This is my second year running the Hot Chocolate 5k in Dallas. My first race was 2015 and I returned 2 years later in 2017. There weren't many differences over the past two years, and overall I really enjoyed the race. The expo is a medium size - larger than your local races that has packet pickup at a store, but nowhere near one of the larger organizer expos. The best part of the expo is the hot chocolate and chocolate dipped marshmallows :) The pre-race communication gives you a pickup code via email, and you can easily scan it at packet pickup. The volunteers were extremely nice and packet pickup was a breeze!
The Hot Chocolate race swag is the best! The hoodie is so soft and I much prefer it over another race shirt. The plastic oversized mug you receive at the end of the race is filled with a banana, rice krispy treat, marshmallow and biscuits to dunk in the warm dipping chocolate. Enjoying the sweet chocolatey treat after a cold race is so delicious and rewarding! The 5k racers don't receive a finisher's medal, but the 15k racers do. And racers of both distances receive FREE race photos - a rarity among race series of this size!
The course isn't exactly scenic through the Fair Park grounds. There is one overpass that accounts for the only "hill" on course. There was one aid station mid-race that was manned with adequate volunteers. The number of racers is so large that the course is packed the entire time. Despite the crowd, you can still run (or walk) at the pace that you choose.
I mostly like that this is a "fun run" that is welcoming to walkers and runners of all paces. The organizers even email out a free training plan from the time you register. I'll continue to run for chocolate!