January 8, 2014
If you’ve never been to any kind of trade show or exposition (expo), I highly suggest you check one out. They can be quite entertaining and you can often get lots of freebies.
The Health and Fitness Expo that occurs before each of the runDisney races is where every runner has to go to pick up their bib and gear bags. For marathon weekend, everyone running the Dopey event must go to packet pickup at the expo on Wednesday since we’ll be running first thing Thursday morning and runDisney doesn’t allow for same day packet pickup. That means the fitness expo will also be a bit of a zoo.
I chose to work since I live only 40 minutes from Disney World. But, I followed some fellow runners posting on Twitter and Facebook and the expo was indeed mayhem. To start, New Balance introduced a new line of runDisney inspired shoes and runners and Disney lovers alike were lining up well in advance of the opening of the expo to get their hands on them. I wasn’t interested in the shoes but it was fun to watch others excitement over trying to get them. New Balance worked with the runDisney folks to create a reservation system so interested parties had to get in a queue in order to get a reservation time. At the designated reservation time, the party returned to the designated area where they would wait to get into the New Balance booth to try on and purchase their shoes. With all that, I’m kind of glad I wasn’t really interested in them!
I left work a bit early to do a work errand and then I headed over to Orlando and to the Wide World of Sports Complex to get my packet and gear. I had hoped that since I was coming later in the afternoon, the mayhem will have died down and it wouldn’t be too busy meaning I’d be able to hit the booths I wanted without it being overly crowded. I used the online Event Guide (view it here) for the weekend to map out where I needed to go and what booths at the expo I wanted to visit. This gave me a plan and made it much easier and far less stressful for me.
I got to the WWOS complex about 6 PM. This gave me two hours to get my bib and gear and then shop the vendors I wanted to visit. So, I followed my plan and went to pickup my bib and gear first. This was very efficient for me as there was NO ONE in my line. I walked right up to the desk, gave the volunteer my signed waiver and my ID and got my bib and instructions in about 15 seconds. It was great! I then headed over to pickup my shirts and gear bag and my commemorative items. Again, this was all very quick given it was nearly the end of the day and most of the Dopey runners had already picked up their items. I also picked up ChEAR squad items since I have a cheerleader coming for marathon day.
When I finish getting everything I needed in the packet area, I hit the official runDisney merchandise booth. There is also one in the main expo hall but this one is relatively empty of shoppers, so it’s a chance for me to browse without getting completely trampled by people. They don’t have all of the weekend merchandise in this booth, but they have a good bit of it so I take my time browsing.
I didn’t see them last year, but there was a runDisney Mickey Vinylmation and you could get medals for each of the races for it. After seeing some of them on eBay, I knew this was an item I wanted. This year, the runDisney Mickey came in two colors; yellow and green; and you can’t tell which is which in the package (it’s a surprise). The box says that 3 out of every 10 are green and I REALLY want a green one (green is my favorite color). I know I must’ve stood there dwellling over this for 10 minutes. I already have the medal for my Mickey in my hand but I don’t have Mickey. I finally reach up and grab a box from the back row. I didn’t see anything else I wanted so I head to the checkout and pay for my items.
I still have to go to the main expo hall to get my last shirt (for the Family Fun Run 5k) and to hit a couple of other booths so I put my new purchases in one of the gear bags. It’s still quite crowded for it to be so late in the day. It doesn’t take me too long to get my last gear bag and shirt. To exit this area, you’re funneled through the runDisney merchandise booth so I took a few minutes to walk around here. Most of the items were quite picked over but I did find my Dopey car magnet and one for my fridge as well. I didn’t buy any shirts or other items because frankly, I just won’t wear them. I have many race shirts and I don’t wear most of those either! I really should make a blanket out of them or something!
I made my way through the crowds and got to stop at the booths I wanted. I visited Raw Threads (cute clothes that are great for running), Bondi Bands (some of my favorite headbands; these are wide and they stay put for the long haul!), and Sparkly Soul (my favorite sparkly headbands; they don’t pull my hair and they are so comfortable). I did miss a couple of things but I’m kind of ready to get going. I have to drive back home since I’m not staying on property tonight (saving me a night of hotel and a night of kenneling my dogs is worth a little extra gas). I also know that I have an early morning since I’ll have to drive back up for the race.
There was a lot to see at the expo and I always find something that I like. This expo is bigger than any of the previous ones I’ve visited at other runDisney events so I even saw some new items and vendors that I’d like to check out later during the weekend. I like trying new things as well and there were a couple of freebies handed out along the way. I can’t wait to try some of my new items and to find out if I got the green Mickey Vinylmation.
Until next time…