For many races you either get your number in an envelope through the post, or you turn up a little bit earlier than the start time to collect your bib on the day. For BIG races, such as the London Marathon, you have to attend an expo to collect your number before the big day.
The London Marathon expo is one hell of a show.
I went up on Thursday to collect my race number – spookily, of all the times (the Expo is open from Tuesday to Saturday), and of all the people (36,000+ runners), the man that I followed into the excel, all the way down the concourse, and ultimately to the registration desk, was exactly one place ahead of me – yep, he was number 21728 and I am 21729! That’s a good omen, right?
The expo is generally a very good way to spend a lot of time on your feet, and a lot of money from your wallet. I am always happy to buy things, and I did spend a lot of time staring at Garmin watches and New Balance trainers, but I restrained myself. Somehow.
To get off my feet I sat and listened to the presentations from Martin Yelling about raceday itself, and from sports nutrition author Anita Bean. They both had interesting insights to offer.
Amongst the many areas trying to sell you stuff, the expo is littered with charities so I made sure to head over to the NSPCC stand and say hi to the guys there. I got some last minute info for race day and where Mum and Dad can go to support me, and picked up a couple of handy sweatbands too.
Once I decided to escape the madness of the expo, I headed outside for a bite to eat and spotted Martin Yelling at a table. I went to meet him, say hi, and to thank him for all he does with Marathon Talk and the running community at large. He was more interested in asking how my Dad was doing following his hip surgery. I grabbed a burger and then made my way to my next stop….
Freestak are developing their engagement with both Brands and with Influencers, and the area in between – influencer marketing. They have been running some interesting surveys to assess the state of the market and how each can work better together. This culminated in PEAK, an opportunity for the two to come together and network. Thankfully the Crystal is no more than a few minutes from the Excel, and it happened to be taking place on the one day I had already booked from work to go to the expo; I jumped at the chance to attend.
The evening started with a drinks reception and opportunity to chat with other bloggers, athletes, and brands. Immediately I felt out of my depth as I was surrounded by some people do incredible things – foremost of which was Luke Tyburski who has some amazing stories to tell of his incredible adventures. We headed into the conference room where we were subjected to a couple of hours of incredible speakers discussing wonderful things. Julie and Lenka from Freestak kicked off with some interesting information about what influencer marketing means to both brands, and us as bloggers, and how to two can engage even better.
Julie Falconer took this one step further with some really great insights having quit her job in finance a number of years ago and has gone on to build great success in her travel writing. Next up, Michael Price from Asics talked to us from the Brand perspective and really highlighted some key points to us – the bit that really struck me was the importance of talking with passion and understanding the ‘myths and legends’ of a product, not just the tech-specs. Finally Sophie Radcliffe, better known as Challenge Sophie, basically talked me into quitting my job and pursuing my dreams of doing amazing things. Her story was incredible, and very exciting to listen to.
This whole event was a total success. I have come away asking myself some really big questions about why I do what I do, and how I should be doing it.
Having also attended a talk by world record holder, Susie Chan, earlier in the week at Cranleigh Golf Club this has been one hell of a week of inspiration. I am super pumped for running the Virgin Money London Marathon on Sunday. Bring it on.
You can still donate to the NSPCC to sponsor me for Sunday’s marathon effort – https://bit.ly/ChrisMercerRuns
And you can guess my time by playing along here: https://bit.ly/chrismercermarafun