Monday, December 5, 2011

Hot Chocolate 15k: Why I Stole Chocolate

Since I do that running thing, everybody thought that this weekend’s Hot Chocolate 15k, which promised a chocolate party at the finish line, would be just perfect for me.

I agreed. So, I registered.

Oh, do I ever regret the day I did that. I could go into a massive critique of the race, but let’s just say that Jackie, Sarah and I had no idea what was in store for us as we drove to the National Harbor.

(Jackie wanted this picture because she figured nobody would believe that she had driven to a race with two other runners dressed like this.)

We foolishly thought that the worst event of the day was behind us when Sarah’s car wouldn’t start that morning. Um, no. We just ran over to my car and drove to the massive backup that was I-295 leading to the National Harbor.

Then we walked a mile and a half to the start line. And kids, that was after we paid $10 for our parking pass. We walked pretty quickly to try to make the starting time. Then, because of catastrophic organizational failure, we waited in the corrals until 70 minutes after racing time to start running.


At least it gave Sarah and I time to discuss recent poor life decisions we'd both made. And then we were sent off on the course, which may or may not have been short, to battle loose gravel paths, hairpin turns, and running against a freeway.

Rather than continuing to critique the race, let’s just do a numbers rundown:

Number of dead animals I had to run past on Indian Head Highway: 2

Number of Mack trucks I ran right next to on Indian Head Highway: 12

Number of times we tried to start Sarah’s car before jumping into my 17 year-old station wagon: At least 10

Number of Ghirardelli squares I stole at the finish line party: 20

Number of minutes I spent running: 82 (finish time 1:22:04 for an 8:49 pace)

Number of runners who got a Garmin reading of 15k or more on the course: Zero

Number of obnoxious running costumes in our car: 2

Number of times our $10 parking pass was checked: Zero

Number of miles walked between our car and the start/finish line: 3

Number of minutes Sarah and I spent discussing the 2012 racing season: At least 800

Number of times I will do this race again: Negative 14

Have you ever been to a poorly-organized race? Did you steal chocolate in revenge?


  1. Ouch. SEVENTY minutes? That's a LONG time to be waiting outside in December. Unless you're in Southern California or something. Which you were not.

    And the course just sounds like the organizers were waiting to get sued... running alongside Mack trucks? Really?

  2. I blame you.

    I think you posted about this race a while ago so I signed up because it sounded like a lot of fun. I also talked a friend into it. From picking up the packets to trying to get out of the parking lot after we finished it was one massive cluster****. I should have had the presence of mind to steal some chocolate!!

    There's a fun new FB page that's been created for the race, because RAM was deleting all the negative comments from its page.

  3. Ahahah. I love every review I've read of this race, including yours.

    I really am glad I did this one.

  4. HAHA... I love how you wrote this up!!!!

    I wish I stold chocolate too!!! We just need to organize our own chocolate run next time :)

  5. Love the costumes! Is that a figure skating outfit?

  6. Well done! Other stats:

    Number of people I saw trip over haphazardly placed orange cones: 23

    Number of freezing people who were refused hot chocolate pre-race (nevermind the fact that the race was already 45+ minutes behind schedule with not start in sight): at least 100

    Elbows taken to the ribs: At least 3

    Number of people I saw almost get hit by a truck: 2 (I'm amazed no one did!)

    Minutes I was glad to be running this race. ZERO.

  7. Man I didn't even see the chocolate squares at the finish line. I did enjoy the fondue though. But yea...otherwise epic disaster.

  8. I'm sad I missed this because MAN, would I write a great race report!

  9. Haha I went around that whole little square making sure I got a handful from each volunteer. Honestly, I'm glad I was there, if just for the story. What a mess. I still can't believe I never found you.

  10. Chocophilenyc (George)December 5, 2011 at 1:06 PM

    The 5k was no better. We waited nearly an hour to start and then had to run the course backwards. By all accounts, the 5k was actually 3.3, not 3.1 miles. One of the reasons we started late was that the incoming late 5k arrivals and 15k arrivals were directed up the 5k course (which wouldn't have been nearly as big a problem if we'd run the course in the correct direction). I heard one of the incoming runners complain to a volunteer that we should be told to move over to get out of their way. The path was already just 3 people wide and we were racing and she wanted us to move to 2 people wide. What a crazy day! I looked for you, but had forgotten to ask what you'd be wearing. I'm pretty sure I would have found you, if I'd known about the figure skating outfit! ;)

  11. I did not see chocolate squares at the finish line!!! But I rushed through my fondue and hot chocolate so I could get the eff outta there!

  12. Wow, craziness. And I think that chocolate was YOURS fair and square since you paid the registration fee.

  13. Wow that's not fun at all. Sorry you had to endure that. But at least you have lots of chocolate :) Congrats on the fast finish!

  14. It almost seems like it would have been worth it to enter this race for the story. Almost.

  15. Thank you, for bringing some humor to this situation.

    And more importantly, where did you get that skirt? I'm running a double in Disney in 4 weeks (clearly I'm crazy) and I need another awesome skirt!

  16. You guys are now an exclusive club. You should get shirts made, "I Survived the Running for Hot Chocolate 15k". Seriously, Im sorry this race was such a disaster!

  17. I'm so glad I switched down to the 5K and avoided running on the highway. But I'm not glad I spent all morning standing around freezing my butt off to run 3.1 miles. At least our course was marked properly, even if we did run it backwards :)

  18. Ugh, I've heard so much about how bad this was! I heard really good things after the Chicago one and signed up for Dallas in Feb…I hope it goes better :) Sorry it was such a disaster!

  19. Hahaaha. Haha. Hah. Sad!

    I've had a couple snafu-ed races, but nothing quite as exceptional as this. I did run a half marathon last february on the new hampshire coastline based on an advertisement of a massive chocolate feast at the end.

    Two Lindt truffles per person. That was it. I'm still pissed!

    Oooh, cute outfit, ja?;)

  20. I never made it to the race. I was in backed-up traffic at 7:48 and was going nowhere. Bummed I didn't get any chocolate.

    Your time as great!

  21. 20 pieces of chocolate can not possibly make up for that race. It's a good try though!

  22. I almost missed the chocolate squares at the finish--I should have taken more! I guess I'm lucky that I only had 1 roadkill sighting! Did you see that the Wilson Bridge Marathon folks posted that they capped their event at 4,000? Huge difference!

  23. Oh my god. That race sounds so terrible. They better give you a full refund.

  24. There was actually a Pittsburgh Yelp discussion linking to the DC yelp review of the race. Word is getting around about just how badly this was organized. I think they should do some serious damage control with free chocolate.

  25. I think I wouldn't still be angry at RAM Racing if I had stolen chocolate. :)