***Disclaimer: I received an entry to the Hot Chocolate Dallas 15k to review 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!***
The Hot Chocolate race series is one of those of those races that I refer to as novelty races. While there’s many athletes who toe the line of this course seeking a PR, there are also several other athletes who are toeing the line for the first time, and looking for a fun themed race to start their fitness journey. Either way, the series gets people motivated and moving. Heck, it’s what got me running to begin with, I eventually ran my first HC race, the 5k in Dallas, in 2013 and had a blast.
Fast forward two years and I would eventually return in 2015,2016, AND 2017 to run the 15k. I will admit, this year I wasn’t really excited about running this race, but I knew I needed something to hold me accountable. The course hasn’t been changed and it’s not exactly the prettiest of them all. Furthermore; the expo isn’t convenient to get to if you don’t live in Dallas. It’s in fair park, closes at seven or six on Friday and no race day pick up, near downtown Dallas, and you have to pay to park. I’ve been to the expo before, it’s nothing exciting. One year I took my nephew and he had a blast playing. But still, I would have to leave work early in hopes of making it there and back with hopes of missing traffic. So I opted to have my packet mailed for $15 and saved the drama. It arrived two weeks prior and HC notified me of shipping and everything.
And the traffic, lord Jesus. HC recommends that everyone arrives at 6:00 for both races. I think this makes zero sense.
The races are 45 minutes apart and perhaps most of the traffic not only comes from the large number, but everyone trying to get there at the same time. I would imagine that the 15k has a smaller field so they should start first as opposed to the 5k. Then present staggered arrival times. I don’t see the point of having the 5k start 45 minutes earlier if you’re going to have a challenge medal. Most people, including speed walkers and this course has a time limit for the 5k, can finish in 45 minutes. So I really don’t understand the point of taunting the 15k crowd with people who are already done and trying to leave and mixing them with the 15k.
Anyways, a solid perk of this race is indoor bathrooms and waiting space in the gear check building, which is also where th expo takes place, is warm and toasty.
So about that non-changing course. It was slightly different this year. I didn’t check the maps bc I know everything and just knew it wasn’t going to change. And it really didn’t change nhch with the exception that you actually ran on Santa Fe trail which was really pretty as opposed to running on the street right next to the trail.
Overall in terms in the course it was an organized course even down the the water stops. Even though a runner will give you stank eye for referring to nuun as juice, you knew exactly what you were getting as you approached each station. From m&ms to marshmallow. HC had it covered.
And the volunteer support is unbelievable as well. Now going back to support and water stations. With the course change it meant that runners would no longer go by my favorite place and probably the true reason why I run this race so much, the whiskey house. I love this community supported stop Bc they have whiskey… and a fantastic spirit. When I first ran the 15k I was sick and was not feeling well, they encouraged me with a shot of whiskey and I swear it’s what kept me going to finish the last Fourish miles. Well… they came back for me on the trail and made my heart happy.
Sadly, this was the biggest party on the course. The post race party was lackluster again. There’s music, and merchandise for sale and that’s about it. There’s nothing really exciting about it. You get your bowl of goodies and that’s about it.
With the high price and size of this race I do expect a little bit more post race. There aren’t any vendors with fun stuff of anything out there. Sorry, but HC really needs to step their game up in this department. They do offer free race pictures as well, but photographers are only at the start and finish lines.
Like I said, it’s a good novelty race for all types of runners. You get decent swag, a well supported course, and a warm building to wait in before and after the race because February can be unpredictable. Fair Park is a central location in Dallas that’s easy to get to, but traffic coming in is a pain, but it is what it is. I don’t know for sure if I’ll run the race again Bc I’ve done it so much, but adding on a challenge medal would definitely have me signing up!