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The Hot Chocolate 5k/15k Minneapolis took place on April 15, 2017 at Boom Island Park. The weather on race day proved to be a rainy one in the 60's and thankfully the rain let up near the end of the morning.
This was my first experience running the Hot Chocolate race series and my second time racing in the Twin Cities area.
Expo/Packet Pick Up: My family and I drove 5.5 hours to the race on Friday (4/14) and thanks to the packet mailing option, we didn't have to worry about making it to the expo on time. No packet pick up was allowed on race day. Packet mailing was a lifesaver for me and, for only a $15 additional cost, my race packet arrived about a week prior to race day. It was worth it for us.
Race Swag: The race packet that was mailed to my house included my race number, a Hot Chocolate 5k/15k participants' guide and the cozy Hot Chocolate full-zip hooded sweatshirt. It said safety pins were included but mine must have gotten lost! I managed to find some on race morning though :)
Race Day: I walked to the race from the Westin Hotel (about 1.5 miles from Boom Island Park) and the rain was coming down, not a torrential downpour, but enough to thoroughly soak and allow for plenty of puddles. I walked with three 5k runners and the walk over felt safe and was actually fun, minus the rain.
Upon arriving to the race, we all checked our gear right away and the process was very smooth. The gear check and the porta potties were not crowded and waiting in lines wasn't an issue. Boom Island Park was a beautiful area but the rain that morning had well-saturated the grass, making it impossible to stay dry. The 5k'ers started at 8:10 and 15k'ers were set to start at 8:50. By the time I headed to my race corral, I had accepted that being soaked was inevitable!
At the starting line, the runners were lined up according to the corrals noted their race bibs. Line up went smoothly and, aside from the soaking rain, waiting for the start was enjoyable. After some conversation and the national anthem, it was go time!
The course was an out-and-back with a decent amount of hills. We ran beside the river and I thought the view was quite scenic - a nice way to explore the city. There were some puddles to dodge but that you can blame that on the weather!
Aid Stations: There were plenty of aid stations offering water and Nuun. I was disappointed that there were no "sweet stations" with candy along the way. I was looking forward to those!
Post-Race: After crossing the finish, we received our medals immediately and continued on to the finisher's area. The Hot Chocolate medals are VERY nice quality and I like the design. Each runner had a voucher for a finisher's plastic "mug" full of treats after the race. The mug included delicious hot chocolate, a banana, apples, pretzels, cookies, marshmallows and a Rice Krispie to dip in a chocolate sauce and a wet wipe for clean up. It was SO good (and messy)!
Hanging out after the race would have been fun if the weather was more favorable. Two fellow Bibrave Pro's and I took a picture in front of a blow-up Hot Chocolate mug & marshmallows. With more pleasant weather, I would have enjoyed hanging out at the park with my family and letting the kids play on the playground. It was a beautiful place to have a race and the open grassy area would have been perfect for picnics or what-not after the race.
One huge perk of this race is that they take FREE race photos and then send them to your email post-race. I was thankful to have pictures from the race, especially since my family didn't come with to cheer me on in the rain - not to say I blame them!
Logistics: Parking was said to be hard to find at this race, so we opted to stay at the Westin Hotel in downtown Minneapolis so I could walk to and from the race (1.5 miles each way). This approach worked though we may opt for a different hotel and ride the light rail or something next time. The Westin was gorgeous and it did have a pool for the kiddos though they didn't offer continental breakfast (bummer!). Overall, dealing with the traffic downtown and finding public parking was a zoo and I would rather stay farther away from the race site next time and use Uber or the light rail to get there.
**Check out my full report & pictures here: http://www.livinglifetruth.com/2017/04/race-report-hotchocolate15k.html