Army Ten Miler Expo: Crazier than a Stock Market Trading Floor (especially with me there)

I spent four hours today selling running gear. Shoes, shirts, shorts, tights, bras, accessories, you name it, I hawked it. And I loved it. I know that in a previous post I mentioned how I loathed trying to get sponsors for Stone Ridge 5K because I hate the hard sell, but this was different. First, because it was a soft cell sell (anyone else thinking of Tainted Love right now?) and second because I was talking about running, which I’ve discovered I could do all day without getting even remotely bored.

I was volunteering for Potomac River Running at their booth at the Army Ten Miler Expo. (A requirement of my “deal” as a member of their racing team is to volunteer now and then. Since I had to pick up my packet for the race anyway, I figured I may as well stick around and help out.) The Expo takes place at the DC Armory next to RFK Stadium, a notoriously difficult place to get to. I left the house at 8:20, giving myself 70 minutes to make the 40 mile trip. Traffic was amazingly light on the Toll Rd and I would have reached 66 inside the Beltway before 9am. Since that part of 66 is restricted to HOV-2 before 9am, I had a choice to sit on the shoulder until 9am or exit in McLean and take the GW Parkway. Since I’m impatient, I chose the Parkway. I’m glad I did because I rarely take the road and the view of Georgetown was spectacular. Plus, there was no traffic! I breezed onto 395, then 295, and exited at the Navy Yard. Then I remembered why I hate driving to the Armory. You have to wind your way through the Capitol Hill streets and it’s slow-going, with stop lights and stop signs everywhere. I think it would be faster to stay on 295 and cross the Anacostia, then exit and cross back over to come in behind RFK. Anyone ever tried that? Anyway, I got to the Armory on time but couldn’t work out how to get to the lot and I’m pretty sure I made a couple of illegal left turns to avoid having to drive all the way around RFK stadium. Oh and I used my cell without a hands free device. Always forget when I’m driving in DC.

So, onto the Expo. After I arrived at 9:30, met Keira and Brendan at the door and got to the booth, Ray showed me how to use the credit card machine, which was basically an iTouch with a credit card app, attached to a device that spat out the receipts. The fun part was telling the customers they had to sign…with their finger! We got some interesting responses to that. Most people thought it was very cool. On my second use of the machine I forgot to press the “print receipt” button and Brendan had to come to the rescue to retrieve and print the customer’s receipt. Shortly after that incident, Ray suggested I help keep the merchandise straightened up…hmm…reassigned already!

But that was okay because it meant I got to browse through everything really, really thoroughly. I did a bang up job if I say so myself. I doubt it all looked that good after I left. Every now and then I’d grab something and shove it under the counter, with a “this is mine!” to Keira and Brendan. At one point, when Ray was reorganizing the shoes, I pointed out my second pile of stash (first had grown too large), which included two pairs of size 13s for my husband, warning him not to put them on the shelf.

Anyway, as I was saying, turns out I’m a good hawker when it comes to stuff I like, especially as I kept saying, “ooh, I really like that!” (about the women’s gear) Or, “I’m thinking about getting that for my husband” (about the men’s gear). I chatted with a guy about his blisters and made some suggestions, including using Body Glide…sale! I helped a guy find a different pair of shoes when we didn’t have Adrenalines in his size…sale! I marveled at the $3 running socks with another lady and sold her 12 pairs. Granted, the prices were awesome (50% off all clothing! $30 shoes! $3 socks!) so it wasn’t exactly difficult.

Time went by very quickly and I was sad when I had to leave. I’d been so busy I hadn’t had time to browse the Expo at all, which was a shame because it looked like there were a lot of cool booths this year. I spent a lot of time in line because I had 6 packets to pick up, including mine, and every bib required that I go to a different National Guard soldier’s booth. So I met a lot of soldiers…ha ha. They were all very pleasant and polite, as you’d expect them to be. It would be fun if just once one of them said something inappropriate…ok maybe not.

Are you running Army Ten Miler? Have you picked up your packet? Do you like the Expo? How do you get to the Armory? Be sure to visit the PRR booth if you are going Saturday. Lots of great merchandise, although I won’t be there to keep things organized so I bet it’s a mess. On the other hand, at least you’ll get a receipt.


  1. Lisa McClellan says:

    I want to do this race! it sounds fun…Good Luck this morning

  2. Expos can be completely insane to work at, I’m glad you had a fun time. Good luck on Saturday!

  3. I was there yesterday, I wonder why I didn’t see you. We probably didn’t recognize each other clean and showered (without a glass of wine in our hands). hahaha! Good luck tomorrow, have a great race!!! Maybe we’ll see each other pre or post!!

  4. I’m obsessed with expos – I live for expos!!! Wish I would have known you were working =PRR= booth – would have stopped by to say HI 🙂

    • Hey Melody…actually think I saw you across the way at the One More Mile booth but was talking to a customer and then didn’t see you when I went over to look. Congrats on your excellent time!

  5. That’s so cool, Alison!! I love that you got to have your own “stash”. 🙂 Can’t wait to see what you picked up, and congrats again on the race!!

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