I spent the second day at the RnR Chicago expo helping to run the Gatorade booth. The day was again filled with time spent talking to athletes about G Series PRO products, how best to use them during training and racing, sharing my personal experience with the various elements of the product lineup and answering miscellaneous questions.
There were a few recurring questions:
- Do any Gatorade products contain caffeine? Why or why not?
- Are Gatorade products gluten-free?
- What kind of sugars are used in Gatorade and the carb energy chews?
- As they’re labeled as a Prime product, can I use the chews during training or racing, or only beforehand?
- What are the differences between Gatorade that I buy at a supermarket or convenience store vs. the Endurance Formula
I had some entertaining conversations with folks that stopped by the booth. There was the woman who used to volunteer as a test subject at the Gatorade Sports Science Institute in Barrington, IL, at least 15 years ago. She regretted that she wasn’t able to do so any more, but was now getting back to running after many years away from the sport.
Another was with a family that stopped by for samples. They had three children, two boys and one girl, all within the ages of 9 to 13. The girl was the youngest. The parents and a grandparent had taken the kids to the expo to pick up their 5K packets, which was being held at the same time as the half-marathon. The parents were playfully encouraging competition between the two boys, while the girl was a bit shy and they said it was her first organized running race. I asked who’d go the fastest between the three, with the two boys shouting each other down about who would win. With a laugh I told them I was picking the girl to beat both of them. The parents smiled and the boys at first reacted by rolling their eyes, then looking curiously at their sister as if they’d never considered it a possibility.
I also enjoyed checking out some other vendor setups. My personal favorite was the huge carnival atmosphere that Brooks created, giving away lots of freebies that people were wearing around the expo (and that I ended up seeing on race morning). Neon-colored, retro-looking sunglasses, huge foam fingers and lots of colorful plastic medals — I thought Brooks did a great job creating a fun experience that brought people “in the door” and gave them a reason to engage with their brand.
The two-day RnR expo turned out to be a tiring and yet rewarding experience. For every person that walks by, smiles, grabs a product sample and walks off without saying a word, there were several others that would stop and chat you up. I talked to numerous people about to do their first half-marathon the next day, all of whom exuded complete enthusiasm and excitement about the event. Others were wary and hoping to avoid a very hot day, while still others were using the race as a training milestone along the way to a larger goal, including marathons, half and full Ironmans and ultramarathons.
I learned from some of the people I talked to over the expo weekend, most specifically about taking joy in the overall experience and energy of everyone. More focus on the process that got you to the starting line and less focus on the result/outcome. This isn’t to say that some of us are more motivated by competing than completing a race, but seeing the sheer appreciation and happiness that so many people had just to be healthy and ready for race day was great. I really do want to make a point of focusing more on the entire experience and the feeling of gratitude. For being healthy, active and able to participate in endurance events like this.