The Guide to Boston Marathon (5): Before the Race Day



This is by far one of the biggest marathon expo I had ever been to.  It’s probably four times the size than the biggest one I had attended and the crowd was probably twenty times larger!   It’s also the first one for me to go through security checks at the entrance of the building before entering a race expo.  Few runners warned me beforehand to just go in and out immediately after retrieving my bib and race packet.  The expo is so enticing that one would stay there for hours and hours without realizing the next day their legs would end up so exhausted from all the standing and walking.

I am grateful that I arrived at the Expo on Saturday and so I had at least a day to rest up on Sunday before the race.  I mean this is a life-time experience and it’d be pity for me to miss-out completely.  I decided just to walk the parameter of the expo and would only venture into the core if I saw something that interests me.  At the end, even with this strategy, my family and I stayed there for at least 2 hours.


Yes, I realize everyone, including myself, has this strong urge to buy the Boston Marathon jacket (~$110).  You could save all the line ups and weaving in & out of the crowd by buying them online.  The disadvantage of which is of course you don’t get to try and feel it and also the lack of seeing other products.

Most people buy their Boston Marathon Apparels at either the EXPO or at the Marathon store just located across the expo.  Both are situated on the Boylston Street. In my opinion, the line up at the expo was long and the store had virtually no line up.  What most people don’t realize is that these apparels can also be found in most athletic stores in Boston Downtown at the same price and with virtually no one inside.  Even better, I saw great deals at the running warehouse on-line store!

At the end of the day, it’s your personal choice what you plan to do and buy.  I didn’t get the jacket because the trip itself cost me already an arm and a leg but I did purchase a 2015 Boston Marathon Cap ($20) as a souvenir to bring home.

There were definitely some great deals at the expo.  However, just remember the adage that never try something new on race day!  One of the booths that drew my attention was the Timex where they displayed their newest GPS watch with email/texting functions without connecting to any smartphone. They were offering a very nice discounted price of less than $100 than what I would pay here in Vancouver.  Owing to the lack of prior research on this product,  I decided to walk away and forget about it.

Also at the expo, if the timing is right you might see some of your favourite running book authors doing book signing and elite runners talking to their fans.  Please see schedule ahead of time if you do plan to find someone to meet for autographs.

Picking up your race packet/bib

If you decide not to do any shopping, you could take the escalator to the 3rd floor.  Once in there, you’ll see numerous volunteers distributing your race packet according to your bib#.  The process was smooth and took less than 3 minutes. Unlike some marathons I attended, the chip/sensor on the Boston Marathon bib did not require any activation.

Once you’ve received your race packet, you should head into the big conference room to pick up your shirt.

This is also where you will purchase additional tickets if you plan to bring a friend or family member to the pre-race pasta dinner ($20/person) and/or the post-race party.


Every runner will receive a free coupon in their runner’s passport for the pre-race dinner on the night before the marathon.  See above for additional tickets.

There were two lines to get into the building at the City Hall Plaza.  One was short and the other was tremendously long. If you wish to save time, REMEMBER DO NOT bring any bags/luggage/backpack/small purse/stroller/diaper bag  into the pre-race dinner; otherwise, you’ll need to go through the super long line up and subject to a security search.  So how bad was it?  My family and I lined up at about 5pm on an evening that was extremely windy and chilly.  To make matter worse, my little guy of 2yo lacks the patience to stand still and would run away from the line in several occasions. You can actually find me in the above picture  (hint: stroller).  We finally got seated at 630pm and left at 730pm.


I’d say the event was a great experience but I’d likely never do it again.   The best part was the chance to meet up with different runners at the table.  However, I’d prefer to stay home/hotel next time for a more quiet rest time and probably enjoy a dinner more of my preference. Special thanks and kudos to all the volunteers putting up a great show!

Please continue reading Part 6

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