People of all ages and athletic abilities are invited to attend the free Health and Fitness Expo during the Mill Race Marathon festivities.
The expo, sponsored by Columbus Regional Health, is Sept. 26-27 at The Commons.
Participants can check out the latest running shoes and bicycles, listen to a motivational speaker or gather health information to chart a new, fit lifestyle. And that’s just for starters.
Local, regional and national vendors will set up more than 20 booths on two floors of the downtown community center at Washington Street between Third and and Fourth streets. Hours will be 4 to 8 p.m. Sept. 26 and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sept. 27.
Christina McCord, a Cummins Inc. employee who has been organizing the expo, said the event will be jam-packed with things to do and see.
A special entryway is being planned near the Chaos sculpture that will set the tone for this event hosted by a city known for its architecture, McCord said.
Immediately to the right after entering, participants can stop to take a photo of their friends or family members near a large photo wall depicting the Second Street Bridge.
A hands-on activity area for children, also on the first floor, is being sponsored by Anthem Insurance.
Although the playground inside The Commons will be open during the expo and during marathon weekend, there will be no direct access from the expo to the playground for security reasons. Separate outside entries will be available for both.
Most of the vendor booths will be on the second floor, including ones selling fitness gear and providing health information.
In the Xenia Miller Conference Room, also upstairs, speakers will cover a range of topics including crosstraining, sports nutrition, triathlons, yoga for runners and jogging with your dog.
“We tried to have a mix of speakers so we would have different topics for people to enjoy,” McCord said.
Viewpoint Books of Columbus will have a table set up to sell books related to running and other health and fitness topics, including ones addressed by the speakers.
One of the speakers, Cummins employee Dave Venable, has written “Boston Bound” about his experience training for and running in the Boston Marathon, which he has completed seven times.
McCord encourages Columbus-area residents to attend the expo Sept. 26 if possible to help alleviate crowding and parking congestion caused by the out-of-town runners visiting the expo Sept. 27. Vendors will offer giveaways Sept. 26 as an added incentive.
Out-of-town visitors attending the expo can find answers about the city, including good places to dine or where to see some of the city’s most notable architecture on this or a subsequent visit.
Runners and walkers in Mill Race Marathon events will pick up their information packets at the expo. They will get T-shirts and parking passes, and be able to make last-minute changes to the event in which they plan to participate. Last-minute runners also can sign up during these times.
Parents who have children running in the Kids Fun Run at 6 p.m. Sept. 27 at Mill Race Park are encouraged to pick up their packets at the expo Sept. 26 or early in the day Sept. 27.
“This will help cut down on the long lines in the park,” said Tara Hagan, who works with Reach Health Communities, which is helping to coordinate the Fun Run, in which as many as 1,000 kids could take part.
Packet pickups will take place on the second floor of The Commons.