Wednesday, May 04, 2011

A Different Kind of Race Expo

The Frederick Half Marathon is experimenting with a different kind of system for packet pick up this year. Instead of the traditional race expo the day before the race, runners can pick up their bibs and time chips all week long at a bunch of different running stores throughout the D.C./Baltimore areas.

The race is also offering packet pickup the morning of the race to select group of people who signed up in advance. (I think the website site only about 200 people could do this option.)

What I Love About This Idea:
I love the fact that I don't have to drive all the way up to Frederick twice (once for the expo, once for the race) like I did last year. Frederick isn't really close to me, but it's not far enough away to warrant a hotel stay, so driving up and back twice last year made for a long weekend.

What I Didn't Love:
What I didn't love is that none of the early pick up locations were remotely convenient for me. The closest option was at least a half hour drive away and since packet pick up only ran from noon until 6 p.m. there was no real way for me to get to any of the stores on my lunch break or after work.

Lucky for me I have three great friends who all offered to pick up my packet at locations closer to them.

After the race runners will pick up their shirts and be able to browse through vendors like at a more traditional expo.

What the Race Could Do To Improve:
While I absolutely love the idea of remote packet pickup, I wish the time slots were a little bit wider. Rush hour traffic around here is a beast and having pick up only available until 6 p.m. doesn't really present a realistic chance for people to get their packets after work.

If the race does this again next year, I'd definitely recommend they keep packet pick up open until at least 8 p.m. That gives people a chance to leave their offices, sit in rush hour and make it to the running store before pick up is over.

I'm super grateful to all the people who offered to pick up my bib and time chip for me so I didn't have to stress out about leaving work early and trying to battle rush hour.

Have any races you've run done packet pick up in advance like this? Did it work for you?

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