Neon compression socks, vats of energy drinks, running-themed Christmas ornaments and a photo booth were among the available pit stops today at the Health and Fitness Expo at the Sacramento Convention Center.
The event, which started Friday and ends at 5 p.m. today, gives runners and their families a chance to shake off anxiety before Sunday’s California International Marathon- and maybe do some holiday shopping.
The origin of the expo is operational - runners need to show up there to pick up information packets and numbered bibs for the big race. But over time, the event has become increasingly festive, with more and more booths and activities every year, said Cynci Calvin, board member for the Sacramento Running Association, which oversees the CIM.
The expo draws about 20,000 people throughout the weekend - more than double the 9,000 registered to run the full marathon. It’s great exposure for the exhibitors, said Calvin, who pay upwards of $800 for a table where they offer wares and services for the health and fitness minded.
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“You couldn’t find a more targeted group of people,” she said.
Additions this year included a recreational play space, a social media center and a board with every runner’s name on it, where people packed in to find their names and take pictures. The UC Davis Children’s Hospital provided speakers on the main stage.
“There’s lots of energy here,” said Ellen Moore, the running association’s expo coordinator. “You have an opportunity to mingle with runners and professionals. It’s a community event.”
Michelle Thomas, a three-time Iron Man triathlon finisher who traveled from Southern California to cheer on her dad in Sunday’s race, was testing out a Recovery Pump muscle machine at today’s expo. The device, which pumps up air around the wearer’s legs, is intended to compress muscles to reduce soreness.
“It’s like a massage,” Thomas said. “I don’t ever want to get up.”
For Criselda and Michael Cooper, a Cameron Park couple about to run their first marathon, seeing their names on the board marked the end of a long journey. Criselda has had knee problems, she said, and Michael just came down with a cold - not to mention the difficulty of training with two small children at home.
“It’s been a struggle, it’s been tough,” said Michael.
“To me it’s an accomplishment,” said Criselda. “We’re really doing it.”
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