Hot Chocolate 15K Race Recap: A Bad Day Running Beats a Good Day in the Office

Yesterday I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in D.C.  If you follow the #runchat hashtag on twitter – or just a lot of runners – you may have seen tweets about the how disorganized/poorly run this race was.

For the most part I have to agree. Not to spread too much negativity here, but basically it boiled down to the fact that the this event was unable to handle the 22,000 runners they allowed to register. If you want to get a sense of all of the issues an Anti Hot Chocolate 15K Facebook page has been created by angry runners (after people indicated that their negative comments were being deleted from the Official Hot Chocolate 15K Facebook page).

Traffic on the Bridge

Two groups of runners formed this morning – those who were at the start line waiting and cold, and those stuck in traffic for hours. I fell in to the latter group. Apparently 2 hours was not enough time to travel the 2 miles across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. I was nervous and upset that I was going to miss the race, but was trying to remain calm. I also knew that the race required runners to finish within a 2.5 hr time limit (15 min/mile pace), so I knew I could start over an hour late and still be okay. Luckily, there was an AWESOME radio station blasting out power ballads. Thank you BIG 100.3 for keeping me entertained and sane!

My “Sad I’m Going to Miss the Race” Face

In hindsight, I was certainly in the “better” group of runners because let me tell you how unpleasant of a person I would have been sitting outside in the cold for over an hour PAST the scheduled start time. Yah – the race was delayed over an hour due to a variety of issues! Yikes. There was also no communication between race organizers and runners about this…other than the fact that they tweeted and posted on facebook that traffic was caused by a “severe accident” – which seems to have been a lie based on what others have said. Oops! Not your finest move RAM Racing! Anyways – made it over the bridge. Parked. Headed up to the start – race was already underway…and just went! I didn’t have any time goal for this race prior to – and certainly not after no warm up/stretching. However, I felt good. Finished in 1:15:58 – an 8:09 mile pace which I was totally happy with. Wish I could have moved a bit faster, but the congestion in this race only let up for about a mile (seriously!!). Path was wayyy to narrow for that many runners. I spent all my time weaving in and out of not only other runners, but also avoiding CARS! (yah road was not all the way closed), and attempting to avoid being ran over by racers coming from the opposite direction. I was mildly unsuccessful as during the first 6 miles, this course was an out and back with not enough room for runners on either side of the traffic cones. I got NAILED by a guy easily twice my size. Ouch! Oh well. Anyways – I finished, feeling good and HAPPY to be running….and the chocolate at the end was delicious. Nice work Ghirardelli! :-).

Tasty Chocolate

After the race (and the chocolate) I ate some sweet guacamole at a restaurant in National Harbor and posed in a giant hand that was coming out of the sand. All in all successful and a great day once I got running. Are there A LOT of improvements that need to be made to this race as far as organization? YES! However, when all is said and done, I got to run in a race today, in a new place, feeling alive and strong….and you know what, I’ll take it over all of the other possible things I would have been doing instead!

I hope you all are having a great weekend! P.S. – Did any readers run Hot Chocolate yesterday?

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22 thoughts on “Hot Chocolate 15K Race Recap: A Bad Day Running Beats a Good Day in the Office

    • Tanya says:

      I totally agree with the majority of the negative complaints from the disapointing swag and high entry fee to the poor course layout and parking/traffic issues. However, at some point it kind of became laughable and at the end of the day I got to run yesterday and eat chocolate, so I will count it as a good day! 🙂

  1. Laura says:

    THANK YOU for this post!! I have read and heard more negative things about yesterday’s race than I can believe. And like you, I agree with the majority of the complaints (particularly regarding runner safety), but in the end we still got to run a race, eat some chocolate and raise money for a great charity, which people seem to be forgetting entirely. I am appalled by those asking for a refund. Why on earth should the charity this race was for in the first place be punished for poor organization on RAMs part? I understand the frustration as I was one of the thousands who froze for over an hour, but once I was moving I had plenty of fun, and am very glad I can say I completed a 15k, since that is a new feat for me. Anyways, my point was not to contribute to negativity but to say thank you so much for having a wonderful attitude about a stressful situation!
    Best of luck to you on any and all future races, and CONGRATS on a great finish time. I can only dream of running that fast one day!

    • Tanya says:

      Congrats on completing the 15K after being one of those runners stuck outside freezing at the start line for so long! I will be following your future race recaps and adventures on your blog!

  2. Brigid says:

    I ran it. I was one of those unfortunate runners who waited 2 hours in the cold. It was a most unfortunate and dangerous morning. I don’t know how that course got approved, much less for 20,000+ runners.

    • Tanya says:

      Sorry you were stuck waiting out in the cold that long. 😦 Such a bummer – and I’m sure I would not have been nearly as positive if I were in that group of runners as I hate being cold! Completely agree about that course not being appropriate for that many runners!

  3. Sandi says:

    Sorry to hear about your race. I live near Chicago and we had our Hot Chocolate race in early November. It is well organized. I think D.C. needs to contact Chicago for suggestions!

  4. Carly D. @ CarlyBananas says:

    I was one of the people out in the cold and it was just so cold. Everyone I was with has horrible back aches from standing around shivering for 2+ hours yesterday. We knew it would be cold but we really didn’t plan for the extra hours of standing around. We were miserable the whole time. I was jealous of the folks in traffic 🙂 I’m glad you had a pretty good race!

  5. Emily @ Liberty Moves says:

    Tanya, I really enjoyed your recap. I was one of the early arrivers, but I was lucky to be parked close to the race start so I could at least wait in the car for a little while. It wasn’t an ideal race by any means, but I still had fun. I appreciate your positive attitude, and I’m glad you did so well in the race!

  6. David H. says:

    I’m glad to read a different perspective on it. I know that the complaints are legitimate, but the non-constructive feedback that people are giving won’t actually help. People have short memories, so we’ll see what happens.

  7. Heather C says:

    The two groups definitely had a very different experience! i love how they claim to have updated us via twitter & facebook – I realize that some people race with their phones for music, but most of us don’t 🙂 hah, so…maybe just TELL us what’s going on? Since we’re there, n’ all.

    Anyway, I’m totally with you on the attitude about it all – still better to have run vs not, and really it was a gorgeous day for a “winter” race! That chocolate was the perfect happy ending, too. 😉

    So this was your first race in DC?? Or just at the National Harbor? Congrats on the speedy finish!

    • Tanya says:

      First DC race! I just moved to VA (Blacksburg) over the summer, so I plan to head to the capitol for more in the future. I will just make sure to avoid large ones at National Harbor! 😉

  8. Christine says:

    it. was. rough. a free for all….. i was waiting in the cold for an hour and a half at the 5k start, but the cherry on top of the entire morning was the unsafe course. it was scary!

    sounds like you had a very similar experience as far as the positive but mostly negatives go!

    congrats on finishing the race strong!

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