Fidgety runners were flowing in and out of the lobby like ants swarming on an ice cream bar left in the sun. Wearing clothes that were breathable, fast drying, wind resistant, versatile, able to wick moisture, warm but yet still light, the Hilton convention center looked the part for the 2012 Eugene marathon health and fitness expo.
The convention that started 5 years ago was started to help with volunteer check in, runners picking up their race information and exhibitors looking to display new clothing, techniques and running clubs that are available to the distance runners. The expo runs the Friday and Saturday prior to the marathon.
Runners participating in the marathon, half marathon and 5k came here to receive the bibs they will dawn in the race. This year the bib will have a computer chip inside of it to provide the racers time throughout the race. Preciously the chip had been placed on the runner’s shoe.
In the midst of this wild running heaven, which had people mindlessly bouncing into one another like atoms due to them being overtaken by the amount of exhibitors , participant David Adams was looking to pick up another marathon bib to add to his collection. “I have been looking forward to this weekend for a while. This marathon kicks off my training for the Iron Man,” said Adams.
Adams has been doing endurance races for sometime. His usual day will begin at 3 a.m. with some training. He says he will conclude his day around 8 or 9 p.m. “I enjoy this expo because I always can see new items that I would not see at big sports stores,” said Adams.
“The expo has 58 booths of various businesses all committed to working with and assisting long distance runners in their efforts to finish the marathon,” said Andy Downin expo coordinator.
The expo has everything a runner could need and then some. If you need a running skirt with a matching pair of argyle running sleeves, Sweet Spot Skirts will have what you need.
The expo also offers speakers to provide runners a chance to listen and learn from a established distance runners.
Runners sat shockingly motionless as U.S. marathoner Meb Keflezighi answered questions from the crowd after his 40-minute narrative how he started his life in Eritrea, Africa and went on to win the New York City Marathon.
“I never doubted myself, but my mother told me to let my brother and sister be the runners,” said Keflezighi after being asked if he ever doubted himself by a crowd member who had a shirt that said running is my therapy.
Racers in need of some nutrition only had to walk across the convetion to the room opposite from the speech. In this room you could find runner’s feed that had names like sports beans, energy gel, malted wheat bars, power up bars, GU Chomps, electrolyte brew and something called roks, which is a protein supplement in the form of a rock. Cliff’s new gummy cube supplement was a hit with all the kids.
The convention also is home to contraptions runners can try that offer new assistance to runners in training.
William Howe was experiencing a product called The Stick, which will harshly massage a runner’s hamstring to make it stronger. The tool can only be enjoyred by marathon runners or a masochist.
“I ran the half marathon last year and when I finished I felt I had a tightness in my legs. Trying new items like this always keeps me thinking of how I can improve,” said Howe.
Howe is not running this race alone his girlfriend Emily Zoboski will start the race with him. “He’ll stay with me for a mile, but then he’ll leave me in the dust. I should finish 10 minutes behind him,” said Zoboski as she looked over some new running gloves that said in hot pink letters “I run like a girl, so try and keep up.”
There are opportunities for those who may be lonesome runners to find new running clubs or charities to run for in the marathon at the expo.
Quietly sitting with a smile on her face was Charlene Fauria. She was promoting the charity running club Team In Training.
“Team In Training will take a novice runner and help them in learning how to finish a marathon while raising money to help the fight against cancer,” said Fauria.
Team In Training will have 81 participants in the Eugene Marathon coming from Eugene, Portland, Washington and Alaska. Each person will have raised $1,000 to $3,000 to help in the research in the fight against Leukemia and Lymphoma.
“This group has trained over half a million people while raising $1.2 billion,” said Fauria.
For those runners wanting another 26.2-mile jaunt, marathons such as Seattle, Portland, Lake Chelan offered runners other marathons that they will be hosting in the upcoming months. The representative from Lake Chelan said the marathon they host is the most scenic one around.
The 1,000 plus volunteers that were assisting to make the marathon a success also came to the expo to pick up their green and yellow tidied shirts and find the location their assistance was needed to be for the race.
The convention had plenty to offer the 8,400-plus participants once they entered the expo center. Runners that had worked hard to train for the race wore smiles on their faces in this runner’s nirvana as they walked through ample and diverse amounts of merchandise with the numbers they would wear the next day in their blue reusable bags.