May 4, 2016

London Marathon Expo and Trip Photos

After being home for just over a week,  my thoughts are now turning to a wonderful week in London and what worked well for our racecation there.  Our arrival day was Wednesday, the first day of the race expo.  After landing at London Heathrow airport at 7:30 am, we went through customs and immigration quickly. After a pretty long walk,  we made it to the underground station for the trains into central London (affectionately called the Tube). It is an easy way to get around and we had Oyster cards from a prior visit so we just topped them up later on in the day. With only one stop for a change of trains, we were at the door of the Conrad Hilton by 9:30 am, far earlier than we had anticipated.  Our room was not ready, but we were allowed to use the lounge to have some breakfast, shower and change and then store our luggage.  Next stop: expo!
Again we took the subway and this time we had to change to light rail to go to the expo at the ExCel building that is located in East London.  When changing trains we caught sight of the Tower of London and of course this got me excited for race morning when we pass the tower during the race.



The expo opened at 11am and we were there at opening time. Our first stop was packet pickup and with only one runner ahead of me, this went very quickly.
Only one runner in front of me at packet pickup!
This race required a sports tag timing device that you attached to your shoe. They handed this to the runners after you received your packet and bag.  You also received several twist ties to attach the plastic piece to your shoe and an instruction sheet.


Unlike the big races in the US, there was far less official merchandise.  This did not surprise me because we had run the Rock n Roll Dublin race in 2014, and that too had a limited selection.  I did find a couple shirts, one tee and one tank for running. We would not get our race shirt until we had completed the 26.2 miles as part of our finisher gear.  It surprised me that the shirts were unisex sizing so my small shirt is like a dress.  Thankfully I got these other two tops at the expo. As you can see, I also purchased a tea towel and a #oneinamillion mug!


There were many opportunities for staged fun photos, probably more than I have seen at other races.  Since it was the first day of the expo and not crowded, I took advantage of all of them!

Loved the iconic double decker London bus!

the race medal in a jumbo size!

The finish line- should have been running in this one!

The fundraiser tally at the expo- they exceeded over 23,000,000 GBP 

There were plenty of booths with running supplies including shoes, gels, and clothing.  Since I brought everything for race day, we moved fairly quickly past these.  Tom was also my sidekick for the expo and since he is not a runner, I tried to move things along so he wouldn't get bored.  We also were ready for lunch!

3 down and 3 to go of the World Marathon Majors!
After the expo visit, we were back to our hotel and enjoying a quick lunch before an afternoon nap! We loved the location, particularly for this race. It was absolutely perfect with a walk back from the finish line of just over half a mile.  It also is adjacent to the St. James Tube stop making it very convenient for public transportation. If you plan to run this marathon be sure to check out the finish line area hotels. Staying in Greenwich near the start would only be nice on race morning because the return travel after running a marathon could be pretty long after racing!

Found this in our hotel room one afternoon and yes, they spoiled us!

The Mall finish area two days prior to the marathon
St. James Park and Green Park give you plenty of space for running prior to the race.  There are loads of people who use these parks and I have run through them on my own during several other trips.

Our first day walking in St James Park. Can you spot the London eye in the background?
 Booking restaurants prior to our trip made me happier, but honestly I think we could have done it just as easily once we arrived.  We ate at Jamie Oliver's Italian one night, Pizza Express, and Zizzi's which all had basic food for me and some nice choices for Tom.  All three of these restaurants accommodated me with plain grilled chicken and pasta.  I know, I know boring but it works for me. Sunday night, Robyn, her husband Scott, Tom and I celebrated our day at Belgo Centraal in Covent Garden.  It was a blast and we enjoyed big plates of food and some adult libations!
Of course we wore our medals and newly earned finisher jackets!
The only touristy thing we did while on our trip was a visit to Kensington Palace on Thursday with a couple who we met and spent time with during Tom's employment in England.  There was a great display of the Queen's and Princess Diana's evening dresses that absolutely thrilled the boys to no end.  Afterwards we made up for it by having lunch which included a few beers (for them not me).

Kensington Palace Gardens
Unfortunately a small ailment kept me from a visit to see other friends on Friday in a suburb of London.  Monday after the race we managed to meet another couple of friends for a celebration lunch at the Babylon Rooftop Gardens, a place we highly recommend! This trip and race exceeded all my expectations and honestly we were so lucky with the weather.  In all our travels to London, we have rarely seen such beautiful blue skies.
Tuesday morning at the Tower Bridge before our flight home to the US
Feel free to ask any questions. Everything went so seamlessly that I really can't think of anything we would have done differently.
(Pam)



16 comments:

  1. I love all the staged photos at the expo! Looks like you had a great time.

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    1. It was really great to run a race outside of the US. Can't wait to read some your race recaps from your adventures while traveling/living away.

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  2. Very fun, Pam! I still need to catch up on your posts, but this left me very excited for the fall. Interesting about the merchandise, I wonder if it will be similar in Berlin (finisher shirts don't come with the entry - have to purchase it separately). When you ran RnR Dublin did you also have to wear a timing chip? I wonder if more European races have that? Berlin will also have a timing chip vs. bib tag.

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    1. We also had a shoe timing chip for RnR Dublin. Maybe it is a European thing.

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  3. I love your medal shot at the Tower Bridge. From all of your pictures, it definitely looks like you lucked out with the weather. Seems very unusual for England.

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    1. It was really unusual to have sunny weather. Our first summer living in England we never wore shorts and had on a rain coat alot of the time!

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  4. Looks like it was a wonderful place for a destination race! I too watch what I eat before the race, but afterwards I love being able to eat whatever I want and not worry about it!

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    1. Oh I went crazy afterwards....beer, fries, you name it and I ate it. That's what you are supposed to do after finishing a marathon!

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  5. Love all the fun photo ops at the expo, especially the huge medal!

    I don't think I would like to get my race shirt AFTER the race because like you mentioned, what if it doesn't fit? I don't usually buy any extra shirts (like the I DID IT shirts) cus I feel the race shirt is enough, but if the race shirt is something that I didn't like or didn't fit properly, I'd want that opportunity to buy one at the expo. After the race it would be too late.

    Glad you got a few shirts that you liked though.

    Oh, and I'll mention that the one "touristy" thing I wanted to do in London was ride a double decker bus but I did not see one the entire time I was there. Perhaps next time!-M

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    1. There really aren't that many buses anymore. I still enjoy riding in the black taxis though.

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  6. I love all the fun photo opportunities they had, especially the giant medal! So cool that you're half way through the marathon majors.

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    1. I think that giant medal was my favorite place for a photo. I've never seen that before at an expo.

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  7. Wonderful, Pam! I'm so glad you guys had a great time! Love this recap!!

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    1. Thanks Karen. I don't things could have gone better for a race vacation.

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  8. I love all the photo opps at the expo! And it looks so beautiful there! So glad you had such a great trip!!!

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  9. Awesome pictures and photo opps! I love the double decker bus one and the huge medal, and of course the crossing the finish one. It looks like you had a wonderful trip.

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