Last week saw the return of the Virgin Money London Marathon, and it sure was a hot one. This year, we in the UK have endured extreme weather on both ends of the spectrum. From arctic conditions to blazing sunshine, us locals have often been left confused as to what might come our way next. Sunday’s race typically fell on a scorching hot day, resulting in general panic amongst runners who might have hoped for a rainy race.
With temperatures peaking at 24.1C in the capital, it was officially the hottest London Marathon ever. Those who trained in ice, sleet and snow were in for a real shock when they were tasked with 26.2 miles in soaring heat. I took part myself, and it wasn’t easy. Any hopes I had of achieving my target time quickly faded – unlike my lingering t-shirt tan – but the day itself still lived up to the hype. Who needs cool conditions anyway?
Moving on from the race day itself though, and every London Marathon week includes an exciting expo. This year was no different, and although the weather was the main topic of conversation, runners and supporters still flocked to the ExCeL in London to pick up their numbers, browse the stands, listen to some advice and soak up the pre-race excitement. This is always a busy time for runners, organisers, media and other companies.
The Aspire team went there on the Friday to network and support our client On, which also gave us the chance to take a look around at what was on offer. Knowing I was in for an almighty struggle on the Sunday, I put aside my running worries and went looking for some standout brands. If you haven’t been to the expo before, there’s an array of stands on show. It wasn’t easy picking, but these were my top five…

Garmin

Garmin is a hugely popular technology brand and is widely considered as the leading GPS watch makers in running. If you are a runner, chances are you own – or have owned – a Garmin. Offering a wide selection of models, they cater for all budgets and abilities. Their stand this year was pretty impressive, and there were a number of people buying their products on the day I was there. It’s fair to say they were always going to make this list.

SKINS

Most people will be aware of the compression clothing brand SKINS, as they have now been around for a number of years. Offering athletes base layers and accessories for before, during and after exercise, their products focus on helping muscle performance and recovery. Their stand was properly kitted out, well manned and provided a variety of items. I’m sure their heat management/cooling range sold well this year, too.

GU

This wasn’t the biggest stand on display, but you can guarantee it attracted a lot of interest. GU is a go-to brand for many runners, cyclists and sportspeople when it comes to sports nutrition. Their gels and energy products in particular have grown rapidly in popularity, with many liking the company’s unique flavour offerings. Tasty and packed with everything you could possibly want during a race, they served me well at this year’s marathon.

On

We work closely with On and it’s great to see their popularity continuing to rise amongst runners. The stand at the 2018 expo looked great, and there was a constant flow of media, shoppers and athletes checking it out. The Swiss brand offers great looking shoes that deliver a natural and high-performing ride, and the running community is now very aware of their presence. Friendly staff, top-end products, what more could you want?

Centre Stage

Okay, so this isn’t technically a brand – nor was there a stand – but the Centre Stage at the expo this year was brilliant. Featuring interviews, helpful talks, advice segments and much more, it was a great place for people to sit and take in whatever was on offer. On athlete Tim Don, who had run Boston earlier in the week, spoke on stage in the afternoon on Friday and attracted a big crowd – the stage is always an inspiring and motivational area for everybody involved!