Saturday, June 4, 2011

See Jane Run Expo

I don't normally do early packet pick-up but given that tomorrow is going to be a wet, cold and windy mess, getting my packet today seemed like a smart idea. We were told the Race Expo would be across the street from the Oakland See Jane Run Store. I had to look up the store's address since they didn't bother to include that in the e-mail. As I head into Oakland it just starts poring, so much for trying to stay ahead of the rain. As I get onto College Avenue I see the store on the right and look to my left and all I see are other stores, no outdoor expo clearly. Maybe, they moved it into the store because it's raining? Maybe it's behind the store? I pay my $2 to park in downtown Oakland and run across the street into the store. Clearly a hooded running jacket was not enough, I'm drenched. The only signs in the store say that all participants receive a 10% discount on purchases. No one is friendly or helpful and it's obvious there is no packet pick-up in the store. I hear someone else ask who receives the answer "It's at the elementary school" with this look like she's an idiot and we should know that. I don't even bother to ask where the elementary school is because I don't need a similar encounter with the rude employee. Instead, I opt to follow the 6 other women in front of me hoping they know where the elementary school is. The elementary school is across the street and down the block, something that would have bee nice to know ahead of time, especially since it's pouring rain, I mean buckets and buckets of rain.

I am relieved to see that the Expo is inside, although as we arrive, it's clear they are not set-up and ready to go at 11am. So we stand in line for about 10 minutes before they let us check in. Thankfully I'm pretty close to the front and it appears that there are two people checking people in for their bibs and timing chips. I'm thinking that one is for 5k and one for 1/2 Marathon, but there are no signs and no one has made an announcement. The two people handing out the items and a third woman who is reading bib numbers off of a laptop look annoyed and irritated and are pretty much anything but friendly. When they realize someone is in the wrong line they then decided to make a not very loud announcement in regards to the lines. I than here the woman on the laptop say ask "couldn't we have emailed them their bib numbers ahead of time so we wouldn't have to look up every single one?" Awesome, more unfriendly folks, to be fair I believe these three with Finish Line Productions and not See Jane Run, but still. Luckily I heard someone else say that goody bags and shirts were in another room since no one volunteered that information to me. At this point I had to fight my way back through the line to get to this small room where I was asked for my bib to tear off a section to show I had received my goody bag, at which point I stood and waited for someone to give me a bag and finally the woman prompted this young man to give me a bag... I see we have trained the volunteers well. I grabbed a shirt and got out as fast as I could. Since I was here, I did want to see Expo but the way the room was set up and the location of the line it was nearly impossible to get through to the vendor booths. It was also clear that not all of the vendors/sponsors had showed up. I managed to get to the MetroMint Table and thankfully they were friendly. I just wanted a coupon since I love their water, they chatted and asked if I knew where to get the water and I told them that I used to get it at Whole Foods but was excited that my Safeway started carrying it. They mentioned that Safeway sells it cheaper than everywhere else. I need to get past the Arbonne table, they are selling all kinds of stuff and I sampled one of their drinks while in line (smart vendor) but didn't care for it. I was trying to peer down to the end of the room to see if it was worthwhile to even try to get past the bottleneck of the bib line. I spotted the FRS table and decided that was worth it, so I had to say excuse me several times to get past the line and made it over there. And to my surprise found they very sweet Jessica who used to work for PopChips. I met Jessica at a Brazen Race where I was volunteered and she was so kind to come out to my MADD Walk last year and give out PopChips. So now she is with FRS, another brand that has been super good to me in my event planning arena. Since no one could even make it down to that end of the room, Jessica gave me a 4 pack of one of their new flavors. It's kind of cool to have these contacts and to see folks on the race circuit. She said FRS is a great place to work, so I'm glad it's working out for her. I briefly look around and nothing seems of interest so I start to head out. On the way out I look through the See Jane Run merchandise, there is a nice hooded zip that I decide I need. Thankfully the woman who rings it up is very nice. Sadly they don't have any bags for merchandise. She has sent someone to get bags and says I can wait for a bag. My goody bag is pretty full and I don't think I can get the sweatshirt in there and it's still pouring outside. I wait for about 5 minutes, but it's so cramped in there and really is no god place to wait that I just say screw it and leave.

I have heard that past See Jane Run Race's have been not organized all that great, but I was hoping that by now they would have things figured out. I do believe this was their first year doing an Expo, so perhaps they will learn something from today. They could of set up bibs and timing chips at the end of the room so that the line could have filed all the way down with vendors on either side, that way vendors could have chatted and promoted their products while you were in line. Hoping that tomorrow's run is more organized but at least I already have my bib and timing chip so all I have to deal with is rain, wind and cold.

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