Disclosure: I received a complimentary race entry for the Hot Chocolate 15k Dallas as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Good morning friends!
Have you ever run a race in the Hot Chocolate series? This was my first and I am very excited to share my experience with you! If you want to check out when there will be a race in your area, check out the Hot Chocolate 15k website.
This is going to be my more personal recap of the race – if you want the shorter, more fact based version check out my review on BibRave. If you are in it for the long version, here we go!
(P.S. I borrowed most of these pics from Erica because she was smart and wore gloves while I couldn’t feel my fingers!)
This was a piece of cake. More importantly, the communication after I signed up was also good. I got a confirmation email immediately and a couple “hype” type emails in the time between registration and the race.
For this race, there is no race morning packet pick up. There are a LOT of runners and I imagine it could get a little crazy if they tried. To get your number you had the option of attending the expo on Thursday or Friday, or paying to have it mailed. You do receive a hoodie with your number so the shipping cost is totally understandable. I live a little too far away to make it to Dallas during the expo hours but was able to send my husband to go get my stuff. He went midday so it was very easy to get in, get my number, and get out he said. As a non-runner he isn’t the most observant about what the expo did and didn’t have haha. I think he mentioned there were hot chocolate samples though, and there was deffinetly a place to try on your hoodie so you could trade sizes if needed. Given the variety in what a “Small” can look like, I always think that is a very valuable thing!
The 15k started at 8:15 which is great! I like a little later start to give my body time to wake up. That said, there were also plenty of warnings on the website that parking would get pretty crazy if you didn’t show up early. There were directions on how to get there via DART and a recommendation to get there by 6:00 if you were driving. I somehow managed to miss any traffic and got there by 5: 30, so I get REALLY good parking and I got to take an hour long nap in my car. I’d call that a win.
Even though I got the best possible parking, it was a pretty significant walk to get to the start area/gear check. It wasn’t until after the race when I saw other runners having to walk all the way across the street to additional parking lots that I realized how lucky my spot was. Long story short: if you run this race get there EARLY!
Gear check was in a heated building which was fantastic. People that live a little further north might laugh, but it was 40 degrees out and in Texas that is COLD! I was able to check my gear bag quickly and had time to hang out staying warm until it got closer to race time.
The starting corrals were well labeled….I thought. When I lined up I was sure I was in my letter corral, but when they brought in ropes to divide between the corrals (they staggered the start by 3 minutes between each group) I realized I was somehow a corral ahead of where I was supposed to be. Looking around I was far from the only one though so I didn’t fight to make it back over the rope. The one weird thing I noticed at the start is that they didn’t do the National Anthem. It is quite possible that they did it before the 5k that started about half an hour prior though and I missed it.
The course was pretty anti-climactic. This was my first race in Dallas so I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. We started at the Fairgrounds which was nice, but immediately after leaving the Fairgrounds we went under a bridge with a whole homeless encampment. There were police and plenty of other runners so I never felt like safety was really an issue, but I was not particularly impressed either. There was a short stretch of the race that went through a nice neighborhood and part was along a nice bike path, but overall it was through neighborhoods I would definetly not have felt comfortable running in alone. For those familiar with Dallas, the Fairgrounds are not in the best part of town so this may be unavoidable in order to start the race in a location with sufficient parking.
The aid stations were well manned and had both water and Nuun which were in differently colored cups and most stations had a sign ahead of time telling which cup had what drink.
They also had fun things like marshmallows, M&Ms and chocolate chips which was a cool extension of the theme.
The last half mile or so was through the parking lot of the fairgrounds which was honestly a little bit anticlimactic, but there was a good announcer at the finish and a few spectators. Right after you finished you were given your medal and a bottle of water. The medals are BIG and shiny…so of course I love it!
After the actual finish line there was a finish chute to get to the festival area and the cups of chocolate and treats. It was a fairly long walk in the cold and quiet before you got to where they were playing music and celebrating. Between that and the cold the festival area was a little lackluster compared to races I have been at in the past. A little hype between the finish and the festival might have gone a long way.
A word of warning if you run one of these races: if you get to the festival area, look before you sit! There was a LOT of spilled chocolate and quite a few people who had sat in it! Your car interior will thank you for your caution 😉
If you haven’t run a Hot Chocolate race in the past, I would definitely recommend trying one. If they were to change the course of the Dallas run I would absolutely sign up again! Overall I love the concept but didn’t love the course. The thing I was most impressed with though was really that race management did such a great job of keeping things moving seamlessly with as many runners as there were. It never felt like a massive race except at the start when you realized just how many people were lined up!
Did you run the Hot Chocolate 15k Dallas? Let me know how it went for you!
Have you run another Hot Chocolate race in a different location? What was your experience?