Disclaimer: I received a free entry to the Hot Chocolate 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!
I kicked off my 2017 racing season with the Hot Chocolate 15K! This was my third year running this race and it did not disappoint. It was not my fastest race ever, but I had SO much fun. This race reminded me why I love running.
Disclaimer: I received a free entry to Hot Chocolate race as part of being a BibRave Pro. All opinions are my own. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
Running + chocolate sounds like a winning combo right?! IT IS! And that is exactly what you get at a Hot Chocolate run. Whether you run the 5K or the 15K distance, there is great swag, tons of chocolate and lots of fun to be had!
I was really looking forward to this race. I ran the Hot Chocolate 15K in Seattle last year for the first time and had so much fun I could not wait to go back this year. It’s a unique race and a fun experience.
Andy ran the race with me this year, so we went to the expo on Saturday. I met up with Carleeh and we had a ton of fun checking out the expo booths, busting out yoga poses and eating all the chocolate. 2XU, my favorite compression brand, is an official Hot Chocolate race partner this year. They had tons of 2XU gear at the expo. Here are some compression calf sleeves with the Hot Chocolate logo!
Since the expo is at the Seattle Center, if you have the time, you can make a day in Seattle out of it. Andy and I went over to the EMP (Experience Music Project) after to check out some exhibits and grabbed a bite to eat.
The Hot Chocolate has two different race distances, the 5K and 15K. The 5K starts an hour before the 15K; you get rewarded with more sleep for running the longer distance. 😀 The start area, corrals and gear check is really organized, so it makes race morning a breeze.
I really appreciate that the Hot Chocolate has corral starts. With so many people running, it if weren’t for the corrals, the start line would be a mess. Based on my time in last years race, they placed me in the “A” corral, the first to start! I don’t feel like I run super fast, but being in the first corral made me feel fast!
The weather was crazy. Before the race it was partly sunny and windy, then it decided to start raining. Then it stopped and got sunny again once the race started. A few miles in, a downpour started, and then it stopped. It kept cycling thru sun, wind and rain all day.
I don’t know what it was about this years race, but the miles flew by! Before I knew it, I was already half way thru the course. Maybe it was because I was familiar with the course from running last year. Or maybe it was because I have been running a lot more and my training is paying off. Or maybe it was new ON Running Cloudsurfers.
Whatever it was, I was having one of the best races ever! I went into this run with zero expectations. I hoped to run at least one second faster than last year, and halfway thru the race it was going much better than last year.
There worst part of the Seattle Hot Chocolate race is miles 4.5 to 6.2. You are running up a slow and steady incline that is a steep enough grade to be hard and you just want it to end. Once you reach the switchback, you get a nice downhill beak. I felt stronger than last year, but this part of the race is just plain hard. You are definitely rewarded for the challenge though with some great views, so it makes the climb worth it.
Once you pass the 10K mark, the last 5K goes by really quick. I don’t know if it’s because you are that much closer to chocolate or because the hardest part of the course is over. There are two more small hills, but they are manageable. You definitely earn your chocolate!
I crossed the finish line, got the super cool medal, and grabbed a few bottles of water in the finishers chute.
Andy finished shortly after I did, but unfortunately I couldn’t get out of the finishers area fast enough to see him in time.
The finisher mug is one of the best parts of the race. The chocolate fondue is DELICIOUS, I could just drink it. Last year I wasn’t a fan of the hot chocolate, but this year it was soooo good! It started raining when we got our mugs, so we took some quick pics and then went to wait for our friends to finish under cover. The chocolate was the best way to celebrate my amazing race. I set a new 10K PR and was able to maintain an 8:41/mile pace the whole race. I wasn’t sure I was capable of that, especially with all the hills, but I did it! This makes me that much more excited for the race season that is to come!
I highly recommend this race. Everything was very well organized from gear check to packet pick up to aid stations to the finish area. It is a quality race with great swag that both experienced and novice runners will enjoy. The chocolate aspect gets people excited and is a fun way to convince your friends to run or walk with you.
Are you running a Hot Chocolate 5K or 15K soon? These races are a LOT of fun! Here is everything you need to know to have a great time. The details provided here is based off information provided from the organizers at Ram Racing and my previous Hot Chocolate race experiences.
The organizers of the Hot Chocolate race series, Ram Racing, are really great about pre-race communication. As the race date gets closer, they will email event specific announcements and information to you, along with your registration confirmation, so be on the look out for those emails.
Hot Chocolate is a little different in that they do not allow you do pick up your packet on the day of the race. It makes race morning much smoother, but requires that you plan ahead. This is the norm for a lot of longer races, but not for shorter distances like the 5K. The only way around this is select “mail my packet” when you are registering and they will mail your packet to you a week before the race.
Visiting the race expo is a lot of fun. One of my favorite things is checking out new running gear & great discounts from some of the vendors. Even those not running can take advantage of this! The Hot Chocolate expos are particularly fun because there is chocolate!!! You can get your chocolate fix started early. Last year they also had an area where you could make cheer signs too which was a lot of fun.
Once you get to the expo, in order to pick up your race bib and swag bag, you must have your registration confirmation. This is emailed to you a few days before the event. A friend can pick up your bib/swag bag for you if they have a copy of your registration confirmation.
Here are the details for the expo in Seattle:
Seattle Center Exhibition Hall
305 Harrison St, Seattle, Washington 98109
Friday, March 4th, 2016 – 12pm to 6pm
Saturday, March 5th, 2016 – 9am to 5pm
There are separate start times for the 5K and the 15K. Be sure to double check what time your race starts and keep this in mind if you are traveling with someone running a different distance.
As with any race, plan on arriving early. The Hot Chocolate race is a corral start, so you will need time to park, walk to the start area and find your corral.
The times for the Seattle race are as follows:
5K – 6:45am
15K – 7:55am
In Seattle, the race starts in the Seattle Center. There is parking close (see below) but you still have to walk a ways to the start area, so be sure to give enough time for that.
This information is specific to Seattle. Ram Racing does a great job at providing this information for all their race locations. Visit www.hotchocolate15k.com for parking information specific to your race. They will most likely send you an email before the race with this information as well.
From RAM Racing:The Mercer St exit both Northbound and Southbound will be highly congested. (they were VERY congested last year, almost a complete stop, so much so I thought I might miss the start line) Consider he following alternatives:
Southbound – Pass the Mercer Street exit and exit at Exit 166 (Stewart St. / Denny Way) and approach Seattle Center via Denny Way or exit at Exit 167 (Union St) and approach Seattle Center northbound through downtown.
Northbound – Exit the freeway prior to Mercer Street and exit at Exit 164A (Dearborn St. / James St. / Madison St.) or Exit 165 (Seneca St.) and approach Seattle Center through downtown.
Parking Garage:Race day parking at Seattle Center will be available at the Mercer Street Parking Garage, the 5th Avenue North Parking Garage and the 1st Avenue North Parking Garage. Parking will be $15 per car. There are numerous other parking options in the area. Here’s a map of additional garages.City parking is also available on the streets, just be sure to check all signage, I got a ticket last time 🙁
The signature chocolate fondue that you get when you complete the race is what Hot Chocolate is famous for! Guess what? You don’t have to wait until the end of the race to start enjoying chocolate! There are chocolate/sweet stations on the course. In the past there have been tootsie rolls and chocolate chips. This year they have added marshmallows! There will be plenty of aid stations on course as well stocked with water and sports drink. There will be 1 on the 5k course, and 4 on the 15k course.
RAM Racing uses a really nice timing system for both race distances. There is no chip to put on your shoe, all the timing is done via your bib, so make sure you are wearing it correctly and that it is visible. Thru this timing system, you friends and family can sign up to get updates while you run. Whether they are meeting you at the finish line, or keeping track via their warm bed, these updates are great to keep people in the loop.
There is an option for them to get free updates via Facebook, Twitter or text message as you cross specific points on the course. All you have to do is set it up:
• Visit www.hotchocolate15k.com/seattle/tracking
• Select the runners you would like to receive updates on and how (Facebook, Twitter, or text)
• Expect updates on race day!
It’s super easy and a great way for people to cheer you on from afar or to make sure you can meet up with people after the race.
That’s it!! All that’s left to do is run for the chocolate!!!! I’ll see you at the finish line!