Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Shamrock Marathon Weekend: Expo Recap

On Friday, March 14 at 1 pm we started the long trek from Shippensburg, PA to Virginia Beach, VA for Shamrock Marathon Weekend. This drive should have taken about 5 hours. Thanks to some wonderful Friday afternoon DC traffic, we finally got to the expo- tired and famished- around 7:45 pm. Luckily it was open until 9 pm so we had just over an hour to pick up our bibs and check out all the vendors.

We finally made it!
Bib and shirt pick up were a breeze. There were no lines and I was easily able to pick up my friend Kelly's packet thanks to a handy-dandy packet authorization form that the race organizers put on their website. Since Matthew and I were doing the Dolphin Challenge (8k plus the half marathon), we needed to pick up our 8k bib AND our half marathon bib. Unlike Disney, we didn't have to wear the same bib for more than one race. Which is awesome because I tend to be hard on my bibs.

All our bibs for the weekend. We have cute feet :-)

The expo was held in the Virginia Beach Convention Center and it was perfect for this type of event. We were in one large room divided into two areas- one for packet pick-up and one for vendors and official merchandise.

After getting our essentials (which included the bibs, two shirts, and a Shamrock official drawstring bag), we went to check out all the vendors. Lots of my favorites were here and surprisingly, there were a ton of other races all with great discounts. Matthew and I made sure to collect all the info we could- one of our goals for this year was to try new races. We chatted with the folks putting on Storm The Beach- a five mile obstacle race that we'll be completing this year on our Outer Banks family vacation. We also got some information on the Divas Half Marathon Series (Leesburg, VA) and the Runner's World Half Festival (Bethlehem, PA). Both of these races are a possibility this year- yay! :-)

Ooooh... can't wait to add this to the collection!

This one has Sparkly Runner written all over it, right?!?

We'd love to do the Hat Trick- 5k, 10k, and half in the same weekend!
We also learned about the coolest race ever- Sparkle Me Wild 5k- that happens throughout Virginia and North Carolina at different times of the year. As the race director put it- "It's a color run... with glitter!" This race is absolutely going on my bucket list!

I mean, my blog is Sparkly Runner, so that means this is a MUST, right?

I stopped by the BeeCause shoe charm booth to purchase a 5k charm for my friend Jen who just completed her first 5k a few weeks ago. I also picked up a little "48.6" shoe charm to commemorate my Dopey accomplishment.

We visited the Nuun Hydration table and got try lots of flavors of nuun- they had about 10 for everyone to sample. Then we got in line for ID check. At the end of each race, they give you four (4!!!!!) Yuengling beers in the party tent so we needed to get a wristband at the expo so we wouldn't need to worry about showing ID after running an 8k or half marathon.

Lemon-lime was pretty awesome.

The ID check for beer was under the rainbow. Cute. 

Matthew also got a pair of Superfeet- these are inserts that help with stability and arch support for athletes. I've been encouraging him to try these out as he's been a little unsuccessful in finding a new pair of running shoes that will give him the arch support he needs. The guys at the booth were very helpful and he ended up buying a pair of the blue inserts for 20% off. Yay for expo deals!

Helpful folks at the Superfeet booth.

At this point, we'd been there almost an hour and were getting pretty tired. We still had to drive to our hotel (about 20 minutes away), get settled, and then be up and ready for the 7:45 am start time of the 8k the next day. However, I saw a booth that I just couldn't pass up- Gypsy Runner.

Look at all the colors! How could I just walk by?!?!

This booth had some really cool arm sleeves. I had brought down a pink pair and a black pair but I saw a tie-dyed pair that I just HAD to have. So for just $17, those bad boys were mine! There will be pictures later, I promise :-)

On the way out, we also were able to see the Shamrock medals up close- holy cow! The half marathon medal was a big as my Disney Marathon medal! Seeing them really just got us so excited for this race weekend- even more than we already were. Overall, this expo was really fun! No crowds, very few lines, lots of organization- even with an estimated 28,000 people participating in the weekend's races, it felt really laid back and enjoyable. And there were plenty of vendors and lots of deals- all in all, a great experience.

And there were things like this to get us in the St. Patrick's Day mood :-) 

We left the expo and headed to our hotel. Unlike many other Shamrockers, we chose to stay a little farther from the oceanfront. Mainly because of cost- our Holiday Inn cost $89 a night and included round-trip shuttle service to and from the race on Sunday, free breakfast for runners on Sunday morning starting at 4:30 am, and a late check-out of 3 pm. Had we stayed oceanfront, we would have paid somewhere between $150-200 a night and wouldn't have had all those perks. Once we checked in Friday night, I was confident we'd made the right choice. Our room was beautiful and it only took us about 20 minutes to get to the beach.

After laying out all our stuff for the morning race, we finally went to bed around 10 pm. The 8k was waiting for us- as was a 5 am wake up call- so we were thankful to get some rest. Stay tuned- 8k recap (and expo part 2) coming soon!

Outfit (minus rainbow socks and headband) ready for the 8k!


  1. Aren't the J & A race expos awesome? It sounds like you had a blast and got in some good shopping too! I am running a Divas race next month in Myrtle Beach with a bunch of girls from my running group. Can't wait for all the pink, sparkles, bubbly and that medal!

    1. I am really considering Divas in DC this September! I just can't resist the bling :-)

  2. Sounds like fun! That area seems to have a lot of fun events!

    1. It was definitely one of the better expos I've been to- and yes, lots of cool new races! :-)