Race Review: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte (Virtual Race)

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the 2021 Allstate Hot Chocolate Charlotte race 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!

The Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte virtual race was the best run of my life. #hc15k #hccharbr #hcvirtualbr #bibchat @hotchocolate15k @bibrave

The story begins around twelve weeks ago, when I embarked on a new training plan in preparation for some spring races. I started following a sixteen week plan half marathon plan, known as the “Run Less Run Faster” program.

It just so happened that in week twelve of the plan, the same weekend as the Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte race, the scheduled long run was 10 miles! This race was the perfect fit for my training schedule!

TRAINING: wearing Hot Chocolate race swag from a previous year!

The training plan has been going really well. I’ve been seeing lots of personal improvement and numerous PRs, so I knew I would at least beat my previous Hot Chocolate 15K race times.

2018 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:18 — 8:23/mi
2019 Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte — 1:21 — 8:45/mi

When I signed up for the 2021 race, it was planned to be held in Charlotte. However, it is no surprise that the race decided to move to a virtual event, due to our lingering pandemic.

TRAINING: BibRave Pro Nilesh and I at the “track”.

Most people find themselves running alone for virtual events, but I have been fortunate. I trained with fellow BibRave Pro, Nilesh, and a few of our friends signed up to run the race with us. It was like a mini race day event here in Morrisville, NC!

We planned to start the race at 7:30am on the Saturday. However, there was really cold weather predicted and we feared the greenway and bridges would be too icy to run safely. In the end, the start time was moved to 11:30am, which turned out to be a great decision.

PRE-RACE: Ready to Rock the Orange!

While still a little chilly, the conditions were excellent for a race. The sky was blue, and the sun was out. I even managed to scald my bald head when I removed my hat for a section of the route.

The route we picked was fairly flat, and wound through trees and alongside lake Crabtree. There was a little headwind at times, but nothing to complain about.

I think, due to the tree cover, the GPS signal on my Garmin was sporadic, so at times it reported I was running much slower than I needed to be! This made me work that little bit harder, and all I could think was, “how do I maintain this pace for the next x miles?!”

TRAINING: through ALL the weather — wearing 2021 Hot Chocolate Race Jacket.

To my surprise, I ended up running at an average pace of 8:00/mi, giving me a new 15K PR of 1:14:34. Also wrapped in that is a new 10K PR of 49:22!

There was definitely an extra boost provided from just running with other people — so a big thank you to Nilesh, Steve, Thelma and Purvi for that!

I’m also thankful we all still have virtual races to participate in, motivating me to keep running and training, while we wait for things to re-open in the future.

You can sign up for any of the future Hot Chocolate races and run virtually with some friends or solo. They will mail you possibly the best swag of any race. You’ll get a really, warm race jacket, a great medal and lots of hot chocolate.

If you use code BRHC20 when registering you’ll receive a free Hot Chocolate branded hat!

POST-RACE: One happy fella.

Virtual Hot Chocolate 15k (Charlotte) – 20 Feb 2021

Disclaimer: I received an entry into Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K (Charlotte) 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!

Well… Saturday is the big day! It’ll be my first race of 2021. The weather has not great this week — rain, freezing rain, followed by more rain. I ran tonight for the last time before race day. It was an easy paced 6 miles, in the rain.

I was wearing my new Hot Chocolate Jacket, so the cold was not an issue. My shoes got wet through to my socks, but I won’t be wearing those shoes on Saturday, thank goodness!

The purpose of this post was to share the course details.

Nilesh (fellow BibRave Pro) and I have been training together consistently since November, and we’ve managed to get a few of our friends to sign up as well.

We will be using a section of local greenway to cover the 15K (9.3 miles). We’ll run out and back, and finish where we started. There will be a single road crossing (each way) unfortunately, that could slow us down a little, especially now that we changed the time to 11:30am.

Isn’t that the beauty of virtual races? We can start when we want, where we want. The original plan was to start at 7:30am, but we would likely face temperatures of less than 24F and lots of ice on the wooden bridges.

My daughter, Katie, will be out on her bike to grab some photos and videos of us all. It should be a good day. Training has been very successful this season. I’ve seen vast improvements and I’m running faster now than I ever have.

I’m following the Run Less Run Faster program by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Moss. Last training season I was running 5-6 days a week. It eventually got too much and put too much strain on my body. This training season I run 3 days a week and I’m seeing better results.

Look out for a recap when the race is done.

Don’t forget you can sign up and run any Hot Chocolate city virtually. If you use code BRHC20 when registering, they will throw in a free Hot Chocolate branded hat.

Race Review: 2020 Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run 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!

I ran my virtual race today, not in Savannah, Georgia, but in Morrisville, North Carolina. Due to COVID-19, the Savannah Bridge Run was converted to a virtual event.

I didn’t have to get up super early and get ready. I didn’t have to drive anywhere and find a parking lot. I didn’t have to line up for the porta-potty three times. I didn’t have to freeze my butt off standing around for an hour waiting for the race to start.

Instead I slept in. Cut my hair. I had breakfast. I practiced some Christmas music. I had some lunch. Then I got ready to go run. I asked my daughter Katie to be my official race photographer – she agreed. I walked out the front door, stood on my driveway and started my watch.

And we were off!

Katie raced ahead on her bicycle and stopped every so often to snap photos. I didn’t have to wait long after to see my race photos. Nor did I have to pay for them. Katie simply air-dropped them to my phone.

The race itself went very well. I picked an out and back course with plenty of bridges – nothing as high or as scenic as the Talmadge Bridge in Savannah.

The weather was perfect – early 50s. I wore my BibRave long sleeve, shorts and my Buff lightweight hat, and HOKA Clifton 6 shoes.

Oh, and I PR’d on this race. That was totally unexpected. It’s funny how the mind works. I know for sure, if I was running a normal 10K I would have unlikely come home with a PR. However, tell your head that it’s a race and the body automatically works harder. Right?!

Whether my science checks out or not, I’m really happy with today’s result. Days like this keep me encouraged and provide the motivation needed to stick to the plan.

I’ve been dealing with a fear of never reaching pre-injury speeds again. This result has helped me realize that that fear is unfounded, and I can be even faster yet.

Just earlier this evening I uploaded the proof to the race website (a screenshot of my activity tracker). My race shirt and medal will be mailed out this week! I’ll post a photo when they come in.

I hope by next December I will be looking at running this race in Savannah, and across the Talmadge bridge. In the meantime, let’s all keep safe!

Race Added: Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte, NC

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k Charlotte race 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!

Guess who signed up for more chocolate? This guy 👆

YES, I’m going back to Charlotte, North Carolina to run the Hot Chocolate 15K race on the 20th February 2021.

I’ve ran this race twice now – and had I known how 2020 was going to turn out I wouldn’t have skipped it last January. I was thinking I had enough races in my calendar. Anyway

As usual, I opted to have my race swag mailed to me for an extra fee. This saves me having to stress about getting down to the EXPO on time (since it’s usually on the Friday). I’ll still plan to visit it if I can, but since I’ll have my bib already, it’s not a big deal if I can’t.

I can’t wait to visit Amelies French Bakery again for some lovely pastries and buns.

To sign up, check out the Allstate Hot Chocolate web site.

Race Added: Savannah Bridge Run, Savannah, GA

Disclaimer: I received an entry into the Enmarket Savannah Bridge Run 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!

Well, lookey here! I know I’d blogged a while back that I was only promoting this race as I wasn’t able to travel on race weekend.

Just recently the race organizers had to make the call to convert the race to virtual only. This is obviously disappointing for them, the city and many runners, but for people like myself who weren’t able to travel, it allows us to participate AND GET ALL THE BLING!

If you had already signed up, you have a few options:

  • Run the race virtually.
  • Defer to 2021, 2022, or 2023 events.
  • Donate your registration to charity.
  • Or request a full refund (minus some fees and charges).

(see faqs for detailed information)

For the virtual race, all the same options are available — 5K, 10K and Double Pump (15K). I signed up for the 10K and will plan to run the distance locally.

I can complete my race any time between October 25th – December 5th. The medal and participant shirt will be mailed out to my home about a week after the race date.

Race Highlight: The Hapalua, Hawaii’s Half Marathon

The Hapalua is the largest Half Marathon in Hawaii. There are around 10,000 runners and walkers who participate! That’s one big race and all in such a beautiful location!

Unfortunately, due to covid-19, the The Hapalua has been canceled this year. If you were registered to run, all entry fees for the 2020 Hapalua will be honored for the April 11, 2021 Hapalua.

I was fortunate to spend a little time in Hawaii last summer and get amazing some runs in. I already take excessive amounts of photos during a normal run, but running there took it to a whole new level.

Running in Hawaii, 2019

We spent a week on Maui when we visited, and we talk quite often about going back in the future. Maybe next time we go to O’ahu and run the Hapalua!

Check out the course below. I can just imagine the warm air and views of the sea the whole way around! Just like that half marathon I ran in Ireland, except for the cold wind, grey skies and gale force winds — and severe lack of palm trees. 😉

(Excuse me while I go google for software development jobs in Hawaii…)

It’s hard to believe, but the course is fairly flat, with a couple of small hills toward the end. There is even music stations at a few points on the course — I love it when races have live bands along the course. It always brings a smile to my face.

Just imagine spending a few recovery days here after completing the race. This is the small beach that was in front of our accommodation. Sea turtles would swim up and sleep here at night.

If you do decide to go and run The Hapalua, make sure you pack your snorkel gear along with your running shoes.

2020 Krispy Kreme Challenge – Race Review

Who runs 2.5 miles, eats one dozen Krispy Kreme doughnuts, and then runs another 2.5 miles to the finish — all within an hour? Not this guy…

You see, I already learnt my lesson. I just can’t eat that many doughnuts. I tried the challenge a few years ago and could only manage nine doughnuts before I’d had enough.

So this year I grabbed my box, ate two, then pushed through the crowds and ran on. In the same period, my daughter consumed five doughnuts. I’m saying nothing.

I run this race for the buzzing atmosphere, for the people in ridiculous costumes, and for the puddles-of-puke obstacle course. It’s also for a great cause, with the proceeds going to North Carolina Children’s hospital.

There was one guy, back on the course after the doughnut stop, still trying to swallow multiple doughnuts that he’d crammed in his mouth. He was running with a group of friends. I heard his friend encourage him, “Think about the kids!”, as he continued to gag.

There was two lads in a horse costume, the guy at the back running completely in the dark. I heard someone shout, “any chance of a ride?”. I bet they’d heard this a dozen times throughout the race, but they replied in good humor, “Sure, hop on! It can’t get any worse!”

One other memory is of a poor guy in a Care Bear suit. I was actually worried about him. His face was pained, red faced and he was breathing real loud and heavy. I had doubts he’d make it, but he survived. I saw him at the end.

Is really is an event for everyone!

Added: 2019 World Refugee Day 5k

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the 2019 World Refugee Day 5K Virtual Run as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

This race is so special. When I heard about the World Refugee Day 5K and the story behind it I really wanted to be involved.

The World Refugee Day 5k virtual run is inspired by the World Refugee Day 5k run that has taken place in Uganda’s Nakivale Refugee Settlement for three years.

The only requirement to enter that race is to submit an idea – any idea to better their community and lift each other up.

Due to lack of funding, the Nakivale Refugee Settlement race was at risk of being dropped. That’s where Soul Focus comes in. They felt they could not let this race fade away. The youth of the Nakivale Refugee Settlement had reported that the race helps them to feel alive, to stay fit, active and positive amidst the daily challenges they face.

So, our good friends at Soul Focus have helped to create a virtual run, where YOU can join in on the fun and help support this very real and life-changing event.

This June 20th, the third annual World Refugee Day 5k in Nakivale Refugee Settlement will unite over 1,000 runners, from 13 different nations all headed for the finish line. Refugees, Ugandans and friends from all over the world come together to celebrate what’s possible. This one of a kind run shines a light on an often forgotten place, telling a story of hope and ideas, optimism and peace.

It’s not too late to register and run your 5K (use code BR5 for $5 OFF registration). I will be running my 5K on Wednesday, June 19th.

Why I’m Missing Out On The 2019 Tar Heel 10 Miler

Disclaimer: I’m promoting the Tar Heel 10 Miler & Fleet Feet Sports 4 Miler as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!

I was really looking forward to this race.

I don’t care that rain and thunderstorms are forecast. I’ve never had to bow out of a race before. It sucks to be sitting here writing this blog post in my AirCast boot.

In 2018 I volunteered to help at one of the aid stations. It was a great experience, watching all the runners going past. Seeing the spread of runners was amazing to me — from the leaders of the pack to those running very happily along at the back. The atmosphere was so good and I was so excited when the opportunity came along to run it for BibRave in 2019.

But I’m injured.

I had to go and get injured about 7 weeks before my marathon in March, and then continue to train and run the marathon with the injury. I’d put quite a bit of effort in to that point and didn’t want to quit.

I’m not sure I recommend this approach. When I did eventually visit the doctor, about a week after the marathon, I was diagnosed with Peroneal Tendonitis in my right foot. Fortunately it was not a fracture, or something like the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis. My peroneal tendon should recover 100%, as long as I can wear the boot for 30 days.

Back To The Race.

I have friends running it, and other friends that are volunteering, and post-injury I had planned to be there as well, just to take photos and provide support, but I can’t get my boot wet. 😦

So I will be at home, wishing I were caught up in the buzz, running 10 miles through the streets of Chapel Hill, conquering Laurel Hill at mile 8, and rolling into the finish with a smile on my face.

Next year. I will be there, next year.

Let’s hear from You.

If you ran the race this year, do let us know your thoughts by writing a review on bibrave.com. Did you run the 4 miler, the 10 miler, or the DOUBLE?!

Added: The Tar Heel 10 Miler & Fleet Feet Sports 4 Mile Run (2019)

Disclaimer: I received free entry to The Tar Heel 10 Miler & Fleet Feet Sports 4 Mile Run 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!

Last year I volunteered at this race. This year I’m running it for the first time. I’ve heard so much about the Tar Heel 10 Miler and I know people who have ran it, and all they talk about Laurel Hill. More about that later. 👇

There is two races on the same day — a 10 mile run and a 4 mile run, but there’s three options when registering. You can sign up for either race OR you can sign up for both, which is known as the “Double Down 14 Mile Challenge”.

Those selecting the Double Down challenge will need to complete the 4 mile race before the 10 mile race starts, to stay in the challenge. 😲

I have signed up for the 10 mile race and I’m looking forward to running around and exploring Chapel Hill, a thriving student city in North Carolina.

I’ve been to Chapel Hill many times as my oldest son goes to University there, but I’m still not familiar with the layout of downtown. There’s nothing like a run to fix that.

The course looks amazing and there’s a good mix of downtown streets, parks and neighborhoods. I’m looking forward to this one. Hopefully I actually still enjoy running, after my marathon in March. 🤣

Laurel Hill Challenge

At mile 8.5 of the Tar Heel 10 miler is Laurel Hill. You’ll ascend 175 feet in just under one mile. Runners are encouraged to race UP the hill, as separate awards are given for the fastest times to the top!

I really hope to get out to Chapel Hill and make peace with this hill before race day. I think I can get a couple of my running buddies to sign up and train with me.

Represent Your School

If you’re local you can even represent your school and help get it to the top of the scoreboard! The top 3 schools registered (you select a school when registering if applicable) will get a t-shirt in their school colors. That is pretty neat!

Register and Save

So, don’t delay! Sign up now before the next fee increase and get 10% Off with code TARHEELBR10