With this being the third race in the Akron Marathon Race Series, most of us know what to expect on packet pick-up day. But this time, the event comes with a full blown Health & Fitness Expo. So let's take a closer look...

The Expo is free and open to the public, and runs from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday (Sept. 22) at the John S. Knight Center, 77 E. Mill Street in downtown Akron.

THE PACKET

The most important thing about this event is it's where you pick up your racing bib! You must get your bib on Friday. There is no option for getting it Saturday before the race. If you can't make it, you can send someone, but make sure they have your phone number and address so they can verify your identity.

You must attach your bib to the front of your shirt on race day. This bib has a timing device that will trip the timing mats you cross. The Akron Marathon final instructions indicated relay runners will find a second bib without the timing chip. That one goes on the back of your shirt.

If you are doing Leg 1 of the Team Relay, make sure you grab a slap bracelet from the counter before you leave here. This is what you will pass off to your Leg 2 teammate.

The tech shirt that comes with your registration is separate from your bib, at a counter near the exit of the Expo hall. Don't forget to grab that before you leave.

Also, make sure you don't leave without a gear check bag, should you want to use that on race day.

Your bib is a pretty busy piece of fabric. Here's what everything means:


The color of the bib will vary. If it's yellow, you're registered for the marathon. Gray, half marathon. Pink, relay team. The pink is even more specific: Solid pink means your team has both men and women, striped pink means your team is all male or all female. That's because awards are given out in all those categories.

Note that you have a "Corral" letter on your bib if you are beginning the race at the High Street starting line. You didn't see this at the 8k or 10k races. This corresponds with the pace you gave when you registered. You'll need to line up in the corral on your racing bib.

(If you are running relay legs 2, 3, 4 or 5, you will find corral assignments in your Relay Exchange Zone based on your bib number. You'll line up beneath your number range so your teammate can find you easier!)

Also, take a moment to fill out the medical information on the back of the bib, and make sure your emergency contact information is correct. If it needs updated, just write in the changes, and write clearly.

THE PASTA PARTY

A tradition of the Expo is the Pasta Party, which features an all-you-can-eat pasta and salad bar, dessert and drinks. It costs $22 and you have to reserve a spot. It runs 5 to 9 p.m., with the last seating at 8 p.m. You can RSVP HERE and pay the day of the Expo.

Personally, I'm torn about the value of eating pasta that late in the day. We had a Blue Line Beginner speaker earlier this year that suggested that's really too late for the carb load to amount to anything by Saturday morning. And another speaker suggested the lunch before race day was more important. So if you want to do the Pasta Party, at least enjoy it for the camaraderie.

2017 AMBASSADOR

Each year race organizers select an Akron Marathon Ambassador, and these are usually nationally known names in the field of running. This year is no exception. Kara Gouicher, a 2-time Olympian and 3-time NCAA Champion, will be at the Expo, with meet and greets scheduled for 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m. The other cool thing about Kara is she is actually running the half marathon. The ambassadors don't usually actually join in the race.

Anyway, you can read more about Kara here: http://www.akronmarathon.org/media/press-releases/elite-runner-kara-goucher-to-be-honored-with-2017-akron-marathon-ambassador-award.aspx

EXHIBITORS and the BLB BOOTH


The Expo also features a bunch of exhibitor booths. There will be some giveaways and lots of stuff for sale. And even if you're not buying, you might enjoy window shopping. No doubt there are some helpful things out there we don't even know about.

Among the exhibitors is, of course, our very own Blue Line Beginners! Our members will be on hand to meet and greet visitors, share their stories, and answer questions.

From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the BLB booth will be staffed with our speediest member, Bob Gill, as well as three members of our newly-formed Steering Committee, Karen Jackson and mother-daughter Lynn and Jen Kline.

From 1 to 3 p.m., Bob Gill will be joined at the booth by Green fitness friends and speedwalkers Mary Jo Jones and Penny Spickard, and Children's Champion Jim Merklin.

From 3 to 5 p.m., meet Kris Kienzl, who has been documenting her summer-long series for Goodyear, and two of our half marathon hopefuls, Deanna Albertson and Abby Gentsch.

From 5 to 7 p.m., Kent educators Pat Harper and Kathy Scott (also brand new half marathon runners) will be in the booth.

From 7 to 9 p.m., another member of our new Steering Committee, Elizabeth Kinsella, as well as Marcia Linberger, who is showing us how injured participants can remain active through volunteerism, will staff the booth.

DIRECTIONS AND PARKING

So, how do you get to the Expo? Here are driving directions from the Akron Marathon:



But please note that at 7 p.m., the city will be closing High Street so that race organizers can begin constructing the start line structure. If you are at the Expo after those hours, you'll need to enter or leave without benefit of High Street.

There are three parking decks and lots within a block of the John S Knight Center, so look for those on High and Broadway. They cost money; rates vary.

-- Paula Schleis