Monday, May 6, 2013

Cincinnati review part 1 - The expo

The Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon weekend was so massive it's going to get four posts, for the expo, the Saturday events, the Sunday race, and the swag because I got a ton!!!!

It's a huge series of five races with 33,000+ participants this year. The expo was at the Duke Energy Center and the organization left plenty to be desired. You could enter the hall anywhere, but the numbers and shirts were on opposite sides with the vendors in between. If you had been forced to enter at the number area, that would be ok, but I entered in the middle and wound up walking through 3 or 4 times trying to find what I needed.

By the time I found the numbers, Mr. Clean was waiting for me. Proctor and Gamble was the major sponsor of the race and they were great, except for running out of free samples!!! I got there at 5:30 so it's not like I arrived last minute, but everything was gone.

The number pick up was easy. It was separated by race categories and the 3-way and 4-way participants had a separate line with all three numbers together. Each was in an envelope with instructions, which was really nice. The problem was that the shirts were on the opposite side of the gym. It would have made so much more sense to get ONE bag with all my numbers and shirts pre-packaged. Once I finally got to the shirt pick up area, I had to wait in three separate lines because I got shirts for the 5k, 10k and marathon. Then a separate line for my cooler, which was supposed to be a tote bag, and yet another line for my poster. It was a perfect example of "hurry up and wait."

This was the first year for the 3-way and 4-way challenges and none of the participants knew what we were getting. The organizers said we would get all the 5k, 10k and marathon stuff, plus something extra. At one point they said it was a "really cool shirt," but that was months ago and nothing else had been said. I asked at the help desk to see if there was something I needed to pick up at the expo, but no one at the help area knew what I meant, and I probably asked 10-12 official volunteers.

 On the way out, I stopped at an information booth. I didn't know if it was race information or city information. It was both, and thankfully the man there knew what the 4-way event was, and said I would get my extra stuff after the marathon.

They really made a big to-do of the Flying Pig theme and that was fun! I made a point of taking a picture of every little piggie I saw.

I'm not normally one for buying things at the expo, especially not commemorative items, but they had pint glasses and I already have one from the Free Press, and I wanted another, even though I'll never use it. Besides, it was cheap :) I also picked up a small pin with the flying pig on it for my backpack. I have a pin on the front pocket of my backpack, from every place I've visited with it. This was the first time I've seen a pin at a race, so that was nice.

Overall I'd give the expo 3 points out of 10. I don't enjoy expos and I'd gladly pay any race $10 to mail me my stuff and save me the trip and hassle. This one seemed particularly disorganized with having to run back and forth, waiting in multiple lines, and no one at the help desk knowing what was going on.  Fortunately the expo was the worst part of the weekend and it wasn't altogether wretched. I mean, I did get to see the piggies!!!! 

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