National Running Show

Racecheck #Visorclub at the National Running Show - with Dame Kelly Holmes
Racecheck #Visorclub at the National Running Show - with Dame Kelly Holmes

It has been a long and very busy weekend, all to do with running. I was racing today, but I’ll do my review of that in a separate post.

The National Running Show

I’ll start with Saturday, where I got up very early to travel to Birmingham for Day 1 of the National Running Show.

The build up

There has been a lot of build up to this event. They were certainly trying to build things up with an avalanche of emails. Daily emails for the whole week ahead of the event. This is something I hate and almost unsubscribed from their mailing list. After all, I’ve got my ticket and I can read the information on the website. I spend far too much time sifting through emails generally. Unnecessary posts do get my goat and end up deleted without being read. Anyway I digress.

A bit more background – Twitter!!

I tend to get involved with the online running community, predominantly through Twitter via the @UKRunChat forum. For those that don’t know, this is a virtual group of like-minded runners who converse via the social platform. There are twice-weekly #CommunityHour sessions which are essentially a more focused Q&A forum for all to participate. If you look out for the #ukrunchat hashtag, these two slots occur 8-9pm on Wednesdays and Sundays.

Whilst many have managed to meet up at various race events during the year, it’s actually the first time I’ve met any of this group in real life. And there were a lot of us there to meet!

The Racecheck #visorclub group is effectively a subset of the above group. Racecheck is an online site for athletes to review the races they go to. This provides would-be participants with the low-down of events. If you submit reviews, you’re entered into a monthly draw with the prize being a Racecheck visor. Hence #visorclub.

Arrival

You may be wondering why I’ve added this information. Well, Racecheck were also one of the sponsors for the National Running Show. It had been agreed therefore that they’d get as many of the #visorclub along for a photograph with the opening speaker, Dame Kelly Holmes.

Racecheck #Visorclub at the National Running Show - with Dame Kelly Holmes

Racecheck #Visorclub at the National Running Show – with Dame Kelly Holmes

It was also very useful to help identify people to each other as we all arrived. Some faces I recognised easily, others less so. As my profile is my cartoon furry creature, I was possibly less easily recognised despite it bearing an uncanny likeness…..

A striking resemblance. Apparently!

A striking resemblance. Apparently!

Anyway, as we assembled for the photograph, the queue for the show stretched right around the concourse outside of the exhibition hall. Seems there was a lot of interest in this show! A few more promotional photos were taken and then the show was officially open.

First Impressions

The hall was somewhat smaller than I was anticipating. And whilst it may have seemed fine when they laid it all out, once the concourse-full of people got in there, it was rammed. To the point you couldn’t really get to look at any of the stalls without the risk of a stampede-related incident.

It’s great that there was such an interest in the show. However, the downside was that the hall was uncomfortable rammed full of people very early on. At some point a decision was clearly taken to limit the number of people coming in at any time until people left, and that certainly prevented the situation getting out of hand.

The downside of course was that it was very difficult to move around the show at this time due to the volume of people. Speaking as one who is uncomfortable in crowds, this made it an unpleasant experience for me, although as the day went on, the crowds thinned to a more manageable level. In addition there was a big rush to a number of the popular items such as the 3D gait analysis which meant within a short space of time their capacity for the full day had been met.

It became apparent that the demand for goods was higher than anticipated by a number of the stalls who had sold a large proportion of their merchandise during the morning!

I understand that next year’s event (I’ve already had an email (!!) with the dates) is going to be spread over a much wider area. So that’s hopefully a good thing which will make the whole experience a bit more pleasant. Also with having had 1 year’s experience, the exhibitors will hopefully have a better feel for how much merchandise to bring along!

Those there. And those that were not

What was noticeable to me were those big companies that weren’t there. For example. only 2 footwear companies were represented (Saucony & Hoka). This is a running event, for runners! So I had expected there to be a few more of their competitors there.

Similarly the number of tech companies was limited. With Apple pushing their way into the running tech world with the Apple Watch, I’d have expected the likes of Garmin, Suunto, Fitbit and Tom Tom to be there, trying to make sure they had their products in front of this hungry audience. But no, they weren’t there. I’m guessing with CES being only a few weeks ago they may have decided to wait to see if this new event had interest. And surely they’ll be there in 2019? Strikes me as a missed opportunity if not!

That said, there was a good selection and variety of exhibitors at this year’s show. Ranging from nutrition to lighting, Running holidays to a few event organisers and the opportunity to meet and talk to the speakers and other running experts. And plenty of opportunities to purchase clothing of a wide range of varieties!

My own walkabout

I’m not one for wandering around browsing goods to buy. I do my shopping over the internet, it’s not something I’m that fond of in person! So after listening to Dame Kelly Holmes open the show, and catching up with Ben Smith (401 Foundation) I looked about and felt a bit overwhelmed with the crowds.

However I knew that a couple of the other running coaches I trained with were coming to the show. An exchange of texts later and we all met up to have a look around. What was useful was our discussions about what we felt we could offer as coaches to some of the companies and products being exhibited. We spent much of the day then approaching and talking to them. It’s all very early days but I came away feeling so much more fired up than I did when I arrived.

I even launched my own Instagram profile and Facebook page for my coaching business. More to follow on those, but please do give them a follow! Similarly, there will be further information on this website which relates to my coaching.

At the Saucony stand

At the Saucony stand doing a bit of #LymeRunners advertising!

Purchases?

Actually I did loosen the purse-strings whilst I was there. With some funky race-number clips and a new head-torch even more powerful than the one I’ve already got. That’s fine for simple trails, but theĀ  one from the show was a decent deal and a whole lot brighter still. I could probably land an aircraft with the light it produces. We’ll have to see how it performs. At least it’s dark most of the time in January so the opportunities should be there…….

Race pins. Which aren't pins

Race pins. Which aren’t pins

Conclusion

The show was operating over 2 days. And by the time I’d got home I’d received (yet) another email from the Running Show asking me to come back for day 2. I mean, seriously. I get why you get sent reminders, but I’ve had more emails from the National Running Show over the past week than I want by about 3-fold.

In all honesty, I had seen all I wanted in one day. Yes there were different speakers on day 2 and I could have spent all day listening to them. But whilst I’m happy to listen to a couple of talks, a full day of them is too much. With not going back for day 2 (I was racing – post to follow) I don’t know what the footfall was like compared to the first day.

I’m interested to see where this show goes from here. Will it be bigger and better next year? And will it attract so many people again, or will the novelty have worn off? I genuinely hope that it is well supported and that more companies involved in running get on board. It is an increasingly large market with no other big event (away from those attached to races) to communicate with the running public.

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