The National Running Show is the UK’s biggest running expo, taking place at the NEC in Birmingham. After hearing great feedback from some friends who attended the 2018 event, I was really keen to get involved this year.
My honest feedback is that it was…okay. Really, really okay. Here’s a little summary below:
- There was a superb lineup of speakers including Paula Radcliffe, Jo Pavey and Jenny Baker. I wasn’t aware of Jenny Baker prior to the expo, and hearing about her journey was really inspiring. Paula Radcliffe was a brilliant speaker of course; I was ever so keen to meet her in the VIP area but alas I’m not a VIP, and the queue was far too long.
- Based on feedback from last years show, the variety of brands was much greater this year (Saucony, Ronhill, On, 2XU, Asics etc.). Most brands were offering some fairly hefty discounts, and I was delighted to finally find a pair of running gloves that are thicker than rice paper.
- The tickets were very reasonably priced at £10, and like many others, I obtained free tickets through England Athletics.
Andddd, unfortunately, that’s about it for the pros.
- The expo was much smaller than I had anticipated, and the layout felt disjointed, making it difficult to navigate. It would have made more sense to group categories together e.g. a designated space for nutrition, a designated space for interactive activities, a designated retail space and so on.
- Although there were over 170 brands, I was hoping to see some of the larger retailers such as Adidas, Nike, etc.
- For the love of all that is holy, BRING SNACKS! The food was very pricy, which was to be expected, but this was ££££££££ (all the dollar bills).
- Upon casually browsing (stalking) the #runshow19 hashtag from the previous day, it looked like there were some great freebies on offer. In reality, I came away with a small porridge sample and a broken pen.
- I really, REALLY love running and everything to do with running, but the National Running Show just didn’t do it for me. It felt quite corporate, and there wasn’t much of a buzz. It’s worth highlighting that I attended on Sunday, and it seemed like perhaps Saturday was a better day to go in terms of the general atmosphere and excitement around the show.
Overall, I would give the National Running Show a generous 5.5/10. I would potentially consider going back next year if the organisers pull something spectacular out of the bag. The event needs to be bigger and better – more exhibitors, more relevant exhibitors, more samples and more AMBIENCE (favourite word).