – packed up Jan’s kids (3 & 5) and away we went.

I’m not going to do a product review of things I saw and sampled. It would take days. But a great aspect of an expo is that you get a chance to sample products and compare competitors because they are just one aisle away. Most of the people go to get the freebies galore along with tasty idbits – shoe bags, sacks of all sorts, cow bells (they’re so cool), posters, key fobs, shoe key holders, signs and more, as long as they last.

One of the things I love is the chance to sample drinks and other nutritional items. I get as confused as anyone and they all state that they are the “best” for you; some are organic; some have protein and some are just carbohydrates; some are touted as more “digestible”. In the end, it’s the one that is most palatable that is “best”. Why you say? Simple, a great replenishment drink that sits in the cupboard because it tastes like medicine does you no good. (A couple research articles have even made that very statement.) So, dig in. There were energy bars from companies I was completely unfamiliar with. There was indeed one natural drink that tasted like medicine to all of us (so it wasn’t just my taste buds).  And of course for your favorites, they have plenty in supply to sell you right there. You don’t have to wait and go to your local grocery or running store.

If you have kids, don’t let that stop you from attending. Want to know a hidden bonus to parents with young ones? It’s tasting time. Bite sized pieces of snack-like items (energy bars & drinks) keep them occupied and cow bells let you know where they are. (Everyone knows where your
kids are!) All the while, you peruse the plethora of running gear. Local as well as national vendors are present in droves. Every vendor had “Expo Sale” prices, usually 15% off. Some were even 20% and there were a lot of buy- two-get-one-free deals. Oh, did I tell you to bring cash and a credit card?
A new one for me was what RoadRunner Sports did. They had “once worn shoes” of every make and model imaginable (and some I didn’t recognize). All were $50 a pair. If you could find your style and size it was a bargain. It was popular with the runners judging from the success of the sales. The first day there were “mountains” of shoes available according to Christina. There were two tables – single layered with shoes – left on day two. Along that line, many other vendors were out of some good
giveaways too. Lesson – if you want to take advantage of the very best stuff, get there on the first day of the expo.

But there is one unmistakable indescribable reason to attend: the electric charged atmosphere and being in one location with thousands of kindred spirits. You can hear the excitement and pre-race nervousness in their speech. It’s simply contagious. Perhaps illustrating its effects I overheard too young women chatting. One tells the other, “next year, I’m running this!” That is what it does for you and to you.

Coach Dean Hebert
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