Beyond the finish line: Chicago Marathon Expo made visitors stars in their own “living life” videos

By Melissa Schenkman

As runners continue in recovery mode from Sunday’s Chicago Marathon, some are applying tips from the marathon’s first Abbott Health and Fitness Expo.

The exposition showcased nutrition and running products and resources  from companies around the globe and leads on future races.

Exhibits included running shoes with a forefoot strike to the ground that promotes less stress and injuries and new options in kinesio tape to help with pain to the muscle, tendons and ligaments from running, and new waterproof cases for music devices.

The Abbot Experience offered runners and spectators alike the opportunity to make their own interactive videos with music and graphics describing what “living life to the fullest” means to them. Copies of the videos were given to the participants and posted on the Abbott’s Facebook and Twitter pages. (facebook.com/abbott and @AbbottGlobal)

Michael Tate from Arkansas produced a video with his Mom.

“I saw a video of people jumping and dancing in slow-mo and we got in line. It was really cool,” Tate said. Thinking back on it now it was a really nice foreshadowing of the race when I hit mile 24. I was extremely worn out and so close to the finish, but somehow I was able to harness a boost of energy and I sprinted the last 2 miles.”

Britta Erickson first ran the Chicago Marathon six years ago. She was impressed with this year’s expo as an added attraction and the advances in running technology.

“I loved that there was a variety of companies. Everyone was so positive and helpful. People were very knowledgeable and gave concise advice with helpful pointers,” said Erickson from Denver, Colorado, who ran the race for the second time.

This was North Chicago-based Abbott’s first appearance as a debut sponsor of the expo and official sponsor the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. It has since announced that it will be the title sponsor of the World Marathon Majors in 2015, a marathon series that includes Chicago.

“We decided to sponsor the Chicago Marathon because it underscores Abbott’s commitment to helping people be proactive in their approach to health and wellness, and experience all that life has to offer. The Expo is aligned with this,” said Kathryn McKenzie, Senior Director Public Affairs Brand Communications at Abbott. “People who train for months and years – and those who support them on their journey – are testaments to the belief that people at their best health can accomplish amazing things.”

“We want to inspire people to live their best and fullest lives through good health, opening up the possibilities that come with living better and doing more,” McKenzie said.

There was also technology of the running kind with many exhibits displaying the latest in running gear.

The KT tape booth offered a place where runners could purchase tape and have it applied to their any muscle, tendon, or ligament where they felt they needed pain relief or support for the race.

“We are trying to get tape on people because it is a hard concept. Once they put it on they are believers,” said Ed Terris, KT Tape’s vice president of sales. Terris said KT tape’s durable synthetic material (instead of cotton) makes the tape stretch better, It’s 100 percent waterproof and stays on for seven to nine days, according to Terris.

Another technology came from Auria, a company that sells products for listening to music while running and other physical activities. Founder, Dave Lowry, said Auria patented technology  protects runners’ phones from moisture and runners’ safety when it comes to listening to music.

The company’s Musicbelt is waterproof with a separately sewn neoprene pouch for your phone, so that no water can get to it. An armband seals from the front, back and side, so a phone or music device is protected from moisture and cannot fall out of the armband. The company has also stepped up technology on ear bud headphones, making it possible to hear ambient sound, so that runners can simultaneously listen to music and be aware of their surroundings, Lowry said.

“The expo was really fun and I loved seeing all of the different people there. It was interesting seeing all of the different options available to me,” Tate said.

But, it was the advice that Tate received at the expo that made a difference in his marathon, he said.

“The biggest advice I got was to pace myself at the beginning. Everyone is so pumped up on adrenaline that it would be easy to go too fast too soon and burn out later on.  That definitely stuck with me during the race and I was able to pace myself fairly well at the start,” Tate said.

Photo CAPTION:  Runners and spectators alike posed for pictures in front of this Nike map of the Chicago Marathon course. Melissa Schenkman/MEDILL

Video CAPTION:   Runners and spectators of the Chicago Marathon attend the 2014 Abbott Health and Fitness Expo. Exhibits included the Abbott Experience where attendees could produce their own videos like the one on the jumbotron, demonstrations and applications of KT Tape, and new nutrition options such as PowerBar’s Protein Plus Bar.