Do it for the Chocolate!

Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Hot Chocolate 15k to
review as a 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!

Let
me just say, that I do enjoy the Hot Chocolate race series. In late 2011 I
first eyed this race for Feb. of 2012 and it is what initially motivated me to
start running. However, being a beginner runner I just could not justify paying
that much money for race, so I missed it, and I stopped running. Fast forward
about seven months, and a glow run had my attention. Understanding the thrill
of running, I was happily registered to run my first Hot Chocolate 5k race in
2013.

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This
was my 3rd year to run it, and I’m still in love with it.

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I’ll
be honest there are some aspects of this race I don’t really care for, 1. Fair
Park, 2. Traffic Parking 3. I don’t need another HC plastic finishers mug 4. I
don’t really care for chocolate. But the reality is, those are the four things
that will never change about the race, it’ll have chocolate and finishers mug,
Fair Park is the iconic place for races in Dallas, and it’s a popular race so
there will always be traffic.

Here’s
what makes the Hot Chocolate series so great.

*  
Hot
Chocolate

*  
Chocolate

*  
SWAG-
The jackets are legit

*  
Sweets
Stations

*  
Finisher
Mugs and Medals for the 15k

*  
Low
Pressure fun atmosphere

*  
Amazing
volunteers

*  
Nuun
on the course

*  
Organized
beyond all belief

*  
Hot
Chocolate branded gear to show your accomplishment year round

Now,
looking more specifically to the Dallas race here’s my observations:

Pre-Race
Communication- I personally got nothing, it made me panic about if I was
actually registered, luckily I was. I spoke to others and they had gotten
emails all week including the QR Code for packet pickup.

Packet
Pickup- Easy breezy beautiful cover girl. You can add your QR code that you get
after registration and the one they sent the week of to your Passbook. It’s a
quick scan of that and your bib and your ticket is printed out with your
assigned corral (more on that later)

Expo:
It’s a bit lack luster for me, I was in and out in 15 minutes. A few shops were
there selling shirts and decals and the official Hot Chocolate gear was up for
sale as well, 2xu which is one of the sponsors, as well as Nuun which is a
sponsor as well. A new booth was the Smart Pop people and I like them because
they had food. There are bounce houses for the kids which my nephew loved last
year. I spend more time waiting for him than driving down there and picking up
my packet. Also, Fair Park charged $5 a car to park for PPU. Lame.

Parking:
While parking is ample and moves fast once you get into the gates, getting to
the gates is nothing short of a hot mess. Expect to be sitting in line to park
for at least 30 minutes, depending on your arrival time that could be shorter
or longer, who knows. Also, it’s quite a hike to the start line so make sure
you have EVERYTHING you need before heading out so you don’t have to make the
trek back. I took selfies while walking.

image

Corrals/Gear
Check: Gear check was organized and indoors which gave runners options to
indoor bathrooms and warmth before the start. Everyone was assigned a corral
based off their expected finish time, and it was printing on the tag on your
bib. I will say I didn’t notice anyone actually checking to see if people were
in the right corrals. You could apply to be in a preferred corral by submitting
proof of time, and I was happy to be placed in the second corral, and the race
went on as scheduled and smoothly, I didn’t have to worry about weaving in and
out people at the start.

image

Course:
I really have no words, there wasn’t anything scenic about it. It’s always fun
to run through the Dallas neighborhoods, but the roads were horrible due to
construction. The volunteers at the water stops really made the course
exciting. I know many were concerned about the hills, but as an anti-hill person they weren’t bad. Each downhill was met by the uphill instantly, so you had all that momentum to move you up.

image
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Aid
Stations: They were well stocked and spaced out properly, they had Nuun and the
flavors were made known via big Nuun signs before entering the station, water,
as well as sweet treats, such as chocolate chips, marshmallows, and M&M’s.

image
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Post
Race: There’s music, bounce houses, official Hot Chocolate gear for sale, as
well as the line to get your finishers mug. The line moves very fast and they
even have bags to allow you to take home your mug without messing up your car.
There were lots of people just hanging around afterwards but I was cold and
ready to go.

image

Overall:
I would do it again. It’s just one of those races that’s fun to link up with
your friends and to have a good time. I had a blast meeting up with fellow
BibRave Pros Sarah and Sarah (still laughing) as well as a new Twitter friend
April.

image

 It’s such a low-pressure atmosphere that
any runner can truly feel comfortable running out there. The corrals help out a
lot with that so that you’re with people who at the same level as you. I will
forever recommend this race to the first timer who wants to dip their toe into
running.

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