Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hot Chocolate 15k summed up in all its stinking awful glory

Let me start off by saying that, after this race, this group was started on Facebook. Everything you've heard is true. We aren't making this stuff up. This race was awful on so many levels. Thank goodness I had company in my misery (Kara, Kari, Alyssa, and Amanda), because if I were racing alone, I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have even made it to the start line.

Before I get into the "what they did wrong" portion of this post, I'll start off with the "what they did right"s. Don't worry, the list is short. (By "they", I'm referring to Ram Racing).

(screenshots below taken from the Facebook Page Epic Fail - Hot Chocolate 5k/15k. I don't know any of those people personally).

What they did RIGHT at the DC Hot Chocolate 15k race
  • Port-o-potties. They had organized rows of them and the two times we visited, we literally waited 20 seconds at most. Around mile 7 of the race I overheard someone say, "The port-o-potties was about the only thing they did right!"

    My new best friends.

  • Heated tent. I hesitate to call this something they did right, because I'm pretty sure it was heated for the volunteers who were selling shirts and things. Since it was below freezing outside and there were 20,000+ runners, we flocked to that thing like a fly to a pile of fresh poop. It was a great way to practice getting close to all the people we'd be elbowing and tripping over in the hours to come.
  • ...and umm....that's it! I told ya it was short.

What they did WRONG at the DC Hot Chocolate 15k race (where do I even begin?!)
(disclaimer: this is my first big race, and my first race longer than a 5k, so I feel that I am completely unbiased in my opinions here, other than the opinions of the people I ran with, who confirmed that this is, in fact, not what a race is supposed to be like).
  • Late starts. There was a 5k and a 15k option for this race. The 5k was supposed to start at 7:30am and the 15k was supposed to start at 8am. Upon our arrival, over an hour before the 15k was supposed to start, the announcer was already reporting that the 5k would be "delayed 10 minutes at most". Let's just say when all is said and done, we got to the start line of the 15k 1.25 hours late.

    Eric Cole, I do not know you, but I think we'd be besties.

  • Parking. It cost $10 per car for a parking pass, ON TOP of the already ridiculous race registration fee (I'll get to that in a minute). We received an incessant amount of emails leading up to the race about how important it was to carpool and to inform them how we'd be getting to the race because they were so on top of parking they were practically making love to it and parking this and parking that and OH MY GOD THE PARKING. And then we pulled into the parking lot when we arrived and no one was even checking parking passes. Womp womp womp.
  • The cost. $45 to run a 5k and $65 to run a 15k. Self explanatory why this is on this list and not the other, especially taking into consideration all of the other things on this list.
  • Unsafe running conditions. I'm pretty sure Ram Racing's goal of this race was to steal our money and then see how many of us they could take out either as casualties of exhaust fumes, tripping on orange traffic cones and breaking our faces, or getting splattered on big rigs' front bumpers. The first five miles of the race was on a lane of a major lane. AND it was an out and back. I'll let you have a minute to let that marinate.

    Imagine this, but with a few dump trucks honking and spewing out fumes
    mixed in for good measure.

  • Dude dressed as Ronald McDonald. Was it really necessary to scare the shit out of us right at the start line? That was just wrong!

    The things nightmares are made of.

  • "National Harbor" was a lie. Like I said above, more than half the race was spent running on a highway, and then we looped around and ran more out-and-backs around back roads around buildings. We literally were near the harbor for all of a mile (and that's a very generous guestimation).

    It's pretty, right? Yeah, we wouldn't know.

  •  Holy hills! The downhills were nice, but the sick feeling I got running down them, knowing I'd be running back up them again wasn't worth it. I'm all for a mix of terrain, but they just had to throw in that extra punch to the gut, putting the finish line at the top of a hill.

I'm so glad to know that this isn't the norm for big races or I would never sign
up for one again.

There are so many more points that I didn't even touch on, but as they come to me, I'll include them in my next post about how my personal run went...carsick and having eaten nothing beforehand. It's a winner. You'll totally want to stay tuned.

The word of the day for this race experience seemed to be clusterfuck. For those who are unsure of what this word means, my favorite definition, courtesy of

A combination of things going extremely wrong in a short period of time within the same general activity -- caused by stupidity and/or ineptitude.


  1. Sorry you had such a miserable experience! At least all future races will seem much better, right?

  2. I want to hear out the shirts and the premium goodie bags.

  3. The big races are not all bad, but I do find that I have a better experience at smaller races. They're just more *personal*.

  4. Haha! Love the Ronald McDonald bit!

  5. I loved this. Thank you for reminding me about the creepy clown. :)

  6. The Ronald McDonald statement should be in the first section.

  7. Oh man that does sounds awful!!! Up a hill at the finish line, are you kidding me! So sorry you wasted money and time doing this. What a bummer, but at least you had good company. Don't give up on big races because some of them are really good! Oh and I don't know what is going on with my blogs comments. I am going to have to ditch that system I think. Ugh, thanks for letting me know!

  8. Oh and Ronald McDonald scares the crap out of me too!!

  9. I have to admit this is making me feel a little (not much) better that I had to miss the race. I think I would have had a nervous breakdown waiting in the cold. I'm glad you are already signed up for your next race because this is not what someone's first big race should be like! At least no one got hit by a semi.

  10. "So on top of parking they practically made love to it" - best description of the Ram Racing emails, ever. I like the idea of devoting a full post to just the race. Now I am upset I including something as wonderful as our sleepover in with that clusterfuck.

  11. You should also add that you lost your running hat :( After the first turn around (after losing you) I thought I saw your hat on the ground and stopped to pick it up but it wasn't yours. So I put it back down. hahaha.

  12. Everything you said is true. I ran the 15k and felt so sick at the end I didn't even want to get my fondue. Worst race I've ever run, and I've run lots.

  13. Clusterfuck indeed. When I wrote my post, I had flashbacks to the race and was in a bad mood all over again.

  14. What a horrible first race experience! That really sucks! Rest assured not all races are like will be awesome in comparison!!!!!!!!

  15. I guess - at least your racing experience can only get better? :/

    The more I hear about this race - the more horrified I am. It is entirely possible to have a SMOOTH race with 20,000+ runners, I promise.