Bibrave Race Review: Hot Chocolate San Francisco

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K San Francisco 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!

Nothing says welcome to a new year like racing. I spent last weekend in San Francisco for a long weekend and the Hot Chocolate 15K. I always like going to explore while running. I took off Friday afternoon and got in around 530. In typical Spokane fashion, I flew through Seattle. After getting into SFO, I took an Uber to the South San Francisco Convention Center, since it was 3 miles from the airport. Best idea ever.

The Expo: Typical Hot Chocolate fashion. Small, but easy packet pick up. You get your bib and are assigned a number based off when you pick up your stuff. After getting your bib, you were directed to the packet pick up which involved getting your jacket and bag. Perks included being able to try on your jacket and being able to exchange in the exchange area if it was too big or small. There were local races present (Bay to Breakers), running stores, merchandise and free chocolate samples.

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Hotels for race weekend. I stayed at the Westin in Union Square. It was discounted and a shuttle stop for getting too and from the race. If you were a shopper, it’s right in the middle of the shopping district and in a nice area.  There were a few other hotels associated with the race as well that were doing discounts.

Getting to and from the race: Some parking, though limited. Shuttles were available and $9-$11 for round trip. My gripe is that they made a big deal about printing out your ticket (which means having to go to the business center and paying to print off something) and bringing it with you, and then they were never checked or collected.

Race Location: Golden Gate Park. Not going to lie, I wasn’t a fan. Here’s my thing with the Hot Chocolate Series, as I’ve done a few of their races in different cities. They have awesome cities that they go to (Chicago, San Francisco, Columbus, etc), but you don’t get to really see the city. I flew in for the race and part of it was to see a city I haven’t been to in 7 years and all I got was Golden Gate Park. Tear.

Race Day: so the state of California has been in drought conditions (read, go out for dinner and one has to ask for water because they only give it on request). Race day brought pouring rain and gusts of wind up to 30 mph. I got to the race start an hour and 45 minutes early. Another pet peeve of mine for HC 15K: the get to the race 2 hrs early recommendation. Anyways, it was raining the entire shuttle ride over to Golden Gate Park. A bunch of us went into a parking garage and hid out there until it was close to the race time. The rain was expected to the point where HC sent out an email saying there may be course adjustments but the race wouldn’t likely be cancelled the night before. What ended up happening was the 15K became 5.9 miles.

Course: All through Golden Gate Park. we lost 3.4 miles because the course was cut short and it equated to some of the high way of the course. We got to see Golden Gate Park and that was about it. Some hills, but nothing compared to the real hills of San Francisco. Water stops and stops with chocolate chips and marshmallows. Not as difficult of a course as I was expecting for San Francisco.

Post Race: After crossing the finish, I got my medal. I had to search some for water, that was all the way in the back of the chute. After I got my checked bag with dried clothes that I ended up not changing into, I went and picked up my post race food. Normally, I’d chills post race, but it was pouring rain and I was over being wet. I hopped on the shuttle back to the hotel and enjoyed my million dollar shower. It’s bad when you hang your clothes in the bathroom to dry after a race.

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Pros of this race: good running, good city, lots to do and organized

What needs improvement: show me more of the city. All I got to see was Golden Gate Park during the race. My chocolate was watered down, that was kind of sad

Hopefully I try this race next year and get a full course of it!

 

 

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15K Columbus

A little over a week ago, I was back in Columbus for the weekend for the Hot Chocolate 15K. Unlike a few days ago when it was pouring down rain, it was actually pretty nice out for the race, which is always a plus! My furball Moe the Cat got to take his first car ride for the weekend with me and hit in the back seat the entire time, but what can you do.

The Expo: I missed out on this. My mom had to be in Columbus earlier Friday and picked up our bibs and swag bags. This year’s jacket was sweatshirt like or so. Easy in and out and fairly consistent expo from what I’m told.

We stayed up in Columbus for the race. We stayed at the Hyatt Convention Center, which was <1 mile from the start. Good location for sure by the Arena District and < 1/2 mile from the finish (even better!)

The start: Off of Long and Spring street in downtown Columbus. 2 waves of people, each with ~6 corrals in each

The Course: very similar to last year. The first 2.5 miles were with the 5K, before they split off back to the finish in the arena district. The 15K spent a few miles down High Street and around OSU’s campus. This year, we were more around campus than through campus compared to last year (or so I thought). We hit OSU stadium, the Schottenstein Center and a few other must sees in Columbus. We also ran through German Village and a few other areas that were the same from last year. Finish was in the arena district, same as the 2015 race. Greeted with medals and water. Kind of a short walk to get to the post race chocolate and I hit a post race rush of people in line.

Weekend swag! #hc15k #bibchat @hotchocolate15k Columbus

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Post race, I went back to the hotel to shower and met my mom and a friend of hers back there. Love the million dollar showers for sure. Good race put on, so one could say RAM Racing has redeemed themselves some

Weekend Discounts

Please enjoy!

  1. Cleveland Marathon (May 15, 2016): 10% off with Akron16
  2. Pittsburgh 10 Miler (10/25/2015): $10 off with 10OFFEQTAKR
  3. Hot Chocolate 15K/5K (11/8/2015): $10 off with STEPUPCHICAGO through 10/4/2015

Bibrave Associated

  1. 2XU: 20% off with BIBRAVE20
  2. Wigwam: 15% off and free shipping with  10-WG615BR
  3. Buff: 10% off with BIBRAVE10 through 9/20/15
  4. Honolulu Marathon: 20% off with TOMPRO

Race Review: Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis

Disclaimer: I received entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis 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! 

**If you ran the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis, head over here on BiBrave to review it!

This weekend was my first race I ran with entry from BibRave and I couldn’t have asked for better weather! I had the opportunity to run the Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis on Saturday. I’ve run 2 previous Hot Chocolate 15Ks (DC in 2011, Columbus last November) and heading into yesterday was batting .500 with good/bad experiences (oh DC).

I flew out from Cleveland Friday morning after presenting Grand Rounds for work. I had a lay over in Chicago and was able to get some food prior to making the trip out to Minneapolis. I headed out and caught my Super Shuttle, which took me to my hotel downtown ($16 compared to a $40 cab). The bonus was that the hotel was right next to the convention center where packet pick up was. I walked over and easily found my way up packet pick up.

Come find me if you're running @hotchocolate15k Minneapolis!! #HC15K

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Something I like about Hot Chocolate 15Ks is that they send you a link with your registration that brings up your QVC. You save it on your phone (in my case, it was saved in my Passbook since I have an iPhone) and when arrive for bib pick up, they scan it and it pulls up your information. They take a bib and the sticker that is spit out from their computer with your distance (15k vs 5k) and your corral. They send you into the expo to pick up your sweatshirt jacket. Pink for women, green for men (unless your me who isn’t a pink fan, then you order a men’s jacket). I do wish they would come up with another color for the women. Just because I am a woman doesn’t mean I like pink.  The expo was small. It had some national vendors (Lara Bars, Bondi Bands i think) and one of the local running stores and a few other stations. They also gave a small hint of what to expect treat wise on course.

What you have to look forward to @hotchocolate15k tomorrow! #HC15K #bibcat #runchat

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Swag! @hotchocolate15k #hc15k Minneapolis #bibchat #runchat

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I did some exploration afterwards and found some dinner. Ultimately, I called it a night and set a bajillion alarms on my phone. I did appreciate that the 15K started at 850 AM (which was 950 AM on my Eastern Standard Time body). I woke up around 7 and put on my gear and headed out. I was going to use one of the public bike shares, but I was stopped by another runner who thought I looked like I was doing the race. We ultimately decided to split a cab and were joined by 2 college volunteers. The start was at Boom Island Park, a good 2 miles from where I was staying. We got there with plenty of time to spare, and time to use the bathrooms more than once. Most people who drove in parked on the other side of the river and walked over, others used the bike valet the race had set up.

Gotta bike? You can park it at the @hotchocolate15k start! #bibchat ##hc15k #runchat

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The 5K runners were sent off first at 810, followed by the 15K runners 40 minutes later. I personally would have done it the other way around just to get the 15K runners enough time to be done. Corrals were sent off every 2 minutes or so. The first little bit was in an industrial park or something along those lines. We got out to the street and had some turns before getting on Marshall Ave. About 1.5 miles in, we had our first water stop with chocolate marshmallows. I should really start carrying those for my long runs, because they do work. We kept chugging along passing mile 2, eventually heading across the Mississippi River. It reminded me of going over the bridges during the NYC Marathon in 2011 and the hills that came with it. After the 5K, more hydration and this time, tootsie rolls (which I passed on). We kept on down Washington Street and really didn’t get to see Minneapolis downtown until 5-6 miles in. I was moving slow for me (my own fault for too much walking the day before, and I have 3 half marathons coming up). Somewhere along the 3rd water stop after mile 5, I had water dumped on me, which was a shock to the system. I definitely enjoyed the view of the city, though I wish I would have been able to run through it. We passed the 10K mark and went out and back along another bridge before heading through some of the park and finally across the bridge back towards the start. We headed down Main St. towards Boom Island park, only to deal with what felt like a ramp with a ginormous hill on dead legs right before mile 8. We did get some fans, especially towards the end. We finally hit Booms Park and the finish, which was appreciated.

After the finish, the 15K runners were met with medals and then had about a 1/4 mile walk to the post race area where people could meet families, Ronald McDonald House had a kid zone, some vendors, and of course, chocolate.

Enjoying some post race bling and chocolate! #bibrave #bibchat #hc15k #runchat @hotchocolate15k

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After sitting for a bit, I ended up trucking 2 miles back to my hotel and enjoying a $1 million shower. I took the afternoon to enjoy some baseball (and forgot to translate the start time into CST, meaning I missed the first 2.5 innings). After church and dinner, I chilled out in the hotel before waking up for a 7:25 flight back home.

Overall, it was a decent race, however, I think a few things could be different. I think the big thing is the course/location. With the race being in Boom Island Park, there’s no easy way to get there. For people who drove, they had to park across the Mississippi River and walk over. If you biked, you had a place to leave it at the race. If you had no idea where to go, you either cabbed it over or walked in.  I didn’t really get to see Minneapolis either. I would have opted for an earlier start time and more of a traffic diversion of downtown to see the city and have it easier to get to.  I thought the post race stuff was a bit far from the finish, but there was the space to spread out. More than enough port a potties, water stops and support staff, no issues with safety at all. If you get a chance, run it!

Please don’t forget to go to Bibrave to review the race yourself!

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Register and Save!

Because why pay full price for anything?!?

  1. Kentucky Derby Marathon and Half Marathon (Louisville, Kentucky 4/25/15): 10% off with BIBKDF10. Registration ends on April 15, 2015, so hurry!
  2. Hot Chocolate 15K Minneapolis (Minneapolis, MN 4/18/2015: Free hat with registration with MINNHAT3
  3. Woodrow Wilson Half Marathon and 6K (Washington, DC 10/4/2015): 10% off with 2015CB10 through 4/30/15
  4. The Endurance Challenge Series (Ontario/Wisconsin/Utah): 15% off with BIBRAVE15
  5. Nation’s Triathlon (Washington DC, 9/13/15): $20 with CHERRY15 through 4/19/15
  6. Race for Respect 5K (Silver Spring, MD 5/30/15): $10 off with CHERRY2015 through 5/26/15

Enjoy!

Discount Monday: Happy Early Thanksgiving

Race weekends mean expos and expos usually have some discounts!

1. Pittsburgh Marathon and Half Marathon (5/2-5/3/15, Pittsburgh PA): 10% off with PHILLY10PGH15 through 11/28/14

2. Charleston Marathon (1/17/15, Charleston, SC): 10% off with PHIL14 (price increase on 12/2!!!)

3. Philadelphia Hot Chocolate 15K (4/4/15, Philadelphia, PA): Free hat with PHILLYHAT2

4. City Sports: 20% off a non sale item if a Insider Rewards Member or 10% off if not a member with MARATHON14

5. 12Ks of Christmas Holiday Run (12/13/14, Washington DC), $5 off when you go through here!

6. Route 66 Marathon and Half Marathon: Early Registration discounts to the first 400 runners.  $60 for the half marathon, $70 for the full marathon, $75 for the half/5K, $85 for the Full/5K

Hot Chocolate Columbus 15K….

…yup, you read that correctly.  I ran the HC 15K race series after I swore up and down I’d never run again due to the disaster of Hot Chocolate 15K DC in 2011.  Don’t remember said hot mess of race? Anyone who ran or attempted to run the DC race does, but head over here for that race review.  I had been searching high and low for a race this weekend leading up to the Philadelphia Full Marathon next weekend.  My mom and some of her friends have done this race the past 2 years and had nothing but decent things to say about it.  But when you’re bitter and annoyed, it’s hard to say yes.  I finally caved (with the prospect of free laundry afterwards) and signed up a few weeks ago.  The nice thing about 2 of us doing it is my mom picked up my bib and sweatshirt jacket on Friday so we could avoid the expo on Saturday

I drove to Columbus yesterday and met my mom and sister at church. We had a hotel room for the night to avoid a 45 minute drive this morning and checked in before heading to dinner in Clintonville.  Freshly made pizza for everyone before dropping my sister off at her place and heading back to watch some college football.  We turned in around 1030 and were up bright and early.  We headed over to the race and found a parking garage less than 1/4 mile from the finish (a perk after a longer run).  We jumped in the port a potty lines (or lack there of) before heading to the start, wearing trash bags to keep us warm.

We were in the first of 2 waves (with corrals being released evers 3 minutes or so).  We started on time (which was already better than the 1 hr delay of the DC race for an accident that no one could find a record of) and we were off about 10 minutes after the first gun.  The start was similar to this year’s Columbus Marathon course, which was nice since it was already familiar.  We ran along the river before heading on to High Street.  We were with the 5K runners for the first 2.5 miles, where they split off.  We continued down high street through mile 4 before heading into the OSU campus.  Obviously, students had too much fun watching the OSU game on TV yesterday and too much fun last night, because no one was out.  We ran by the football and basketball stadium, by the Vet school and crossed the river at some point.  Around the 10K mark, I was having mild flash backs to DC due to running next to the highway (in 2011, the first 4.5 miles were on an active highway).  Close to mile 7, we turned onto 5th Ave for a while before running on Neil Ave and Victorian Village.  We passed the road by my sister’s place and waved as she was in her warm apartment.  We ran around Goodale park and met up with the 5K runners again, shortly before mile 9.  The finish was in the arena district (Go Blue Jackets!) with downhill finish (I can’t complain!).  I finished in 1:30:25, not bad considering it was cold and we had flurries for part of the race.  I grabbed some water and went and enjoyed some chocolate at the finish while waiting for my mom.  We drove back to the hotel for the million dollar showers (and some left over pizza for me).

I don’t know how DC and Columbus were run by the same company, since it’s a 180* difference in how things played out.  Columbus was flawless and went out without a hitch and DC was a hot mess.  I would probably run Columbus again to be honest.  I admit, I know how to hold a grudge, but I think nearly everyone still holds a grudge against the DC race (and for that, I will not apologize for).  Bottom line, the Columbus HC 15K is a decent race!

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