Hot Chocolate 15K, National Harbor

by Angela on December 7, 2011

Hot Chocolate Logo This past Saturday was the DC Hot Chocolate 15K which, converted to something I can understand, is 9.3 miles.  However, according to many who ran the race, the route was technically only 9.1…not that I was complaining because I was hurting, oh, by mile 6!  But in reading Facebook comments, many did feel jipped, and I don’t blame them because it was suppose to be a 15K.  However, this was not the only thing that went wrong, unfortunately.  It seems like everything that could have gone wrong, did.

Let me set the scene.

20,000, that’s twenty thousand, registered participants all trying to make their way into National Harbor at once, with really only one main bridge to get there and no metr0 access.  Couple that with apparent accidents on the bridge and you’ve got yourself major gridlock.  Now, let’s not forget that we live near Washington DC, where any minor accident on the highway results in major gridlock.  But this seemed just like a nightmare.

I say “seemed” because my friends and I were all watching this unfold from the comforts of our hotel room.  Yes, the one thing that was done right for this race was done by us.  We drove up Friday night, checked into a hotel, walked around National Harbor, enjoyed a nice dinner, slept in a little in the morning (more than we would have if we didn’t stay the night) and stayed in the warmth of our room until the last possible minute.

And we still had to wait over an hour for the race to start.

The 5K started before the 15K, which in itself makes no sense, but even that started an hour late.  Then, from what I’m reading, the lead motorcycle took a wrong turn and the runners ran the race backwards.  This meant we couldn’t start the 15K until the course was cleared since we were running over the same route. 

And speaking of route….if we weren’t running on a major highway, we were running on a very narrow course.  Let me remind you….twenty thousand people.  I did just hear from my kids’ dentist, who also ran the race, that only about 12,000 people participated because many gave up when they were sitting in traffic, turned around and went home.  Either way, 12,000 is still a lot of people and there was a lot of extra energy spent weaving in and out of people, and stopping and starting, because of the crowds on the course.  A lot of extra energy I did not have. 

Despite all the problems, I feel for that race director.  I’m involved in our local Ribbon Run 5K/10K and appreciate the amount of work that goes into a race.  We are aiming for 2,000 participants this year, so I can’t imagine the logistical nightmare of a 20,000 participant race.  But these guys are pros at this racing business, which is why many people are angry at how poorly everything went down. 

Some positive notes about the race:

**I had fun!  Spending the evening and race day with some good girlfriends from the neighborhood was a nice getaway.  Here’s the National Harbor Christmas tree at  night:

Hot Chocolate Tree

**We got a cool jacket as part of our registration packet.  Although, the sizing ran real small so everyone was asking for larger sizes.  Maybe this was a motivation tactic….larger jacket means you must have gained weight so now you must run faster? 

Hot Chocolate jacket

**Post race we received yummy chocolate fondue and hot chocolate, sponsored by Ghirardelli (though not one piece of chocolate in the registration goodie bag, which we thought was odd).

Hot Chocolate fondue

**I completed the race.  I didn’t break any personal records or anything.  In fact, it’s probably the slowest race I’ve run (that’s a record of some sort, isn’t it?!), but I was completely undertrained so I couldn’t have expected anything better.  I was dehydrated and my calves started cramping around mile 6 or 7, so I had to slow down quite a bit, but I finished.  And as always, it was a great feeling to complete it.

If you have never experienced that “runner’s high” from completing a race, make it a New Year’s Resolution this year.  Start small, aim for a 5K (if you’re local, maybe the Ribbon Run!).  If I can do it, I know you can too.  Less than 2 years ago I could hardly run a mile, no joke.  Now look what I’ve done. 

Hot Chocolate ladies

Next up…Rock n Roll Half Marathon in March!  Deena and I will be running and raising money for my friend Kimberly’s children, who lost their Navy Seal father in Afghanistan in August.

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