By Talia Lissauer
Boston University News Service
BOSTON – Emotions filled runner Marcos De Sa of New Hampshire as he stepped into this year’s Boston Marathon Expo Friday, the same way he had the last eight times he ran the Boston Marathon — except this time with a mask.
“I was not excited until I got here, because it is just another thing, but when you get here, you really feel the vibe,” De Sa said. “(It’s) much quieter, organized as usual but not a lot of people, which is ok for me.”
For the first time since before the pandemic, mask-wearing runners, supporters and exhibitors filled the second floor of the Hynes Convention Center for the 125th Boston Marathon’s annual expo.
Despite the decrease of attendees, Justin Burdon, owner of the Heartbreak Hill Running Company, said it is great to be back in person and working with runners again.
“It’s been different than prior years because there are not as many people and not as many exhibitors,” Burdon said while running the Maurten’s booth at the expo. “It’s kind of nice since there is a little more room, and you can feel the energy. People are excited to get back to being with each other and races.”
At the expo, runners picked up their numbers and could then take photos, pick up additional Adidas gear and explore the limited number of exhibitors. The expo runs from Friday through Sunday, closing at 6 p.m. each day.
Included is a large area with Boston Marathon apparel, along with Adidas clothing and shoes. A limited number of additional booths include Gatorade samples, Samuel Adams beer and games, a selfie station and more.
Attendees were able to try samples and interact with the different expos. Some booths had items available for purchase including Maurten’s running gels.
Before picking up their bib number, runners had to get a bracelet from the vaccine/COVID-19 testing verification center. Even before entering, all attendees had to go through security and put on a face covering.
First-time Boston Marathon runner Tara Albaugh from Minnesota said she felt the Boston Athletic Association is doing a great job with both COVID-19 procedures and staying organized to make sure all runners feel safe.
After the 124th Marathon took place virtually, Reg Chow of Vancouver said a virtual marathon felt like any other day of training and that he is just happy to be back, even if the expo is much smaller than he is used to.
“After 900 days, it is much smaller, little things have changed in Boston but still the big race is happening,” Chow said.
In addition to the expo, the Boston Marathon Fan Fest has also returned for 2021. Ceremonies, panels and concerts are all set for this weekend, as 20,000 runners prepare for the 125th Boston Marathon on Monday.