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Fitness Expo gets Chicago Marathon runners in the mood

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Marathon Health
& Fitness Expo

♦ 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 5;
9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Oct. 6

♦ McCormick Place Convention Center, North Building, Hall B1, 2301 S. Martin Luther King Dr.
♦ Free shuttle bus service locations:

— Downtown: Hilton Chicago, 720 S. Michigan (8th St. entrance)

— South Loop: CTA Red Line Stop serving Red, Orange and Green lines, State St. and Roosevelt Rd.

— Magnificent Mile: Nike Chicago, 669 N. Michigan, behind the store to the east on St. Clair at Erie

— Millennium Park: Fairmont Chicago, 200 N. Columbus, 1 block south of Wacker

Buses operate every 15 to 20 minutes from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 5, and from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 6

♦ For more information visit

Updated: November 6, 2012 6:05AM

Before the actual running, before the agony and ecstasy and agony, there’s the Chicago Marathon Health & Fitness Expo. This sprawling, two-day gathering (it’s free and open to the public) of race sponsors and other paying exhibitors sets up shop each October at McCormick Place just prior to the marathon. Featuring scores of booths (around 200 this year), it attracts tens of thousands of marathon participants — first-timers and world-class veterans — who show up to claim their race packets, snag goodie bags, glean last-minute information and maybe purchase an extra set of Spandex tights or sweat-wicking socks.

Charities abound, too. Want to find out more about the American Cancer Society or the Alzheimer’s Association? They’ll be on hand. So will Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG foundation, whose representatives may well field some interesting questions in light of the champion cyclist’s recent steroid scandal.

And, of course, product promotion abounds for everything from Gatorade and Clif Bar to Nike and Timex.

But while executive race day director Carey Pinkowski talks glowingly about the corporate muscle behind his multi-million-dollar event (full disclosure: the Sun-Times is a backer), he says the Expo’s “infectious” bonding aspect is equally important.

“There’s a functional piece to [the expo], obviously, and an important processing piece,” says Pinkowski, who has helmed the marathon since 1990. “But it’s the atmosphere that’s so phenomenal. We have people from all around the country and world who converge there and they connect with each other, and there’s an energy there. …They have this common goal: they’ve all prepared for the marathon, they all have this adventure in front of them.”

— Sun-Times Staff

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