Boston Marathon Expo and Packet Pickup Tips

Hynes Convention Center

Are you planning to run the upcoming Boston Marathon? Or possibly planning to run it in the future?

If so, first off, congrats! That’s super exciting and you’re definitely setting yourself up for an unforgettable time. The course, the crowds, the city, every aspect of the Boston Marathon is a joy and something to get excited about! 

However, before you toe the line in Hopkinton, you’re going to need to stop by the Boston Marathon Expo. Even if you have done larger scale marathons before, you might find yourself with a few questions. Here are a few answers to the most common ones and some information from personal experiences. If you find yourself with other questions regarding the Boston Marathon, please feel free to drop a comment below. 

Where is the Boston Marathon Expo Located?

The Boston Marathon Expo is typically held at the John B. Hynes Veterans Memorial Convention Center at 900 Boylston St. The convention center is located on Boylston Street, the exact street where the Boston Marathon finishes. Be sure to check the Marathon guide on the website, just to make sure nothing changed the year you go.

Hynes Convention Center

When Should You Go to the Boston Marathon Expo?

The Boston Marathon Expo typically runs from Friday to Sunday, with varying hours each of the days. The best day to go is typically Friday. It might be a little crazy in the afternoon, once runners start arriving at the city and the locals get off of work, but it typically is the best day to go.

Why is Friday the best day to go to the Boston Marathon Expo? First, it’s the farthest day from race day and the merchandise might be better on Friday!

Having a few days between the expo and when you run helps to save your legs. You know how whenever you head to a big race expo you say you’re only going to be there for a quick minute? A quick minute turns into 30 minutes, then 60 minutes, and before you realize it, you’ve spent the entire day on your feet.

Spoiler alert: Spending the entire day on your feet before you plan to run a major marathon? Not a great plan! You know this already, but it’s worth repeating. 

If you go to the expo on Friday and do find yourself spending too much time on your feet, you have time to recover! 

Aside from giving your body time to rest in the days leading up to the marathon, the merchandise selection at the expo is always going to be the best on the first day. Even though the expo will be well-stocked, items do sell out. Especially in some sizes. Head to the expo early if you want a specific merchandise item.

Plus, going Friday gives you wiggle room in case you forgot anything. If you realized you forgot safety pins or need to pick up some Body Glide you can sneak in real fast and grab that item on another expo day.

Pick-up Your Packet First

Once you get to the expo, your first stop is most likely going to be the bib pickup. You kind of get funneled that way and shouldn’t be able to miss this check-point. If somehow this isn’t your first stop, back up so you can be sure to grab it. Your bib is your most important item to take away from the expo. Without it, you are unable to run! It’s a non-negotiable, acting as your ticket to the buses, access to the course, and your finish line medal at the end. Don’t, don’t, don’t, DON’T forget to grab it!!

Create Spectator Signs at the Expo

After you grab your packet, look for an information booth that might have spectator signs available. These signs are for the taking and anyone can jazz one up. There should be markers at the booth for you to use. 

Attending the Boston Marathon Expo with friends or family who plan to spectate you along the course? Be sure to have them use these free signs to make a quick cheering sign to hold for you as you run. 

I don’t think there have been any studies done to show how signs along the course can help move runners along, but I know they don’t hurt. Having one that is specifically made for you? Even better!!

Besides that, it can be so hard to spot your fans along the course while you are running. Especially as you move into the further miles of the course when everyone starts looking the same. However, if there is a sign that is being held above the crowd with your name on it, you might just have an easier time spotting it!

If for some reason there aren’t DIY signs available at the Boston Marathon Expo the year you go, head to a local CVS or drug store. Any little store that might have some cardboard and markers you can use!

Find Your Name on the Wall

Typically, there will be a large wall with all of the race participants listed. The names are going to be super tiny but will be in alphabetical order. Be sure to try and find yours!

This might not be an every year occurrence, but it is has been popular at big races over the past few years. If it is present, grab a picture with you pointing at your name!

…and if the wall with everyone’s names isn’t there? Go find the wall where you can write your name!

Boston Marathon Expo

Photo Opportunities at the Boston Marathon Expo

It wouldn’t be a modern-day big race without photo opportunities and the Boston Marathon does not disappoint. There are often official photo opportunities from the course photographers, plus other spots you can snap a photo or two with your cell phone or DSLR. Keep your eyes peeled and be sure to capture as many as you can. You’re making memories!! (But for real though.)

Boston Marathon Expo Photo Opportunities, Pictures at Boston Marathon Expo

Official Merchandise

After you grab your bib and a few photos, you’re going to head into the Official Merchandise area of the Boston Marathon.

It’s gonna be crazy. Everyone is going to be hanging out here grabbing all the goodies. 

Prepare for this and it won’t be a surprise.

It’s definitely worth a stop so you can check out all the items and maybe snag one or two. If you have your eye on something specific, see if you can grab it before the big race, online. Specifically, this includes the annual Boston Marathon jacket. They will most likely have these, and hopefully in your size, at the expo, but if you have it beforehand you can make sure it fits. Plus, you can rest easy if that is the one thing you want and the crowds end up being too crazy for you to deal with.

Vendor and Sponsor Merchandise at the Boston Marathon Expo

After your pass the Official Boston Marathon merchandise, you enter the land of vendors and sponsors! Lots of goodies should be all around, so be sure to take it all in. However, be careful. This is the part of the expo that tends to suck people in. You get caught up in walking to every single booth and trying all the things. Before you know it, 2 to 3 hours have passed, and you’ve got yourself a pair of tired legs.

Instead of trying to hit every item in the expo, maybe do a quick preliminary circle around, checking out which booths you might want to stop at. Then, take one more loop stopping at only a select few, helping to save your legs, but also to check out the booths that really matter to you. 

And, if you don’t happen to see any merchandise that you really want at the Boston Marathon Expo, be sure to check out the Magic for Miles shop. There are lots of different marathon-inspired goodies there!

Conclusion for the Boston Marathon Expo Tips

There ya go! A few tips on what to expect at the Boston Marathon Expo. Plus, how to make sure you aren’t spending all day on your legs. You need to stay fresh for that long downhill stretch at the start of the marathon and the hills that close off the course. Good luck and enjoy the excitement! This is just the beginning of the fun.

Boston Marathon Expo Tips

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