I’ve mentioned before that I am on staff for the Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon and I’ve recieved some emails asking what all being a staffer entails. My unit of work is goody bags…or swag bags if you hustlas want to sound cool. If you have ever ran (or walked) a half marathon or full marathon then you most likely have been to an expo. I’m a sucker for expos since I always walk away with bags and bags full of free and discounted stuff.
This year we are having roughly 7300 entrants to the marathon which means we had to stuff 7300 bags. My co-captain Robyn has spent the last couple of months contacting companies and requesting samples for products. We had some really good ideas for samples, but next year we will have to begin a lot earlier to ensure that we secure everything we request.
This year’s bags had lots and lots of fliers from various events around the nation as well as some entry forms for more local races. We also put fridge magnets, pens, toothpaste, wallets, sunglass cleaners, coloring books, water bottles, biofreeze, and Chick-fil-a coupons in them. This may not sound like a whole lot but doing 7300 of them, the swag is pretty good. We used the exhibit hall that our expo will be held in to stuff them all. The coolest part was that since I was a captain, I got to park inside the building. Neato! Our volunteers worked so hard and we got them stuffed in a record 6 hours and 15 minutes. That’s some hard core stuffing.
Working behind the scenes of a marathon has given me an entirely different perspective on event planning. I know I won’t ever visit an expo again and complain about the swag bag because people do the best they can. I will thank every volunteer because they put in long hours to make this event possible. And I’ll read through every piece of paper in my goody bag because someone worked really hard to get them in there. Hopefully you have some insight now on what goes on before the expo. Next weekend I’ll be running my 8th half (ahh). I was planning on trying to beat last year’s time, but with the lack of training I am definitely just hoping to finish and enjoy myself. As Tim Gunn would say, “Make it work”.
Now tell me what is the best swag bag you have ever got at a race event? Would you work on marathon staff? Do you think volunteering for races is just as fun as running them?