“Should old acquaintance be forgot”… now run! 2014 (the year of the horse, in case you’re wondering) is upon us. And it’s time to make immediately good on that resolution to run more and work off those holiday treats. The New Year’s Race (Half Marathon and 5K) takes place the first Saturday of the New Year and to make things even more interesting, it’s a nighttime jaunt starting in downtown Los Angeles. Last year’s race was the inaugural event and like all first year races, was plagued by a few course and organizational hiccups (aka growing pains). This year’s race featured 5,370 runners (1656 for the 5K and 3714 for the half Marathon) all raring to get 2014 rocking.
Tomorrow is my first race of 2014, the New Year’s half marathon in LA. That means tonight I get to go through my “night before race day” gear preparation. To non-runners who witness this ritual, it must seem like I’m experiencing an OCD episode combined with demonic possession. But to those of us who regularly run, the race prep is a sacred rite and part of the whole race experience.
Like the baseball players who don’t shave their beards during the playoffs or the football fans who refuse to wash their lucky jersey during a win streak (yuck), runners have their own superstitions or specific way of doing things that needs to be embraced… or at least tolerated.
On Saturday, I’ll be running my first half marathon of 2014. But before I can attempt to PR, heck before I can even head to the start line or lace up my shoes, I’ve got to take care of the first important part of the race experience… the runners’ expo.
And I love it.
Imagine all of the enthusiasm and anticipation (and swag) for a race stuffed into one place; that’s what a good expo represents. The great thing is that everyone who goes to a runners’ expo is either a racer or racer tagalong who is every bit as excited about running as you are (you are in the midst of your people). Typically scheduled for the day or two prior to a race, it’s the first taste runners get of the race to come as they file through to pick up their bibs, T-shirts, freebies, as well as sample the products of running vendors and get a sneak peek at races to come.
Mind you, all expos are not created equal. At some smaller races, their expo (if you can even call it that) might consist of a dozen tents featuring a few local vendors peddling forgettable wares. Rather, let’s ruminate about the big boys, the expos that accompany the large races.