Monday, February 9, 2015

"The Expo", Osaka Marathon 2014

If you're interested in finding out about how this race came about, you can check out my previous blog post. This one will be about the Expo.

We arrived in Osaka from Fukuoka the morning of the last day of the expo, it was a Saturday, October 25th, 2014. We made it to our hotel around 11:00AM and unfortunately not able to check into our room yet. We left our luggage with the hotel and we decided to split up, I had planned to about 4 hours total for the expo, it was about a 30 minute train ride away from where we were staying. I wanted my husband and my son to enjoy the city and I also didn't want to be rushed through the expo, as it was my first race in Japan and I didn't know what to expect.

I talked to the concierge to find out exactly what train to take, where to switch trains and how to walk to the INTEX building. I love the subway system in Japan, it is the fastest and easiest way to get around, so that part was easy, but I was concerned about how to get from the train station to the INTEX building. The concierge told me to just follow the sea of people, I was going there the last day in the afternoon, I figured that most had already picked up their packets by the time I got there, so I was still skeptical.

Boy was she right and I wrong, it was literally a sea of people, the trains stop was the very last one of this train line, it was out in the boonies, in the same area as Universal Studios. Needless to say, it was no problem fining the place, and the very first thing I saw when I was approaching the building was the FINISH LINE! That was it, tomorrow at about the same time I was going to cross it no matter what.

The expo started out with picking up your bib and your race shirt, I had ordered a special charity t-shirt as well. For international racers we were required to bring a passport or two pieces of ID, they were very specific about that kind of ID's were needed. After I picked those up along with the race bag and the english version of the Osaka Marathon Guide, I headed to the next room where they only had a couple of vendors, that I picked up some freebies and that seemed to be it. Then I saw the arrows that pointed to outside and as I was trying to find my way back to leave, the arrows took me to another room, but this time it was three times as big as the first and filled with vendors, including their biggest sponsor Mizuno (big fan, by the way).

I picked up a bunch of stuff from here, I had a huge bag filled up. Seemed that the big thing to do there was to have professional photographers take your picture, that you can then retrieve by Facebook or their website. They were nice enough to have english translations of the marketing that shows you how to do that. I took advantage of most of those, I especially liked the Seiko one, where you gave them your estimated finish time and they took a photo with that. I didn't even come close to mine, but that's fine with me.

At the Mizuno area, they had us try on their shoes, this year they didn't have a limited edition Osaka Marathon shoe, which I was really disappointed by, however if you bought a pair of shoes there, they monogrammed it for you, which was really cool. After trying on shoes they gave away nice fabric bracelets and a hand wrap that you can slide your estimated finish time into and it has all the break downs for pacing yourself, I thought that was really cool.

What I realized though is, that they love to give out freebies, but they make you work for it. One station was where they had us follow and exercise routine, the other was filling out paperwork (they skipped me since I didn't have a permanent address in Japan), then we had to try one running shoes and run a circle in them. Asahi was there, they were giving out non alcoholic beer, it was really good and it tasted just like the real thing.

I picked up a few things at the Mizuno store there, I got a little hand towel, pre/post race rain cover and very cool bib clips, I'll share them on a YouTube video, click on the link below to see how cool these things really are. They did have an official Osaka Marathon Store there, however by the time I got there, there were slip pickings, I picked up a button just for a memento.

You can check out my Expo Haul video on YouTube

Once I was done with the expo, they had a very nicely marked course to exit, but before you exit, there was a huge hall filled with food vendors, I mean HUGE. It smelled so good, but I was getting close to my four limit there and I didn't have much cash left over, the only place that took credit cards was the Mizuno store, cash only at the other booths.

And so I made my way back to the train station and off to Takashimaya I went to meet up with my family.

I had a great time and well worth all that time spent there.

Happy running...


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