Making the Most of the Boston Marathon Expo

Originally published by Pepper in 2013.

After 7 Boston marathons I have my preferred way to attack Boston and the whole Boston marathon weekend. Boston marathon weekend, more than most, can take a huge toll on the pocket book. Add in the expo and your credit cards may be weeping in a week’s time. Clove has previously offered up some great advice for saving money at any marathon expo. I’m here today to share my Boston expo shopping experiences, the best way to get in and out of the Boston marathon expo while achieving all your expo goals, what purchases I’d make again, which ones I’d avoid!

The Boston expo is insane! If you don’t time things right you could find yourself in the Adidas expo digging through piles of discarded clothes on the floor looking for your size. Seriously, people turn into animals at this expo! My advice is to get there first thing in the morning on any expo day. There may be a bit of a line for your bib and packet pick up, but it is nothing compared to what will happen in a few hours, trust me. If you choose to wait and get to the expo when it is in full force be prepared to wade through a sea of other people. One year I truly felt like a fish trying to move upstream, it was miserable! All for a gel and a Spi Belt, not worth it!

If you have your own office and decorating freedom, enough Bostons can turn into a wall of Boston!
If you have your own office and decorating freedom, enough Bostons can turn into a wall of Boston!

Once you get there, don’t forget about your freebies! You get a great wicking long sleeve (thankfully Boston upped the ante after my first two years when they were still handing out cotton long sleeves). Also, be sure to check the Adidas booths for your free poster with every racer’s name on it. Really and truly, if you don’t have the money to spare these two items will be enough, I promise!

Adidas is the main sponsor and they are going to have just about every form of gear possible with the marathon logo on it. If you get there early you can avoid the 45 minute lines to purchase your items and hopefully get into a changing room, smaller items go incredibly fast so if you know what you want get to the Adidas booth and grab it quickly.

For most getting a Boston jacket is high on their to-do list. My first Boston I was unaware that there are really two Boston Marathon jackets. There is the official BAA jacket, and there is the official Adidas sponsor jacket. Trust me these are not the same! I thought I really wanted the official jacket, but turns out, the Adidas jacket was more my style, in all of the insanity I purchased both. I rarely wear the official BAA Boston jacket, it wasn’t designed well and the sleeves are too short even for my petite frame, it’s bulky, and just not very cool. Don’t make my mistake! You don’t need two jackets to commemorate your run. If this isn’t your first go around and, like me, the number of Boston jackets is getting out of control, consider one of the soft Adidas track jackets for a change of pace, or get a hoodie if they are cool this year. (Note: the last few years the women’s hoodies were fitted. If you like your hoodie fitted check them out, if you like them comfy hurry to the men’s section and find the smallest one you can!)

Rocking my Boston Hoodies and Nike Boston Tee out and about! Speaking of, has anyone seen my dark blue hoodie? This post has me realizing it may be lost in Michigan somewhere...
Rocking my Boston Hoodies and Nike Boston Tee out and about! Speaking of, has anyone seen my dark blue hoodie? This post has me realizing it may be lost in Michigan somewhere…

In past years I’ve bought the Adidas backpack, the flip flops, the sports bra, the capris, hoodies, an aluminum water bottle, a beer glass, a stuffed unicorn, shorts, and a fitted sport tank. Best purchases: The backpack (seriously this thing is great and I have been using it since 2006), hoodies, and the beer glass. Worst: capris from 2010, fitted tank from 2005, and the flip flops. Not going to lie, other than the jackets, the quality on the other clothing is really hit or miss. If there is any doubt at the expo, leave it. The gear is not cheap and unless you are going to use it, it isn’t worth it. If it was meant to be, you will find it in an Adidas outlet in a few months for half the price!

While Adidas is the main sponsor and they are most likely going to have the best Boston logo gear, check out the other shops. Nike has been hit or miss for me, but occasionally they have a great shirt. I also got a nice wicking t-shirt from Brooks one year. One year I was so sure I would have a great race that I even pre purchased one of those crazy photo/medal plaques. Needless to say the race did not go as planned, and thankfully I was able to cancel the purchase! Maybe do yourself a favor and don’t jinx your race in the same way I did!

Expo Photo Fun! Check out my friend BW rocking the Dark Blue hoodie upper right!
Expo Photo Fun! Check out my friend BW rocking the Dark Blue hoodie upper right!

Once you have your goodies, if you haven’t been on your feet too long, it is always fun to find out what fun interactive items are going on for the year. In years past they have had photo opportunities, walls to sign, posters of past races, displays of previous years jackets, etc. It’s a great way to soak in the atmosphere while having a bit of fun. If you are lucky and you timed your visit well you may even get to rub shoulders with an elite if they are speaking or signing autographs! If you have never done Boston and they are offering a video of the course, go get off your feet and watch. It will get you pumped up and help you visualize the race!

Good luck to all you Salty Readers on Marathon Monday! I hope you enjoy the city of Boston as much as I do and that you find time to party like a rock star while racing to your best potential on Monday. If you have any additional Boston Marathon Expo tips, please share here! Here’s hoping you do minimal damage to your pocket book while coming away with some nice gear to commemorate this years Boston Marathon!

Have you dropped cash at the Boston expo? Tell us what you bought? If you haven’t been there (yet!) what would you buy?

Sal is a 4 year old 77 hour trail marathoner looking to whittle a few minutes off next time. Being a gastropod, Sal is neither male nor female but will accept either set of pronouns. Sal's spirit animal is the cheetah and Sal's mantra is, "What's slow to some is fast for others." Sal writes about Salty Running news.

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1 comment

  1. My advice is, don’t bring your kids to the expo. 2 hats, 2 unicorn stuffed animals, 2 sets of snacks, and whatever else they grabbed and I had to pay for…. it was like $400 in 5 minutes. Leave the greedy small people at home. And I agree on the official jackets… they aren’t really good for anything other than proving you did the Boston Marathon. And you can find them half price a month from now so I would wait.