I love expos and conventions. I just do. Yeah, half of them are often filled with shucksters and what-not, but the other half is often gold.
Today was day one of the CIM (California International Marathon) Expo. Ostensibly, the event is designed for participants to pick up their “race packets” (bib number, timing chip, drop bag) but there’s a whole bunch of vendors there too. There’s just something about booth vendors that just appeals to me. A long time ago I used to sell bonsai trees at events like this, and I guess I grew fond of the types of folks that come to these events to hawk their wares.
Now, I’m not talking about the shady crap. There’s definitely a dark undercurrent of “contests” and other ugly stuff that I just walk right on by. There were one or two of those booths. What I’m there to see and experience is the really excited, super passionate folks that are there. Here’s a few of the ones you should go see tomorrow:
They’re a major sponsor and you can see it by the size of their booth. “Booth” is a misnomer, FF got the entire center section and they’ve got everything you need, AND much of it is discounted. Had I known this, I probably would have waited till today to pick up a few things. Lesson learned.
The best part though is that not only is Fleet Feet here, but they have reps from several of their product lines. I was a quasi-rep for a ski company a while back when skiing for Dynastar, and I always like to chat these guys up. They live and breath their product lines. The HOKA ONE ONE rep was there and we had a great conversation. Like me, he used HOKA shoes for their comfort factor and we got to talk about some of the new ones coming in, as well as some issues I’ve experienced. It was clear he loved the product and I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation. Reps like that are great for products, and Fleet Feet really benefited from having guys like him there.
This was an interesting booth. The booth was Newton shoes, but the guys running it run two shoe shops in the SF Bay area. Another group of really excited guys, I got to try on a pair and run in them. They’re very cool, and for someone looking for LOTS of speed/energy return I could see these being amazing. For me and my ugly knees they were a bit much, but a ton of fun zooming around on.
This Sacramento area running group has been around since the year I was born (1974). I know this because their president was hanging around their booth chatting people up. Very cool gentleman with a ton of info about their club, history and events. I’m strongly considering joining them, they seem like a great group.
As a final note, I was very impressed with the general handling of the bib/chips bags and just the feel of the event. There were lots of volunteers, and tons of help and information everywhere. I’ve run in other events where the pickup was shoved in the back of some shop, and the difference is huge. I was expecting chaos, I got quiet competence. Super awesome. If you’ve thought about running a marathon, it seems like this one is a good one to start off with. Everyone I talked to commented that the course was generally fast, and that the only issues were the occasional rains and the nearly always frigid mornings. Check it out, and sign up next year!