This past Saturday I made my way into the city of Boston to attend the B.A.A. Boston Marathon John Hancock (can they make the name any longer) Expo. My job was to work at the PowerBar Booth from 8:30-6:30. While that shift is plenty too long, I took a bit of a surprising experience away from the Expo. I'd like to take the time here to share my thoughts on the things I learned while working the booth this weekend and also in my wandering around the expo on the limited breaks I got from work.
First of all, while most of the world thinks of the B.A.A. as the Boston Athletic Association, I'll forever think of it as the sound sheep make. That's exactly how I viewed this crowded expo from start to finish. Thousands of sheep (runners) herding themselves in circles while the grazed the land of "Free." My job during the expo was to break up PowerBar Pure and Simple Energy Bars into bite sized pieces. I'd place the pieces down on a tray for runners to snag a sample as they walked by. What I observed could only be best described with the following: Ever sit in a McDonald's parking lot and drop a fry out of your car window for the seagulls to have at? When the fry lands, they swoop in and fight over the pieces. The seagull that gets the piece, snags it fast and flies away in a method which makes it look like they don't have it. Yup.. totally what it was like putting granola chunks out for the runners. They'd swoop in, snag it as if they were stealing something, and then walk away fast so no one saw them take the "free samples."
But thats not all. I felt like everyone is looking for something for nothing at these expos. Next to me was a display cooler filled with bottles of Ironman Drink. The lid on the cooler was taped shut. I cannot tell yo how many times people asked me if the drinks were free? In fact.. I was asked quite a few times if various things were free.. that were not free. Everyone wants something for free. I could not believe that this group of people could be so obsessed with "The Free Stuff." I was dumb founded. But beyond that, I couldn't believe how cued into the minutia many of these runners actually are. For instance, they walk up to our tray of energy bars and ask.. "When are these for? Before the race, during or after?" "Ummm... Sir.. you should be eating calories before, during AND after the race. My answer is, all of the above."
As I walked around the expo, and even through working at the PowerBar booth; the main thing that surprised me the most is the number of people working at the booths aren't actually runners. In fact, 95% of those working the expo and giving you information about the products at each companies booth... aren't even athletes at all. They work for local advertising and marketing agencies that provide the running companies with bodies to push product. AMAZING!
I can't say that the expo was a total waste of my time however. I was able to purchase a pair of Zesah Compression socks which have all ready started helping me rehab my shin. I met Marshall Ulrich who was humbly promoting his book about his record setting run across America and I got to show Scott Jurek which train to get on so he could make it to Logan Airport on Time.
Bottom line is.. my desire to NEVER run Boston was only amplified this weekend. Nothing about that race intrigues me in the least. I'm all set. Baaaaaaa