Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hot Chocolate 5K Chicago Race Review

Well, i said i would NEVER sign up again for this race and i kept that promise... however, i didn't say i wouldn't take a free bib that wasn't going to be used.  In fact, i was offered 4 free bibs over the course of 24 hours.

My friend, Jen, called me on Friday saying that she had been standing in line for packet pickup (out in the cold) for over 45 minutes.. (and it was chilly!) and she found out her sisters would not be able to run the race and asked if i wasn't 1/2 bibs that were going to waste....  thought about it.. thought how i said i would never sign up for this race again and then realized, i can't turn down a free race with a bib that was already picked up for me... so racing i was.  I know some of you might have issues with using someone elses bibs but they were going to waste and I had nothing to do that day.

Lucked out with amazing lot parking for only $11 one block from millennium park.  raced to gear check and made it to our corral with a few minutes to spare.  

Race:
The race is now downtown and runs a little mini loop similar to the marathon.   Grant Park start (with like 20 waves!) This made for a really long wait for a 5K.. I.e  you could be standing around longer than you were running... Once we got going, it ended up being great race for me and I actually 5K'ed PR'ed by 2 minutes.. of course i did as I was running on a borrowed bib.  :)  Felt like I got into a great groove very quickly and had no problem pushing through the short course.  

Breakdown:
Post Race Treats:  cold and unstirred hot chocolate, decent chocolate fondue & good dipping foods all in a plastic compartmentalized container. You might want to keep the mug but it is plastic and the cold freezes the chocolate so most people end up throwing it out.

The MAJOR problem with this race is they have the same set up and amount of runners as the Chicago Marathon but probably only 1/10 of the staff/volunteers.. Obviously, doing the math, you can see the logistical issues related to having only 10% of help for such a big event.  A lot of people argue that .. "it is a shorter race"   "there isn't much terrian to cover"  but the reality is that the majority of help is needed at the start and finish line.  Also, having 1/10 of volunteers at packet pack up can also lead to 2+ hour wait times (IN THE COLD!) when i didn't wait a second at Chicago Marathon.

I still plan on not doing this race in the future.  Way too much fuss for a 5K.   Also, to newbies (as it attracts so many!) Yes, you love the idea of running for chocolate.. yes, you get chocolate at the end but you will spend 3x (or more) time in prep making this race happen (packet pickup, race day prep, waiting, gear check)... than you will for a smaller race.  Just keep it in mind.  There are lots of other races that can be an amazing experience. 

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