Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k 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!
This was my second year running the Hot Chocolate 15k in Charlotte (read about first year here). What better way to kick off this review with a big picture of the hot chocolate bowl packed with goodies for dipping. It ain’t called the Hot Chocolate 15k for nothing!
As I mentioned in my pre-race post, I couldn’t get out of work on time to reach the Expo, so I had Liz’s and my pack mailed out to us – this is such an excellent service. The packs arrived a couple of weeks before the race, and just like last year, the race shirts are amazing.
The post-race party venue was changed to First Ward Park this year, which also moved the start and finish lines. The new party location was much better. It was much more accessible, and better laid out.
Another improvement this year was the addition of some hot food. And it was so delicious. Liz and I grabbed some and stood under a toasty gas heater and chatted to some other runners for a while.
The race course changed this year. We ran outside the city (much like last year), except we used some greenway (paved trails) this time to move between neighborhoods. The Charlotte neighborhoods reminded very much of Durham, North Carolina.
I felt like the new course was also hillier than last year. When I compared the elevation gain to last years on Strava, it was indeed hillier, but not by a crazy amount.
There were plenty of aid stations on course, serving water, sports drink and chocolate! Thankfully there were porta-johns near each station, as I had to make a stop at mile 2 — and that is when I lost my 8:30/mi pacer. 😦
I came in around 3 minutes later than last year. I was hoping to see an improvement, but it wasn’t to be.
The medals were different this year. Previously every Hot Chocolate medal was the same, regardless of the city that hosted it. There was an additional “charm” added to the medal to identify the city. This year they incorporated the city name into the medal itself.
Race photos again this year were free — which is super! Who doesn’t love free race photos. I didn’t see many photographers on the course except near the finish. I don’t always look my best at the finish line. 😉
While it was free to download low-res versions of the photos, there was a $2.99 charge to download high-res copies. That is still good bang for your buck if you consider what other races charge for photos.
Liz and I stayed at the AC Hotel Charlotte City Center. It was a lovely hotel, with a fantastic rooftop bar and was only a couple of blocks from First Ward Park. I’d definitely stay there again, whether I’m racing Hot Chocolate, or just want a short city break.
There were a few other BibRave Pros racing Hot Chocolate Charlotte this year, so we all got together before the race to catch-up and take a group photo. Just look at all that Orange!