This was my second year running Hot Chocolate Atlanta as BibRave Pro. There were a few huge improvements over last year's race that made this year great.
1) Location change. It's only a few miles away from the original start/finish area, but Centennial Park is much more accessible via public transit and generally a nicer place to start than Turner Field. There's several public bathroom locations around the park, plus the port-o-potties put out by the race so that alone kind of makes things nicer. I noticed there were a TON of potties this year and zero lines. Someone pointed out to me that this may have been leftover from the Women's March the day before, rather than race management. Regardless, it was amazing.
2) Swag: the chocolate bowl and medal were the same, but the jacket was definitely an upgrade. It's softer than last year, has a hood and thumb holes, and it's super flattering. I'll actually wear this one!
3) Expo: last year the expo was extremely crowded and there was a long line just to get inside. This year, it was much more calm, plenty of space, no lines, and I think they had more vendors. Besides navigating through the hoards of cheerleaders who also happened to be at the convention center, this was a stress free expo.
Even though the start location changed the course was similar to last year, with lots of rolling hills. Hill training is a must but know, for every uphill you get a nice downhill. I ran a 4 minutes PR over last year's race. I take one star off of aid stations because, while the chocolate and marshmallows are fun, it would be nice to have some normal race snacks as well. A gu or a pack of power beans would suffice. That said, the race runs through a variety of cool Atlanta neighborhoods, has great swag, and the management is spectacular. A must run at least once. I hope to be back next year!