Nothing gives a runner that kid-in-a-candy-store feeling quite like a big race expo, and the one for the New York City Marathon is perhaps the best example of this. It claims to be the largest running expo in the country and one of the largest health and fitness exhibitions shows in the world.
We stopped by the Javits Center on the expo’s opening day to check out the goods, and even if you’re not racing, it’s worth a visit. Here’s what stood out.
Official Race Merchandise
After going through packet pickup, the first thing you hit in the expo is the New Balance store—it’s row after row of official TCS New York City Marathon apparel and gear. Every race has limited-edition, branded products, but this collection deserves a shout out. In a word, it’s sharp. In its second year as the marathon’s apparel brand partner, New Balance went for a high-end look, leaning on copper accents to take the designs up a notch from official merch of past years.
Add that to the prominent use of mint in this year’s apparel, and the whole compilation is a sleek and subtle nod to one of the city’s most iconic attractions: the Statue of Liberty. There’s no shortage of chic looks in both the active and casual lines, featuring fashionable colors like the aforementioned mint and copper, as well as a rose pink, charcoal gray and, of course, a lot of black. (This is New York, after all.)
Shoes. So Many Shoes.
If you haven’t dropped all your money on official merch (it’s pricey), you’ll find a massive floor of vendors ready to take your money. The most prominent product? Running shoes. There’s wider shoe selection at the expo than you’ll find at most (if not all) running retailers throughout the city, and many brands have limited-edition, NYC marathon-themed shoes on display. The biggest booths are larger than some local running stores, and you’ll find the biggest displays from Skechers, Hoka One One, On-Running, Newton, Altra and, of course, New Balance. Powerhouse brands like Nike, Asics, Brooks, Saucony and Adidas don’t have their own booths, but you can find a variety of shoe brands at general running retailers with displays at the expo.
One of the most interesting shoes on the floor is the Salomon Predict RA, which debuted on the expo’s opening day. The Predict’s upper is actually fabricated at a bra factory, which you can tell in the way it supports and lightly hugs your foot. The comfortable-yet-sturdy shoe seems like a good fit for moderately long runs and is worth a test jog around the floor. And if you’re thinking ahead to the aftermath of Sunday, many of the retailers have recovery sandals for sale. The Hoka One One and Oofos slides are especially plush.
Tools for Self-Care
You can give your muscles a little pre-race love at any one of the dozen booths hawking recovery products like TheraGun, Normatec, Air Relax and Trigger Point. The two recovery tools that stood out are the Addaday Magic and BFF Pro. They’re both portable massagers you can use on the muscles runners stress the most, though you do need access to an outlet to fire them up. Even though the expo floor is very crowded, most of the booths selling recovery tools have several test models available. You shouldn’t have to wait too long (if at all) to use the massagers or compression boots.
There’s another product in the self-care category that the roughly 21,000 women running the marathon may find interesting: the Hello Cup. The New Zealand-based company has a booth where runners can learn about using menstrual cups as a sustainable alternative to disposable feminine hygiene products. For the marathon expo, the company is selling limited-edition purple Hello Cups in partnership with 261 Fearless, the global running network founded by Boston Marathon legend Kathrine Switzer. (Switzer will be at the booth Saturday.) Hello Cup is worth a visit for any woman who has experienced the frustrating combination of running and menstruating—there’s even a registered nurse at the booth to answer all your questions.
The Wall of Inspiration
While there are dozens more cool products you’ll find at the expo, the last thing we’ll highlight is something you can’t buy: warm, fuzzy feelings. On a large wall near the front of the expo, just past the New Balance shop, there’s a wall where runners can take and leave inspirational notes for other marathoners. It’s a wonderful reminder of the community you’ll have around you as you take on 26.2 miles of New York’s streets, as well as a nice opportunity to make someone smile amid the nervous energy coursing through the expo hall. Even if you’re trying to get through the expo quickly, take a minute to give and receive some good vibes before the big day.