Will Not Run For Chocolate Again

I was really looking forward to the Hot Chocolate 15K in DC, I really was.  It looked like it was going to be a good time and they threw in chocolate.  I should have known things were going to go downhill real fast a few months ago when people didn’t hear about getting seeded in the corrals after a good month.  I myself had to email in 5 different times with proof that I deserved a spot in the C Corral. There were also countless “Fun Fact Friday” emails that really weren’t fun at all, but emails explaining (or attempting to explain) how to get to the race, parking and all the pre race stuff.

Earlier in the week, I emailed a friend of mine who was also running the race and lives in DC.  Since I was leaving for DC right from work in Bethlehem, PA and it’s a good 4 hrs to DC from there and I didn’t know what time I was going to leave, I needed a back up plan to be safe.  Come Friday, I left around 445 and actually made pretty good time.  I got to DC around 9 or so (which is when the expo closed) and was able to meet up with my friend Dave who picked up my packet on Wednesday with his.  He was out for happy hour right by my hotel in Crystal City which worked out for both of us!  I did some last minute race checks and saw they were suggesting runners get on earlier shuttles so I had 5 alarms set for between 5:20 and 5:40 (the shuttles were a short walk to my hotel).  When I went through my stuff, I took a look at my jacket which was a medium like I asked for, yet it still doesn’t fit right.  I don’t understand how clothing manufactures act like women don’t have an extra part to worry about up top, I mean really!  I was expecting more than a cheap jacket and a bib in my packet- how about some freebies?? At least the bib is interesting

I woke up around 530 and got ready.  My stuff was put out the night before so it was more of get up, change and go.  I was able to hop on a shuttle pretty quickly at 6 AM and then stuff hit the fan bad.  What should have been 20 minutes point A to point B ended up being around 45 minutes.  We sat and inched along the Woodrow Wilson Bridge for a good 25 minutes.  I saw runners who were passengers getting out to run to the starting area which I would have loved to do but with no luck.  I don’t know who’s idea it was to have this thing at the National Harbor (although a good place to visit), but it was a logistical nightmare.  People who carpooled over had to have minimum 2 people in the car and each had to pay $10 at the expo and have some sort of pass showing when they got off the ramp, but not all were checked.  There was also no sort of Metro close to the Harbor.  Any race I’ve done in DC (The Cherry Blossom 10 Miler, the Suntrust Half Marathon, the MCM 10K and my parents have done the Army 10 Miler in addition) have been within walking distance to public transportation. I wonder why?!?

I was able to find a tent with a heater in it and stood close to it for awhile.  It also had volunteer sweatshirts in it. As it got closer to what should have been an 8 AM start, I snatched a sweatshirt to keep me warm while the 2 volunteers were busy and headed to the corral holding area and to the bathroom.  I also realized that they hadn’t started the 5K yet and it was 7:45 (it was suppose to start at 7:30).  I couldn’t even hear what the guy on the microphone was saying as to why there was a delay, but I figured it wasn’t going to bode well for the 15K.  I started searching Facebook and saw that people had been sitting in traffic trying to get off towards the Woodrow Wilson bridge and had been sitting for over an hour and 15 minutes, some people over 2 hrs and they had left at 5 AM!  Somehow, the 5K was pushed back to a 8:15 start so people could get to the start if they were in traffic (which they were blaming on an accident. For the record, there was no accident according to many who were stuck in traffic).  The 5K finally started at 8:15 and by then I was cold.  Any warmth in my muscles was gone…I’m glad I hajacked that sweatshirt and don’t feel bad about it one bit.  15K runners were getting annoyed and at one point, you could hear people chanting “What do we want? To run! When do we want it? NOW!”

Hot Chocolate 15K Volunteer Sweatshirt vs Cheap Jacket (back)

We were let into corrals at 8:20.  I kept texting my mom complaining on how we hadn’t started yet and I had no good reason why. I

Sample text of me complaining about a late start couldn’t hear what was being said and I was in the front of C Corral!  We waited…and waited…and waited some more.  We heard something about moving shuttle buses off course (why they were there, I don’t know) and then continuous “we’ll be starting in 15 minutes” announcements.  Come 8:50, we still hadn’t started.  I watched a good 5 people give up and leave the corral all together because they were so annoyed.  After waiting for 55 minutes, Corrals A-D and more people behind us started chanting “Let’s Go! Let’s Go!”  I had no feeling in my feet and my legs were stiff- not good if you’re a runner. At 9:04 AM we finally started.   A full 64 minutes after we were suppose to start, we finally started.  Needless to say, people started cheering (I was one of them).  After 2 straight hair pin turns, there was a water station which would be one of the aid stations after mile 5 and people were snatching water since most of us had already dug into our own supplies.

The first 5 miles were all highway.  Yes, the place where cars go a good 60 mph.  They had 2 of 3 lanes of one side blocked off for us.  The only good thing is that there was a housing complex on the side and a mom and her son were outside and the kid was in his PJs giving high 5s.  The 5K split for some reason was on the ‘out’ portion of the loop and not the back loop of the split.  What was horrible was that there were construction trucks passing us plowing off fuel which made it hard to breath.  There was also the issue of the first 5 miles being ridiculously narrow. You couldn’t get around people and it was a good 4-5 people across out and back so when you had people going both ways, it was crazy.  At water stations, there were so few volunteers, runners were grabbing or pouring their own water or gatorade.  Mile 5 took us back towards the start and miles 5.1-9.3 were going out and around the Harbor.  We ended up on the bike/ running trail which again was so narrow, it was crazy.  We ran into more water stations that were poorly staffed and volunteers yelling there was water on the next table but no one to hand it out.  The last 2 miles were along the harbor water itself so there was room for like 5 people and no place to get over without hitting stone walls or a 10 foot drop into the harbor.  I was so mad when I finally finished.  I didn’t pay for a horrible course, a race to start 64 minutes late and to have other runners get stuck in traffic for 2 hrs because it’s apparently a good idea to have 20K runners all drive themselves to a place with little parking and one way in. Did I mention the course felt about .1-.2 of a mile short??

My friend Dave, who picked up myself, had too much fun Friday night and missed the race, but I told him he didn’t miss anything which is true.  How do you not talk to race directors who work major DC races to figure out some good places to have a race??  And starting over an hour late- UNACCEPTABLE!!  The hot chocolate and ‘fondue’ at the end didn’t even make up for the race.  The volunteers got better swag then the people who actually paid for the race and overall, it wasn’t safe for the people actually running the race.

Apparently the RAM Racing people met this afternoon and we were suppose to be looking for a statement “soon” and that was 4 hours ago.  People are so frustrated and upset with today’s experience, that a group, Epic Fail- Hot Chocolate 5k/15K.  I’ve done my fair share of races (3 marathons, 13 half marathons, 4 10 mile runs and however many 10Ks) over the years and don’t expect races to be perfect, but today was unacceptable.  Apparently, 75-80% of registrants finished, but I’m not so sure about that one.

Never again RAM Racing, never again.

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About drrunner
6 time marathoner, 40 ish time 1/2 marathoner with a bucket list item to hit all 50 states. New title of BibRave Pro member so watch for discounts and products! Do what you love and love what you do!

9 Responses to Will Not Run For Chocolate Again

  1. Luann says:

    Wow what a disappointing day. Glad that you saw it through – although I know you well enough to know it’d take alot for you to bail! 🙂

    • drrunner says:

      I was considering bailing just because my legs were getting stiff because of the cold working out any heat I had worked up in them. I did meet a nice volunteer from Ohio though who was an OSU fan. At least there was one bright spot

  2. drrunner says:

    Luann, I was so close to bailing!!! I was on the phone with mom and basically said if it didn’t start within the next 10 minutes or so I was going to leave :-(. It was so bad and I’m not one to complain about races!!

  3. jenniG says:

    Could have written this post word for word!! Major fail!

  4. Did you design the blog this well with the default layout tools? Your site is incredible.

  5. Pingback: Hot Chocolate Columbus 15K…. | drrunner

  6. bain2014Bain says:

    That sounds like a cluster. Was this the first year for this location? Sounds like a lot of problems that could have been avoided–like having parking off-site and ONLY shuttles available. I do like that there isn’t a bunch of junk in the goody bag, though I agree sportswear makers need to account for actual sizes. I’m 5’10” and pretty height/weight proportionate, yet in Brooks shirts I wear XL, and in Nike the XL run shirts are actually too small. What do really extra large people do??

    • drrunner says:

      I didn’t even keep the jacket, it got donated. They only did it one year in DC. It took a long while before I did a HC race again that was last year in Columbus.

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