My Virgin Money London Marathon Expo experience

Yesterday I travelled from Baker Street to Custom House to visit the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo. Runners have to attend the Expo to collect their final instructions, race number, kit bag and timing chip.

Expo 10

I planned ahead and studied the layout (i.e. the exit) of the Expo. I knew what I needed to buy and set myself a spending budget. This enabled me to enjoy the Expo and stopped me wasting money on running gizmos I don’t need.

I arrived at the ExCeL centre soon after the Expo opened its doors on Wednesday. A few hours later I was back at Baker Street.

The journey from Baker Street to Canning Town was uneventful. At Canning Town I ignored the crowds of runners heading in the wrong direction, and jumped onto a DLR train heading towards Beckton. Three minutes later I arrived at the ExCeL centre.

I was slightly disappointed that the London Marathon music wasn’t playing as I entered the Expo.  The music was playing when I left so I guess I was just unlucky. I joined the queue to collect my number and got talking to a really friendly bloke from Striders of Croydon. I hope your knee holds up Martin!

Number queue

I had my identity checked, signed my registration form and collected my final instructions, number and kit bag. A word of warning, this year the kit bag is see-through and small. I then joined a short queue to get my timing chip activated (I still have no idea how I managed to miss this part of the process in 2008!) and headed into the main area of the Expo.

I posed with the Sporting Life marathon trophy and spent an enjoyable couple of hours wandering up and down the aisles. Although the Expo was quiet, I managed to resist the temptation to sample the various energy bars and gels that were on offer.

Marathon trophy

I located the CEP compression stand and purchased a pair of black calf sleeves. These will be tested after I’ve (hopefully) completed the marathon on Sunday. I then headed towards the exit and picked up a slightly disappointing goody bag (what happened to the free can of London Pride?) and made my way towards the London Marathon Virgin Money Lounge.

In order to escape the Expo you have to navigate through the London Marathon Virgin Money Lounge.  This area was actually great fun. I had my photo taken next to a giant replica of the 2016 medal and entered the #OneinaMillion competition. I was even brave enough to have my photo taken inside one of the photo booths.


After a couple of hours at the Expo I’d seen everything and decided to make my way back towards Baker Street. The Expo was getting busier and my knee was starting to ache. The journey back to Baker Street was quite eventful. The Jubilee Line train I caught at Canning Town got trapped behind a defective train. As a result we were stuck in the tunnel between Westminster and Green Park for over 30 minutes. Hopefully this doesn’t happen on Sunday morning!!

Now that I’ve collected my number and timing chip I feel far more relaxed about Sunday.

Did you enjoy the Virgin Money London Marathon Expo this year?

Do you prefer to collect your number, timing chip and kit bag and leave ASAP or do you prefer to spend hours mooching around the various stands?


9 thoughts on “My Virgin Money London Marathon Expo experience

  1. runningprincess78 says:

    I haven’t been down to the Expo in a few years but I love it! The music still makes me emotional even though it’s been 5 years since I ran London. I’ve also visited a few times when watching my husband run and realised you could easily spend all day there!
    Good luck tomorrow 🙂


    • Emma says:

      I find the London Marathon music really emotional and found playing it in an orchestra really challenging! I’m now regretting not buying at least one piece of official race merchandise at the Expo. Epic fail! As for my marathon experience, it was mixed! The first half was great, the second half not so great!


      • runningprincess78 says:

        You might still be able to get some merch online. I’m sure that’s what I did a few years ago.
        Playing the music in an orchestra sounds great. Maybe I’ll suggest that for the orchestra I play in!


      • Emma says:

        Thanks for the tip. I’ve had a look on the London Marathon site and some merchandise will be available to buy from May 2nd. I only really want a t-shirt to replace the tent that was included inside my goody bag. Definitely get your orchestra to play the music, it’s called ‘The Trap’ by Ron Goodwin.


  2. Maria @ runningcupcake says:

    The expo is one thing that puts me off London- I much prefer races that send the packs out, or the tiny low key races where you collect them from a gazebo in the car park on the morning of the race. Brighton had an expo last year but luckily it wasn’t too big- traipsing around the day before is not the best idea of how to rest the legs.
    I’ve never heard of having to activate a chip either- I thought they all just activated as you run over the mat at the start line.
    Good luck tomorrow and enjoy it!


    • Emma says:

      Thanks sending me some good luck vibes, I can’t say that I enjoyed all of my London Marathon experience!

      At the Expo I was just paranoid I’d catch a cold. I was aware of so many people coughing and sneezing on the Underground journey to and from the Expo.

      I much prefer having my race number sent out to me, lazy I know! Some local 10k races have started to do on the day number collection only which is a bit of a pain.

      The chip lady (I can’t think of the official title!) scanned the bar code on our race pack and then did something to the chip. Can you tell I’m not very technical!


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