Navigating the Boston Marathon Expo + Do’s & Don’t’s

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Don’t stress the heck out at the Boston Marathon expo. I shared what I learned as a first-timer.

It’s hard to believe the Boston Marathon was only a week ago! It already seems like so long ago! I started to write a Boston Marathon weekend recap but it got really long, really fast, so I’m breaking this up into a few posts – the expo, the day before the race, pre-race fueling in Boston (without a kitchen!) and then race day.

In the days leading up to to the race, I had SO many questions since it was my first Boston Marathon and I couldn’t find all the nitty gritty details I wanted, so I hope these posts can help someone else in the future. (I found one post that explained how long everything took on race morning that was really valuable! A nervous runner likes details. Or at least I do. 😉 )

I also had some amazing tips from friends who’ve run Boston, as well as tips blog readers and Boston locals, and I want to pass that information along.

First up! Let’s talk about the Boston Marathon expo!


Boston-Marathon-expocoat | jeans | similar booties

I found it hard to balance enjoying the expo and soaking in the experience, without it draining my energy, physically and mentally. So many people told me to not spend too much time there since I shouldn’t be on my feet too much. But, I think I let that get in the way too much of enjoying the experience!

Tommy and my mom will both tell you that I was really stressed out and probably not very fun to be around. Oops. I think since this was my first Boston Marathon I was especially anxious about getting in and out, and next time I would be able to enjoy it a bit more.

Getting to the Boston Marathon Expo

We arrived in Boston on Saturday and after checking into the hotel and going to Whole Foods for some groceries, we met up with my mom who had flown in from Utah the day before. On Saturday afternoon, she took a race bus tour to see the course and LOVED it. (The tour was run by Marathon Tours, whom we used to book our hotel – I highly recommend.) It was SO fun to see her and also a little surreal to be meeting up in Boston.

All three of us then headed to the Boston Marathon expo, which was held at the Seaport World Trade Center in 2018. (Normally it’s closer to the race finish line in Back Bay but the usual location was booked by some other conference this year.)

In better weather, we probably would have walked there since it was only about a 30 minute walk from our hotel. But it was FREEZING, rainy and WINDY so we took an Uber instead.

Arriving at the Expo & Getting Your Bib

The expo was extremely well organized. As you walked up, you were directed to different rooms depending on your bib number. There was only one person in front of me so I didn’t have to wait long to get my bib. After getting your bib, you head into the main expo area and that’s where you get your shirt and race gear bag.

After getting my gear bag, we headed straight to the main Adidas shopping section where you can buy the famed celebration jacket. It is tempting to buy everything. 🙂 I bought the celebration jacket, a hoodie and a coffee mug.

I won’t lie, I wish I’d also bought this hat and these shoes (especially since I ran the marathon in Adidas Bostons, my favorite shoe! Read my review here.)

How much time to spend

My mom wanted to walk around the expo some more, so I sat down and watched the Boston Marathon course video. They had some bleachers set up in front of a large movie screen and it was perfect for me to get off my feet while she explored. I definitely teared up watching the course preview!

We took a quick picture as we left the expo and then called an Uber. (I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture with my mom at the expo because I was so anxious to leave!) Unfortunately, it was hard to find our Uber even though we were in a designated area and it was REALLY cold at this point.

We had to walk a bit to get to a hotel where we knew an Uber would be able to find us. I was stressed, cold, hungry and grumpy – not a good combo!

Boston-Marathon-expoTommy’s coat & jeans | my coat + lipstick in Backstage

I think the weather combined with my general race nerves put a bit of a damper on my expo experience. That, and my super uptightness. Next time I’ll hopefully feel better about the whole thing. And hopefully these tips help you not feel super stressed out like I was. And maybe a little pre-expo wine would help things as well.

Boston Marathon Expo Tips


  • Double check the expo address in your Uber/Lyft. Be sure you’re choosing the right option or just enter in the exact address. Lots of Seaport areas popped up in Uber and it turns out I entered the wrong location. Our driver took us to a place around the block. Then he couldn’t get back to the expo entrance because of traffic patterns, so we had to walk a bit. My bad.
  • Bring your ID and runner passport that you received in the mail. (If you lose that passport, you can still get your bib but it will take longer.)
  • Keep the bag that you get with your shirt. It’s what you use for the gear check and it HAS to be that bag. You can’t drop any ol’ bag at gear check. Your bib packet has a gear check sticker with your bib # that goes on the bag.
  • Watch the course preview video. They had a large screen set up to watch a video of the course with tips along the way. It was very calming to see where I’d be running!
  • Try on the celebration jacket before you buy. I found that it ran small.
  • Take a snack to the expo. I get really neurotic about fueling in the days before the marathon, got very hungry at the expo, didn’t have anything with me and got very grumpy. Even though there are lots of freebies at the expo, I didn’t want to eat anything new that close to race day.
  • Take every photo opp possible. 🙂 There were a few spots with backgrounds set up for pictures, but I didn’t want to stand in line since there were about 20-50 people waiting to take pictures. But, I should have waited in line and really soaked up the full experience, especially since the weather was so bad on race day and we didn’t get many photos with of the three of us. We got this one photo at the Adidas photobooth, but the quality is pretty crappy. Take your own photos on your phone!


  • Don’t stay too long. I LOVE a good expo but I started to get antsy after about 1.5 hours there, worried I was on my feet too much on concrete floors. It’s hard because I wanted to soak everything in but it started to drain me mentally. And energy conservation is important!
  • Don’t feel like you have buy all the Boston Marathon gear at the expo. There are other stores in Boston with cuter tanks and t-shirts. I particularly like the tanks from Heartbreak Hill Running Company.
  • Don’t forget to look at the seminar schedule when deciding when to go to the expo. They had guest speakers that I would have loved to hear. Amby Burfoot, Deena Kastor and Jordan Hassay – but I missed that information until it was too late.
  • Don’t feel like you have to see everything. There will always be another year!

Boston Marathon expo

If you’ve been to the Boston Marathon expo before, what tips would you give a first-timer?


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    2 responses to “Navigating the Boston Marathon Expo + Do’s & Don’t’s”

    1. They do have the course preview movie there each year! Depending upon where you are staying and the proximity of the expo, we did go to the expo on two separate days, so you could always split your time if you didn’t get to see everything the first time. We went back a second time because Kara and Shalane were signing autographs! But I’m like you and get concerned about spending too much time on my feet the days before a marathon. I spent WAY too much time on my feet the day before in Boston (partly because my family wanted to see EVERYTHING and partly because I wasn’t concerned about my time the next day), but I was cranky by the end of the day!!

      • That’s a great idea to split the expo into two trips! We thought we’d do that but the weather was SO awful we didn’t want to venture out again and our uber was so dang expensive getting there the first time!

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