Friday, October 10, 2008


First up, a nearly 3'x3' Duke logo that has been cut out and turned into a stencil which, when combined with some nifty spray chalk, will be used to mark up the race course in front of the State Street Crocs store for our marathon raceday grassroots efforts.

This event is by far the biggest event we've had since I joined the tour, and the scale of everything is probably ten times that of any other event. Just check out this expo floor plan.

The expo is at McCormick Place, which has 4 main buildings all individually larger than most convention centers, a hotel built in, a food court, two Starbucks, two FedEx Kinkos, and much more. The massive buildings feature glass fronts and appealing architecture.

Oh, and I should mention that the last photo is approximately where I was nearly run down by an umarked police car this afternoon. I was crossing (with the crossing guard waving me on) when we both heard what sounded like an ambulance siren start up nearby. I figured my best bet was to run to the other side of the street to get out of the way since I couldn't see the siren source, but just as I began to do so the unmarked cruiser whipped around a car at the light at high speed and missed me by perhaps two feet. Yikes. The crossing guard's jaw dropped.

Anyway, more architecture.

One of the buildings had a very simple, elegant fountain that is one of my favorite fountains of all time as of today. It was simply arches of water that would shoot out of a shallow pool and form an arch back into the water. The clean, crisp look and sound of the fountain was very refreshing.

Now, the expo itself. Dealing with union labor wasn't great, but was still an improvement over Philly. It struck me during load-in just how much transformation the expo room undergoes in only a day. Take these photos as examples.

A complete mess.

No mess whatsoever.

Did a tornado come through?

And today.

The size of the event brings bigger vendors with better booths to the expo. Some of the highlights were VW filming personalized commercials that get posted online for viewing...

Bank of America filming the entire race course by car and running it as a time-lapse style video (also interesting to note: I was confused when I watched the vehicle filming repeatedly cross into the wrong side of the road until I noticed police cars creep into the edge of the picture from time to time. That's a pretty serious effort if it involves getting a police escort just to drive the course)...

Nike has a space many times bigger than any other vendor, but their area was packed the entire day. Hundred upon hundreds of people made it impossible to move around their area. I'd call it a booth, but that wouldn't even begin to describe it. They had at least 20 cash registers. We have one.

And for further comparison, our setup during load-in:

And the finished product (you can play "where's Molly?"):

Cheer signs are often popular, but today things devolved into an all out kids coloring party at one point. We're having to ration greatly because we only have 400 for the weekend though we could easily pass our 1000.

After a long expo day with some rush hour driving, parking tickets, and arguing with various people, we finally got back to the hotel and went to a place called Big Bowl for dinner. You know this city takes its marathon seriously when restaurants provide high-carb menus for carbo-loading atheletes. I didn't order off this one, but I can think of many times in the past where I would have.

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