Chocoholic Frolic St. Paul
Chocoholic Frolic St. Paul( 2 reviews )
BradSt. Paul, Minnesota, United States
I signed up for this race because there was a Groupon deal for it. I typically don't sign up for gimmicky races like these, but the price was right, so I signed up with a few friends.
The price was the same (at least on the Groupon deal) for the 5K and the 10K, and you could switch your distance at any time. That was a nice touch. There was clearly more people signed up for the 5K, and I knew that there wasn't going to be many (if any) elite runners in the 10K.
The expo was hosted at Union Depot, and was pretty much flawless. Union Depot is a really cool, large and open area, and perfect for a race expo. This was a small expo, with just a handful of vendors, but getting in and out was easy - which is what I needed because I was in a hurry.
The swag was actually kind of nice. The "hooded sweatshirt" that we got was more like a long sleeve t-shirt with a hood, but it was fitted very nicely and it somewhat unique. It's hard to describe, and judging by other racers opinions you either loved it or you hated it. I personally liked it. The draw-string bag that we got was also pretty nice. The race bib was pretty cool and chocolate themed (not a standard Road ID bib) and even the timing chip was customized. The only gripe I have about packet pickup is that it cost $5 to park and I was there for all of 15 minutes. Perhaps they could have given out discounted or free parking for race participants.
Race morning turned out to be a little more stressful. I didn't realize how many people had signed up for the race, but it turned out to be almost 900 for the 10K alone, which was 1 hour after the 5K. This is a point-to-point race, with no parking at the finish (and no official parking areas period), so a few thousand cars had to find their own parking in downtown St. Paul. Because the 10K started later than the 5K, I decided to sleep in - which turned out to be a mistake. I got to downtown St. Paul around the time that all the 5K runners were walking to the start corral, which means streets were closed, ramps were full, and traffic was abundant. I finally found a parking ramp for $6 about 7 blocks from the start, and got to the starting corral about 45 minutes before race start (I planned on getting there over an hour before race start to see my friends in the 5K). Crisis averted.
It was cold race morning, so the fact that the race started next to Union Depot was perfect. It provided an excellent warming house for me and hundreds of other runners. About 10 minutes before race start I made my way to the front of the starting corral (I knew there wasn't many super fast runners there). One cool concept that this race offers was pre-race Zumba, which was being directed by a Zumba instructor on a megaphone from the roof of the parking ramp across the street. Everyone was dancing and shaking it out in the street, that was kind of cool.
I settled in behind the fastest pace group, and we were off. I'm not a fast runner by any stretch of the imagination, but I found myself in the lead pack right off the back. This typically isn't the case, even in smaller races, but it's unheard of for a race of this size (almost 900 participants).
The course is challenging, with rolling hills throughout the course, and one intense, steep and long uphill climb to the Wabasha Bridge. After that, it's all downhill, then flat, to the finish.
I'm not sure if my GPS was going wonky, but when I came up on the finish line, I was expecting there to be about another 0.3 miles left. My watch hadn't even hit 6 miles. I was a little confused - how could the distance be so off? I shattered my pre-race time goal by nearly 2 minutes, which was another signal to me that the course was short. It's possible my GPS went wonky going up the tunnel (the steep uphill climb) to the Wabasha Bridge, but I doubt it would be off by that much.
After the race, there was bananas and cookies along with dipping chocolate inside a warm pavilion along with water and chocolate milk.
I heard there was supposed to be chocolate handed out on the course, but apparently they ran out during the 5K because participants were taking handfuls and not abiding by Halloween etiquette and taking one piece. The race officials apologized about this on their Facebook page post-race, but a lot of participants were very upset by this.
The fact that it was short was enough for me to probably skip this race the next time around. I'm a semi-serious runner, and when a race says it's 10K, I expect it to be 6.2 miles, not 5.9.