Are you looking for a fun and family friendly race?
The Columbus Hot Chocolate 5k/15k race is a fantastic option. While I'm writing this review in March 2016, I'll try to remember my race experience last year. I ran the 15k distance with my 2 coworkers in November 2015.
EXPO - I don't remember getting a free t-shirt but the expo wasn't crowded at all. It was easy to get to via car or public transportation. The expo was at the Columbus Convention Center. It was a fun expo because of all the free samples (chocolate and chocolate drinks) and activities for the whole family (picture taking with a giant chocolate poster). Most importantly, you can be in and out to get your bib and don't have to worry about extremely long lines.
-- (edit) Oh yes, I did get a free shirt. It was a long sleeve shirt with "Hot Chocolate 15k/5k embedded in the front left of the shirt. It was a grey shirt with green lining.
RACE DAY -
- Get to the race at least 45 min early because I arrived 'LATE' and it felt like the cars were not moving. Once you reach downtown, cars will be BACKED UP. I fortunately live in Columbus so once I arrived downtown, I didn't drive towards downtown and the designated parking garages. I just drove towards campus (towards OSU college campus) and parked on campus by the Giant Eagle on Neil Ave. Then I walked to the race start.
- It was cold in the morning but that is a given (it was November) so my best advice is to layer up in your normal running gear. I wore Nike Dri-Fit leggings and a short and long-sleeved shirt. Of course, my body warmed up once I started running
- Try to get there early. I got there about 20 mins before the start and it was already PACKED with people. Thus, the porta potty lines to use the toilet were long but that's expected for a popular race like the Hot Chocolate race
- The race seemed to be organized very well eventhough there were a lot of people everywhere. There were different start corrals so not everyone started at the same time.
-- The course started in downtown Columbus and ran through the city then ended in downtown Columbus.
-- I really can't think of any scenic parts of the course expect downtown. We may have run through the Olentangy River Trial but I can't remember. Either way, nothing stood out to me on the race course in terms of a scenic view. running downtown was nice though.
-- I really enjoyed the cheerful crowds
-- Getting CHOCOLATE throughout the course was awesome but I didn't eat any because my legs were cramped...lol.
-- Chip timed race so you don't have to run with a watch but if you're like me, your Garmin watch is probably glued to your wrist.
END OF RACE (medals/swag)
-- I'm sure you've heard that you get some chocolate after the race. The free chocolate came in a bowl that was filled with melted chocolate (or Chocolate Fondue) and it came with snacks that you could dip the chocolate in. There was pretzels and Rice Crispy treats which you could dip the chocolate in; it was delicious
-- The medal was shaped like a chocolate bar so that was pretty cool
-- FREE photos are emailed to you after the race
-- The race website has a free video of you crossing the finish line
-- I would recommend this race for anyone looking for a fun way to get out there and exercise
-- If you run the 15k option, please train for it (unlike me who "winged it")...haha.
-- You'll have a great time especially if you love chocolate