The Energy of the Expo: Do’s and Don’ts for First Timers
The wait is nearly over. The 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance opens on Thursday, November 1, at 10 a.m.
This is when it gets real for this year’s marathoners as they arrive to pick up their bibs and race shirts, buy official New York City Marathon New Balance gear, listen to course strategy sessions by NYRR’s coaches, and sample all the hype that comes with the world’s greatest marathon. For some, the expo is their favorite part of race week as they revel in the energy. And for first-time marathoners who have never been to the TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance, our bloggers have put together some essential do’s and don’ts.
But whatever you do, make sure you pick up your bib before 5 p.m. on Saturday!
Try On the Sample Shirt
Personally I don’t wear my official TCS New York City Marathon race shirt until I’ve actually finished the race. However, I make sure I’ve got the right size at the expo and change it if it’s too big or small. Don’t be embarrassed to take advantage of the sample shirt—put it on over the shirt your wearing. Don’t regret having the wrong size afterward when there’s nothing you can do.
Get an epic photo with your bib, which is guaranteed to garner a lot of likes on social media and it’s a great way to share your bib number with those who might want to track you on race day. Stop by your favorite brand booths to stock up on their expo specials and discounts.
And buy the official gear. Nothing says ‘I’ve run the NYC marathon’ like some memorabilia. Sadly, you can’t wear your medal daily, but a vest or long sleeve is subtle enough to wear year-round!
Have a Plan
Enjoy the excitement of the expo, but have a plan. First, ensure you get your bib and shirt, and make sure you’re squared away with any last-minute questions on your race-day transit. Also, snap a fun pic with the NYC Marathon backdrop and your bib to post online, so your supporters can track you.
Then enjoy all the cool gear and samples at the expo. Just make sure you don’t overexert yourself so you’re rested for the race. Also, race day is not the time for new fuels or food products that you buy at the expo. Save those for later.
Soak Up the Information
The most important thing is to get your bib number. Everything else is secondary. To make this mandatory process as smooth as possible, remember your government-issued ID and confirmation form.
If it’s possible, plan to get to the expo early. Ideally visit on Thursday or Friday to beat the crowds on Saturday where it closes at 5 p.m., as this is the last opportunity to get your race bib.
There’s so much knowledge at the expo, from the featured expert talks on how to tackle the course, as well as general running tips. Also, there’s opportunities for meet and greets with your heroes.
You’re about to enter the victory lap, so have a look at the prize on offer. The finisher medal will be at the expo, but make sure you earn yours at the finish line. It will be tough, but remember your “reason why” as you reach the finish line. Focus on the feeling of having that finisher medal around your neck after the months of tough training.
Finally, if you are going for the Abbott World Marathon Majors six-star medal, go to the Abbott stand. See the medal and get inspired by the global runners on the list. The 2016 NYC marathon inspired me to complete the six, so it will be the first time since earning the six-star medal where I’ll see my name on the list.
The expo can be overwhelming with so many runners, spectators, and vendors, so make sure you allow enough time to take it all in and enjoy it.
Start by getting your bib and ensuring you know how you are getting to the start line. After that, you can take photos and shop. I love marathon souvenirs, whether it's a top, leggings, or a mug for my tea. It's a great reminder of what you've achieved, plus you get to show your friends that you have run a marathon.
Watch the Course Strategy Sessions
My favorite part of the NYC Marathon experience, other than the actual race, is the expo. The TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance is massive and there is so much to see and do. If you’re concerned about resting your legs before the race, try to visit the expo in the days leading up to the race, as opposed to Saturday. I recommend getting your bib first—especially if you just want to get in and out.
If you do have an opportunity to walk the expo floor, there will be no shortage of samples, vendors, and useful information for runners. I loved the course strategy sessions that take place throughout the day. Being able to visualize the course ahead of time allowed me to prepare for the infamous bridges.
In the days leading up the race, the feeling in NYC is electric and it all starts when you enter the expo.
Snap a Picture at the Name Wall
If you can get there on Thursday or early Friday, do it. It gets busy—and I mean busy—on Saturday. The last thing you want to do the day before a 26.2-mile race is to stand in line for hours.
Take your time at the expo, walk around, purchase the TCS NYC Marathon jacket—this is the largest marathon in the world and you’re going to want to show off the fact that you ran it for years to come.
As a bonus, you can come meet me if you’re there on Friday. I’ll be fulfilling my 9+1 volunteer requirement to get into the 2019 TCS NYC Marathon by handing out bibs until 3 p.m. I don’t know what number range I’ll be working, but look for the bald guy with the big head, most likely with a GoPro, recording his bib handout duties.
One of my favorite aspects of previous marathons has been the name wall, which was previously housed at the TCS New York City Marathon Pavilion in Central Park near Tavern on the Green (Ed’s note: The name wall has been relocated to the The TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance and is now bigger than ever).
The wall has the names of all 50,000 people registered to run the race. It’s the perfect place to get a quick pic.
Take It All In
I try to keep my expo experience super brief. I get in and out, grab my T-shirt and bib, and maybe pick up my race nutrition for the day if I haven’t already.
This wasn’t always my strategy. I recall some races where I’ve taken the time to try on every single “race finishers” item and try every new product. I can’t say I’ve always regretted doing that but, personally, remaining in the expo for a long time can add to my pre-race anxiety. No matter how quick your expo time may be, please do pause and take it all in—it’s about to get real.
Take All the Photos
Take a ton of photos. Some of my favorite photos from years past are the ones where I'm excitedly holding my bib at the expo. It's that giddy smile, coupled with the "oh I hope I don't lose this bib between now and Sunday" energy.
Some people love shopping and going to every booth, which can be super fun because there's so much good stuff. Just take all my money, vendors. But if you don't do well in large crowds or you're feeling really nervous, just get in and get out. There's no pressure to visit every single booth.
The 2018 TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance will take place at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, Halls 3B and 3E, at 11th Avenue at West 35th Street, November 1-3, 2018. Runners must visit the expo in person during the hours listed below to pick up their race materials. Please bring photo ID and your runner confirmation form with you.
The TCS New York City Marathon Expo Presented by New Balance is the largest running exhibition in the country, and one of the top 10 health and fitness expos in the world. After picking up your race materials, enjoy shopping at the New Balance store; visiting more than 130 vendors; getting race-day advice at the NYRR Running Lab; and checking out the Runners' Wall, the Celebration Wall, and New York Road Runners info areas to learn about NYRR Virtual Racing, Global Running Day, the 2019 United Airlines NYC Half, and more.