Jogger.co.uk sent intrepid running addict and reporter Rob Keeble along to the National Running Show at Birmingham NEC that took place on January 20th and 21st and he was wowed by the speech, tips and advice given by Dame Kelly Holmes. Here is his report from the event…
Most runners that have ever entered an event of a certain profile, will appreciate the ritual of attending the pre-race “expo” to pick up their race number and to perhaps seek out some last minute inspiration, tips and advice for the event itself. Some will even pick up new kit which always worries me.
I remember being at the London Marathon Expo in 2016 and was amazed at how many entrants were sizing up new running shoes, presumably for the big race just a couple of days later – a BIG no-no in my book! To change anything in your running ritual so close to a big run is really risky business and it doesn’t get any riskier than changing the very shoes you’ll be running in!
In truth whilst I tend to enjoy a pre-race expo, for me it’s more for the atmosphere rather than any practical reason and I often leave taking very little from it. I don’t buy any new kit nor do I try any of the numerous freebie energy supplements, nutrition bars, drinks etc.…that are on offer because as we’ve already established, I’m not going to change anything in my approach that close to the race.
So I was intrigued when I saw an advert in late 2017 for The National Running Show, an event that very much had the look and appeal of a pre-race expo but without the big race itself and better still, strategically placed in the middle of January a good couple of months before the running season really takes off which for me includes a marathon in mid-March.
The event pitched itself as offering 5 key things: Inspiration – boasting some talks from big names including Jo Pavey, Ben Smith and Dame Kelly Holmes, Advice re nutrition, Information on latest product and tech, Support with how to run/run better and finally in-event competitions to win stuff.
If ever there was a time to seek out more info about running & try out some new wares, this would be it I thought! So I immediately set about registering to attend and having done so early, was pleased to discover it was free for a limited time too (later registrations or those turning up on the day would have to pay £10).
After an early start I headed off taking my son William with me so we could have a bit of Father/Son time and because he has enjoyed a few running events himself and accessing the event was easy with well sign-posted and conveniently placed parking (albeit the parking itself cost £12!) and we arrived at the event.
Arriving at the exhibition hall, the event was quite a lot smaller than I had envisaged, although that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing and in fact the intimacy of the event made it easier to get around all of the exhibitors without feeling like you actually walked a marathon to do so.
We made our way straight to the main stage and Dame Kelly Holmes came out to officially open the event. More on that shortly…
Following the opening, we worked our way around the various exhibitors. The balance of the show was very good in so much that there was a healthy mix of exhibitors from different industries but all with runners and endurance sports as their target consumer.
During my visit to the National running show I visited some nutritional food/drink-based companies such as Beet it Sport, a beetroot-based organic drink company, some kit companies including Ledlenser who specialise in ultra-premium performing XEO,SEO & NEO headlamps for runners – very useful indeed at this time of year!; and running tech specialists, the most notable of which was Run 3D, who were on hand to provide clinics offering high-tech gait analysis in order to help runners gain better insight into how they run with a view to both avoiding future injury and improving performance.
There were some fun elements to the exhibition too and one of my favourites was the saucony-sponsored “Treadmill challenge”. Saucony are a running footwear company based in the US and were exhibiting today along with a treadmill which runners could run on for 2 mins starting from a gentle warm up pace and increasing to the maximum pace they could hold for a minute. All entries received a medal and the fastest of the fast got placed into a leader board. One lady I saw got up to a very impressive 15km/hr or 6’18”min/mile.
All of this was set against the back drop of speakers who were up on the stage during the day and offering advice, experience and stories of their own running history, all of which certainly left me feeling I had gleaned all I could to help further my own running “career”.
I would visit the National Running Show again and would recommend this event to my fellow runners, whatever level you’re at, to help you reach your own goals.
So back to Dame Kelly Holmes. For someone that has achieved so much, she was incredibly humble and so warm to the crowd. She spoke more of her continued pursuit of long-distance running since retiring than her professional career and what pushes her to want to succeed when the peak of her career – Gold medal Olympian – is behind her. I think that’s Dame Kelly’s story to tell, rather than me to try & re-tell here, but it was so clear that she sees running as a sport for all and her encouragement to not be afraid and to get out there and push yourself was indeed inspirational.
I’d like to share one quote of several she made, which I took away with me and I hope you will too and it’s this:
“How far do you want to push yourself?”
Rob is a runner with the Hucclecote Harriers