I signed up to attend the show way back in November when there was a competition – the first 100 people to sign up on Black Friday obtained free entry to the show. So it’s fair to say I’d been looking forward to this for months, keeping up-to-date with news on speakers, exhibitors etc. However, places on the last weekend of January money for me was basically non-existent but the prospect of seeing some inspirational runners kept my enthusiasm up.
Due to a family commitment on the Saturday I decided to attend on the Sunday meaning I would miss Kelly Holmes 😞 Reading comments after Saturday’s event I wasn’t too sure what to expect. There were many mixed reviews but I decided to brave the snow (it was going to rain that afternoon so unlikely that I’d be stranded at the NEC) and head to Birmingham.
I arrived around 11.30am and made my way on the bus to the event hall – who knew that you took a bus to take you from the car park! There was no queue to enter the running show which was a nice surprise after reading Saturday’s comments. I picked up a programme and wandered around a few exhibitors. With nothing particular in mind it was interesting to see what gadgets were on offer. I picked up some funky number fasteners that said ‘Keep Calm and Run for Wine’.
I grabbed a sandwich, before finding a good spot for Lisa Jackson’s speaker slot at 1pm. As I was waiting I spotted someone from my running club so we had a quick chat and I’d arranged to see her once I’d listened to Lisa’s talk. Whilst waiting (I was there super early) I got chatting to two ladies from Bolton who’d enjoyed the Saturday so much they’d come back for the Sunday. They told me all about meeting Jo Pavey the day before and I learnt about the group, Run Mummy Run that I’d assumed was just for mums. I’ve since looked into the group in more detail, joined their Facebook pages and look forward to reading the newly-released book in the near future.
Lisa’s talk was as expected and made me (along with other audience members) laugh out loud! I love her attitude, her passion and her enthusiasm for running. Who knew that coming last was competitive in itself!?! I also learnt a new rhyme which will come along with me in future runs:
I AM FIT
I AM STRONG
I CAN RUN A MARATHON
Next, I stuck around for nutritionist, Anita Bean’s talk which was really quite insightful. Did you know that you don’t necessarily need to carb-load for a half marathon?
I met my friend from RC and continued on a walk of the show to visit some exhibitors. Looked at some shoe laces that you don’t need to tie. A foam roller that vibrates and doesn’t cause you pain (who knew!). Headphones that use your bones so you can listen to music and still hear what’s going on around you at the same time.
Once my friend left I decided to head back to the speakers stage to see what what on next. I’d been recommended the talk by Barefoot Aleks Kashefi from the ladies I’d met earlier. I’m so glad I was there for it. What a guy. What an adventure. What an achievement. And to think, mostly barefoot?!?
I bumped into Big Carl Running, introduced myself and had a quick chat. Then speaking to @sportygirl_85 I heard more about the next presenter, Dan Keeley – a mental health campaigner. Another story which was one of the most inspirational stories I’ve heard. His video of his journey from Rome to Home was amazing and full of emotion. Another that I am so glad I stayed around for.
Finally, the second presentation that I was desperate to listen to was Ben Smith, the 401 challenge. Many runners know about the 401 challenge but there was so much to Ben’s life that I wasn’t aware of and before he took on the challenge which made it even more of an achievement.
One thing that I was prepared to treat myself to was a pair of Runderwear – I’ve been hoping to try these for ages – however upon arriving to the stand all that was left was men’s Runderwear and a handful of sports bras. I was left disappointed buy hey-ho my spirits weren’t too dampened – there’s always online!
It’s likely that the show was busier on the Saturday however I’m not sure what all of the complaining was about? Seriously, the show was in it’s first year. There was lack of the ‘big’ brands and I would have liked to have seen more races advertised. Parking was £12 at the NEC but the organisers have zero-control over this. The presentations were fantastic, in fact I could have easily sat and watched them all day! I was certainly glad of the free ticket. It will be really interesting to see how the show evolves next year, especially as they have Paula Radcliffe already signed up!