2017 Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

The excitement of Chicago Marathon weekend kicked off one week ago today.  After one last visit to the chiropractor before the race, we headed to the airport for a lunch time flight to Chicago.  At the airport it was clear that there were lots of other runners on our flight.  Between seeing other people wearing race shirts and jackets from other races, and seeing others carrying foam rollers in their arms, you could feel the excitement of the race in the terminal at Reagan.

We arrived at Midway around 1pm, and after a short wait for my parents, who also joined us in Chicago for the weekend, we were on our way.  We had planned for them to drop me off at the expo at McCormick Place on their way downtown to the hotel, and during our drive I excitedly texted my friend Kathleen, who was at the expo waiting to meet up with me.

Walking into McCormick Place, I could tell that the Chicago Marathon expo would be different than other expos that I have been to.  Between the sheer number of people and all of the race decor, as well as the excitement that you could feel resonating through the air, I could tell that this was going to be an expo experience like no other, and it did not disappoint.

My first stop was packet pickup, where I received my bib and other race credentials.  Just outside the entrance to the expo itself was a monitor displaying the video of the course, which was exciting to watch while holding my bib.  After watching the video for a few minutes we walked into the expo.

The Chicago Marathon expo was by far the largest race expo that I have ever been to.  Kathleen and I spent just under two hours wandering the expo floor, visiting numerous vendors including Asics, Brooks, Fleet Feet, North Face, Sparkly Soul, and Sweaty Bands.  It was fun to be able to see all of the different brands’ Chicago merchandise, although by mid afternoon a lot of merchandise was already gone.  Kathleen had arrived at the expo when it first opened that morning, and said that there was a much wider variety of Chicago specific merchandise available at the vendors when she first arrived.  I wasn’t too disappointed, though I did find it interesting that after only being open for a couple of hours, and with another full day the next day, that some vendors were already starting to run out of their merchandise.

One of the booths where we spent quite a bit of time was the Ronald McDonald House Charities booth.  Since I ran Chicago with Team RMHC, this was a necessary stop in order for me to check in with them and receive my access sticker to the RMHC tent.  I also picked up support crew shirts for my family.

RMHC support crew gear

I found the expo itself to be quite organized.  The participant bag and t-shirt pickup lined the far back wall of the itself.  Although some might have seen it as an inconvenience to walk the entire length of the expo floor in order to get to it, by taking up an entire wall at McCormick Place allowed for there to be plenty of space in between the lines for each shirt size, and it didn’t feel crowded whatsoever.  In the back corner I also picked up my official race poster.

My bib, participant shirt, race program, and poster

Prior to leaving the expo we made a stop at the Nike area, which was the official merchandise for the race.  I’m not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed in the merchandise options for this race, and liked the other vendors’ shirts a lot better.  However, I knew that I would kick myself if I didn’t pick up at least one official item to commemorate my first marathon, and decided on a blue tank with the 40th anniversary race logo on it.  I know that I will get a lot of use out of it and that it wasn’t a waste of money, or just “settling” on something to buy.

The North Face shirt, Nike tank, and Sparkly Soul headband that I bought at the expo

As we walked the expo floor we took advantage of all of the photo ops.  It was a fun way to get excited for the race itself.

After spending just under two hours at the expo, we called it a day.  Kathleen and I said our goodbyes and I headed downstairs to catch the free shuttle downtown.  After waiting in line for about 15 minutes, and then the twenty minute ride on a school bus, I was dropped off just behind the Niketown store on Michigan Avenue, which was right around the corner from our hotel.  I met up with my family who had already checked into the hotel, headed out to dinner, and afterwards called it an early night.  I was exhausted, but excited about being less than 48 hours away from running my first marathon!

QOTD: What is your favorite thing about race expos?

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32 Responses to 2017 Chicago Marathon Expo Recap

  1. I love race expos and always end up with stuff that I really don’t need. That’s half the fun I think

  2. AJ says:

    That sounds like such a cool experience! I love the tank you chose:)

  3. I enjoy race expos…the excitement is so thick! But, sometimes the crowds of people are annoying if there are groups of people who refuse to split up and others through. For me, it’s really hit/miss on scoring deals…

  4. Large race expos can be so exciting. It stinks when you want something to commemorate such an iconic race and you’re underwhelmed with the merchandise. I kind of felt that way when I ran NYC.

  5. Rachel says:

    I’m not a big fan of expos. I’d rather just get my bib and be out. Or better yet, have it mailed to me! 🙂

  6. Expos definitely get me excited for the race but I don’t like to spend too much time there! If it’s two days out from the race I may linger more but if it’s the day before I’m usually in and out!

  7. astechmann says:

    I loved all your pictures! I felt like I went to the expo with you. This expo is by far the best expo I have ever been to. The first time I went to it was in 2001 and it was awesome then and continues to be. Way to rock it!

  8. Farrah says:

    Hooray for awesome and well-organized expos! I like all the photo opps they had! :] I like the tank you chose too!

  9. Clarinda says:

    I think it’s so fun to walk an expo with a friend.

  10. Wendy says:

    I don’t love expos, but I do love the Chicago Marathon expo! I think it sets the bar so high for all the others. It can be overwhelming, though!

  11. Since I live here, I’ve been to McCormick place for all kinds of events so I am never surprised by its vast size. This is my 5th Chicago and I know exactly which vendors I want to see and what I want to buy. We are usually in and out in an hour. I have all 5 posters hanging in my workout room!

  12. Coco says:

    Sounds like a great expo. I’ve been to conference events there and know how HUGE it is. I wonder if people bought merchandise to re-sell?

  13. agsignor says:

    So cool! Glad you took us with you to let us experience some of this.

  14. I’m super sad I didn’t get to spend more time at the expo! My flight landed at like 6:00pm Friday and I raced to my hotel and on. I didn’t want to deal with it Saturday.

  15. Lesley says:

    I like expos if I’ve traveled somewhere, but not for a local race. When I did the Dallas half, I was in and out in no time. It’s easier when I travel because that’s the reason I’m there, and most of the time I can take transportation and not worry about parking.

  16. Pingback: The Day Before My First Marathon | From Dancing to Running

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