Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k – San Diego 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! All opinions are my own.
If you’ve been following my blog and/or social media for the last few months, you know how excited I’ve been to run the Hot Chocolate 15k! However, weather and I guess Delta airlines (more on that later) had different plans for me as I didn’t actually make it to the race. Womp, womp. 😦 😦 😦
So this review is going to be a little different than the others…
I had been training for this run for a while now since I heard the course was a little more challenging than others. Then about a month before the race I found out I needed to go back home to Mississippi to visit family. Since I only booked a month out, you can imagine what the airline fees were like. The only return date/time that wasn’t outrageous was of course March 25th at 9pm (the night before the race.) So I thought, “No big deal…I’ll just be a little tired but I’ll be fine as long as my flight isn’t delayed.” As. long. as my. flight. isn’t. delayed…
Building up to the race I tried to add more challenging elevations to my routine to prepare for the infamous hills that I had heard so much about. So I did some extra hiking in addition to some longer runs.
Potato Chip Rock
And since I knew that I would be going to a flat area for a week, I decided to run the Stairs of Death (112 stairs X 10) the day before I flew out. This turned out to be a terrible idea because I forgot my compression calf sleeves and the elevation/sitting on the plane turned my legs to Jell-O the next day. Anyway, lesson learned.
I was also able to get in a short shakeout run while in Mississippi but then I decided to rest my legs until race day.
The Hot Chocolate Expo was the Friday and Saturday before the race and they do not offer race day packet pick-up. I was pretty bummed that I was going to miss the Expo because I knew there would be lots of photo and swag opps…but luckily I had a friend who picked up my bib and extras for me. Hot Chocolate is pretty accommodating about having someone else pick up your stuff for you in the event you are unable to attend the expo. All they need is a copy of your ID (digital or printed) and they’re good to go!
From what I heard, the expo is fun…but a little crowded and parking is a pain and costs $5-$10 because it’s downtown and parking downtown can be stressful.
When I saw a picture of my bib I got even more excited! I was only a couple of days away from rolling in the chocolate!
I even picked out my race day outfit before I went out of town!
And then I looked over the race course to get an idea of what to expect on race day.
Then on Saturday I headed to the airport to catch my flight back to San Diego! I was supposed to fly out of Mississippi at 4pm but a storm came rolling through around 3pm and the flight got delayed until 5:30pm. This meant that I was going to miss my connecting flight in Atlanta. Since there were no other flights headed to San Diego, the only option they had for me was to fly out the next morning at 6am. My Hot Chocolate dreams were crushed. 😦
I still wanted to gain a sense of what the race was like so I interviewed a few of my fellow Stroller Warriors to find out their thoughts!
Rochelle: “I thought this race was very well organized from corrals to potty placement and amount of potties (weird but so important to me) to chocolate pick up and the fact they had bags to place over your mug to take it home! I thought that the swag was great! Nice jacket, medal, visor (given with code), and the mug of goodies at the end of the race. Love that pictures are free. Oh and whoever they got to run the water stations were AMAZING! They were so loud and enthusiastic handing out water and Nuun while cheering us on. I could hear them well before I could see them and that gave me an extra push to get to them for my hydration.
Not sure if there is anything I would say I disliked yes those hills were insane BUT that has given me such a sense of accomplishment.”
Christina: “I loved everything we got. Jacket, medal, chocolate!! I disliked the hills. I would definitely do it again, just not prego.”
Laura: “I personally loved them [the hills]. It made the finish more rewarding. Yes the hill after hill after hill was challenging, but it was worth it. Especially the bling, jacket & visor. I don’t think there was anything I disliked about it, it was very well put together and organized. The volunteers were great, the aid stations were always stocked. The free pictures were great too! I don’t think I would do it again only because I usually just try to do races one time but it should definitely be on everyone’s bucket list!”
Heather: “I loved that they handed out chocolate during the race 😂 I wasn’t running for time so I had fun with it and carried the chocolate with me to snack on as I ran! I disliked the traffic and parking for packet pick up and the race itself. I know there aren’t a lot of options since it’s downtown, but I’m glad I gave myself an extra hour before hand. I would totally do it again because I love the jacket and the chocolate.”
Nell: “I loved the hills. I dislike the pavement. Will not do it again…off to bigger races to chase. I loved the medal and jacket.”
Well it sounds like everyone enjoyed the race for the most part and would recommend that others run it at least once. Another thing that was kind of a bummer was that they changed the race date a couple of months before the actual race. The original race date was March 18th, but moving it to the 26th meant that it was the same day of another big race in San Diego. I think there could have been more participants had there not been a date change.
So what was the SWAG??
A cinch bag and a sweet jacket! Everyone raves about the Hot Chocolate jackets and I know that is a big incentive for some to register (it was one of my motives). They are also pretty cool about switching out sizes at the expo if needed. They are a good quality and I really love that it’s a full zip instead of a pullover! They also offer free race photos which I think is fantastic swag!
And of course, the medal!
Ahh..that beautiful medal that was so close yet so far! Well the good news is that Hot Chocolate races are happening all over the country so I’m sure I’ll have the chance to #RunforChocolate in the future!
If you’re interesting in running next year’s Hot Chocolate 15k San Diego on 3/18/18, register here.
And you can vote on next year’s Swag!
Hurry, you only have until April 5th to cast your vote! Vote here!
Did you run this year’s Hot Chocolate 15k/5k? What did you think? Share your review on Bibrave.com to help out fellow runners!