Let me preface this recap by saying I did not get a lot of sleep the night before. I had used Disney's Magical Express to get to my resort, and though it is a service I typically love, my bag did not arrive to me until a few minutes shy of 3am . Bags are supposed to take up to three hours after check in to get to your room. Mine took well over four, because their system showed I checked in two hours after I actually did. That, coupled with my internal body clock waking me up much earlier than I wanted, meant I only got a few hours of sleep and wasn't overly thrilled about doing anything but laying around. I wasn't the cheeriest of people on Friday morning.
In several trips to Walt Disney World, this has only been my second time at this complex. The first time was last year. The complex is only open when an event is going on, so Disney buses are not normally running to it. You would either need event transportation, or your own method of getting there. And though I have been in there a couple times, I have only seen the inside of the same two buildings.
First stop? Packet pick up.
There was a streaming line of people going in the door. They kept it running efficiently, with only one way in and one way out. This prevented any human traffic jams. Half marathon and 5K packet pick ups were separated. I quickly got in the line for my packet.
My bib number was 12244, so this is where I stood. The lines moved slowly. I can partly attribute this to the fact that there are thousands more runners than the 5K. That was the line I waited in last year, and I had no one to wait behind then. When I finally got to the front, I was quite literally handed a packet. It was a large white envelope that had few contents in it. The gentlemen then explained it contained my after party information. He then handed me my bib and informed me that I needed to get my B-tag verified to make sure it would properly track me as I ran through the course. I could then go to the expo to pick up my bag which would contain my event shirt. This was a bit different than last year for my 5K, as everything was handed to me all at once. Aside from getting my bib, the bag was what I was excited about. Last year, the bag contained a couple product samples as well as discount cards to use at a couple vendors.
I took the obligatory "I got my bib!" picture, checked my B-tag, and headed to the expo.
If I thought packet pick-up was busy, the expo itself was far busier. Crowds of people gathered at each vendor booth. I quickly headed to the very back of the expo, where the runner bags were waiting to be picked up. To be honest, it was disappointing. My shirt was in the bag, as well as the program for the expo. But that was it. Gone were the samples and the discount cards. It was the bare minimum. Suddenly, I found myself thankful that I used a coupon code back in October for the iFitness belt I had been wanting. I had read reports that there had been an iFitness discount card in the runner bags, and I am glad I did not listen to such reports.
Even the expo was a bit disappointing. Last year there were a ton of giveaways, freebies, and samples. This year it was limited. And it wasn't as if I went late in the day. I was there within the first hour of it being open. Last year I got all kinds of goodies...a couple water bottles, a ton of fruit, yogurt, pens, and on and on. I quite literally had a very full bag. This year, I got a yogurt, sampled a shot's worth of brewed chocolate (like hot chocolate, but brewed like coffee), sampled a couple cubes of cheese, and got a pen. That was it. I don't know if vendors were being selective in what or who they were giving away things to due to limited quanties, or if they simply weren't giving out anything. Not that I was there solely for free stuff, but I tend to be more likely to purchase items if I first get to try it. This is not a mark against vendor who sell products such as shirts, belts, and the like. But other vendors should take this into consideration...especially ones who want your personal info. Sorry car insurance vendors, you are not getting my info if you aren't going to give anything in return but spam (for this reason, I only give out my "junk" email address so nothing is sent to my regular one).
I did make a stop at the Lasting Commemoratives booth to pick up a poster. I had a voucher that entitled me to a free one, and I was excited about that.
I had intended on listening in on a Jeff Galloway talk where he would be discussing race day nutrition, but wound up missing it because I had spent so long in packet pick-up. Fortunately, I remembered most of his tips from the year before, and had been researching it on my own. I did, however, manage to snag a picture of him.
After a bit more glancing around, I finally just went back to my room. I still relatively enjoyed the expo, just not to the extent of the previous year. I do hope this isn't a continuing trend.
Remember how I just mentioned earlier in this post how my bag was full after last year's expo? Here is what it looked like this year...
This had my shirt, program, packet, poster, a pen, and a couple flyers. Pretty paltry.
My packet contents did make me smile. Inside was the final race instructions, the after party guide, my wristband to get into the after party, and a gift card valued at $10.
And, ultimately, the freebies and giveaways weren't why I had traveled all that way to Florida. There was only one reason why I was there, and I had picked it up before even walking into the expo....