- 3 miles/5K, 9 miles/15K, Virtual Race
- Road Race
Hot Chocolate 15k/5k Chicago was held on Sunday, October 30. Chicago is the first stop on the 2016/17 Hot Chocolate Nationwide Tour. I've only done this race one other time maybe three years ago as it always falls on a weekend that I commit to another race. I was so happy with the weekend change this year so I could participate, and run my first ever 15k! Race day weather seemed a bit iffy. When I checked it said rain would be done by 6am, but while waiting to start in my corral we had a few bits of rain drops and drizzle, but it wasn't much or lasted too long. It was in the mid-50s with high winds now and again, mostly cloudy. Generally, perfect running weather.
+ The Expo was two days - Friday 10a–7p and Saturday 10a–6p at McCormick Place Skyline Ballroom, West Building. I went on Saturday morning - crowded, but easy to get packet. You go and scan your QR code sent in your confirmation email or from the email they send a week before the race with info. They give you your bib. Then you head over to a line of shirts - go to your shirt size line and they give you a bag with your jacket, which was a fitted jacket with hood and thumbholes. Gear check bags were on your way into the vendor area.
+ Lots of vendors at the expo - Hot Chocolate official merchandise, Fleet Feet, OOFOS, and a bunch of others. You could also sign up for one of the many RAM Racing events (SF10, Rudolph Ramble, Mag Mile, etc).
+ 2 waves for race day - wave 1 at 7:30 and wave 2 at 8:15.
+ Corrals were clearly marked as was the course.
+ I believe there were 5 aid stations - Nuun first and then water.
+ Candy/chocolate stations - there was chocolate chips, strawberry marshmallows, m&ms, and chocolate marshmallows. They were before aid stations which was nice, so you could wash it down.
+ Interesting course - running north on Columbus, west on Lower Wacker, south on Clark, east on Van Buren, south on Lake Michigan (5k turned east on Roosevelt and north on Columbus to finish) - 15k finishers went straight on, east on 31st street, north and then back on MLK Dr, east again on 31st, a small out and back before going under McCormick Tunnel, out and back around Solder Field, then you headed north on the west side of SF, under the bridge and up the hill to Columbus, and north to the finish line.
+ Mile markers and clocks at every mile.
+ Finish line included your medal and bottled water. After party in Grant Park by Petrillo Bandshell.
+ The medals are city specific and for 15k finishers only. It's a unique and fun medal for sure.
+ Finisher mug filled (blue plastic) with cup of hot chocolate, melted chocolate with dippers: Banana, Rice Krispy Treat, pretzels, marshmallow, and one other thing I don't know the name of, but they are breaded sticks with chocolate inside... if that makes sense haha.
+ Post-race included a kids zone, DJ, and merchandise to purchase.
+ Free photo downloads.
- The first mile was SO crowded. It was impossible to run your pace without bumping into people. There just wasn't enough space for the amount of people. I wasn't running for a PR, but would have been mad if I were. I don't know how this could have been helped, but there were a ton of people speeding through pushing others that should have been in a higher corral, and then slow walkers that probably should have been one corral back. Just frustrating that there had to be so much weaving and/or being stuck behind a wall of people and not being able to go the pace you want.