When I heard the Rock and Roll Marathon series was coming to Canada via Montreal, I just knew that I had to sign up and make it a destination race. The allure of being a part of this inaugural event along with the ambience of the province of Quebec is too much to resist.
Today I’m headed to the race expo to pick up my race kit. As with any larger race I attend, I like to make the most of the whole experience and it begins with the expo. My prime directive for any race expo can be summarized in three short words: get free stuff.
So in the interest of maximizing running schwag accumulation, here are my best tips for navigating a race expo.
It pays to go early
If you can, get to the expo as early as possible. This ideally means going on the first day of the expo and as early as you possibly can. Going early ensures that you get the right race shirt size and also the best selection of free stuff. This year when I ran the Toronto Marathon, the earliest packet picker uppers got a free book and a bonus race shirt – I was definitely well rewarded for my earliness!
Get the race kit first
I always, always get my race kit first – besides this is the reason you have to be at the expo in the first place! I then immediately inspect everything in the race kit to ensure that I have everything (race bib, timing chip, shirt, etc.). This is where you check and double check that everything is right because now is the time to fix things if there are any problems. I also check the kit for any important race updates. There is often a detailed race guide which you should read through especially in terms of what the race does and does not provide – this may provoke you to ‘have to’ buy something at the expo.
Seek the schwag
While my head is buried race kit bag, I’m also on the lookout for any free schwag already included. Why buy something when it’s already free? (OK, so it may not be technically free because you paid a race registration, but don’t burst my bubble.) There are often discounts and coupons for items in the bag. I once got a free set of arm warmers at an exhibitor because I had conscientiously searched my race kit for anything resembling an offer. I then start my first pass at wandering through the expo with my free schwag radar on to see what other goodies I can squeeze into my bag.
Shopping at last
After my initial free schwag finding expedition, I then pass through the expo floor again based on the best deals I saw. The next best thing to free is discounted and there are often many deals to be found. I’ve seen combinations of vendors selling discontinued items at clearance prices as well as new items at introductory discounted prices. Oh what fun!
So there you go. I’m now on my way to the Rock and Roll Montreal Marathon expo. I’ll post an expo report to see if I’m successful at getting any free stuff. Hopefully I don’t get too caught up and forget to pick up my race kit.