Latest reviews by Jeannine Avelino

(2017)
"Paced my friends to a PB!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For the full blog post, visit my blog here: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/03/hot-chocolate-van-2017/

What’s New
I’ve run the longer distance in this event before and the biggest change is the start/finish line. It’s no longer at the Stanley Park Pavilion, instead it’s at Lumberman’s Arch. It was a short walk from the Rose Garden Bus Loop so taking transit was still a great option if you could.

The Course
The 5k course starts with an uphill heading south towards Devonian Harbour Park. We then ran around the small park and then followed the seawall back to Lumberman’s Arch. Watch out though, there’s a short uphill finish… it’s not bad, just a few meters. The 10.4k takes you all around the Stanley Park seawall and Devonian Harbour Park. No more long uphill finish like the one at the old location. That is an improvement 😛 The weather gods were kind to us on this day because it was gorgeous and sunny (but cold). It’s the perfect way to show off Stanley Park’s picturesque seawall and natural beauty.

Package Pickup and Swag
Package pickup was once again held at Lady Sport in Kitsilano on the Thursday before the race. On Friday, package pickup was in another location in Burnaby. Pickup hours seemed very limited though… 4pm til 8pm on the Thursday and 11am til 3pm on the Friday. It worked out for me but I wonder if other people had trouble finding the time to go. For those who needed race day pickup, it was available but you had to notify them ahead of time and pay a $5 fee.

The Try Events Hot Chocolate Run gives you a great bang for your buck. For about $45-65 each runner gets a nice long sleeve tech shirt, medal, ceramic mug, Tim Hortons hot chocolate at the finish, timing chip and après race snacks. That’s a lot! As an added bonus, I got a $2 discount because I had also signed up for their previous race. I won’t say no to a discount.

Would I Do It Again?
Yes! Loved the value, swag, and the great new start/finish location. I’d want to do the longer distance though. Keep up the great work, Try Events!

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(2017)
"Love the new mug!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Visit my blog for the full review: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/03/st-patricks-day-5k-2017/

I've done this race for 3 years and it's always been a blast. It is serious race that attracts elites but also a fun run. Most people get into the spirit and show up in green but going over the top is encouraged too. There's usually a lot of people dressed up in costume.

The course hasn't changed and only the roads are utilized, not the seawall. That would make it hillier so prepare for that.

Instead of beer glasses, they gave out metal beer mugs this year. Loved it, I don't have a mug like this before so this is a win. The post-race food tent is great as usual with a good selection of snacks. Unfortunately, they charge for the beer that goes into your new mug. I overheard someone say though that the rates have gone up... which is too bad.

This is always a fun event. I won't hesitate to do it again. You should definitely try it!

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(2017)
"This was my first Hot Chocolate 15k and not my last!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For a detailed account, check out the full race review on my blog: http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/03/hotchocolate15k-seattle-2017/

Registration

Registration was a breeze. I had no problems with it. I also liked that they sent weekly training emails to help you prepare and get hyped up for the race. I was also able to apply for a preferred corral using my last half marathon time. You actually have to show proof of it and if approved, they will put you in an earlier corral. A few days before race day, I received emails with links to all the important information I needed for race day including the QR code for package pickup, my corral info, and start time. They were very organized and I really appreciated that I didn't have to hunt for anything.

Package Pickup, Swag, and Other Perks

I opted to pick up my package at the expo but for out-of-towners, the option to have it mailed was there. I thought that was a great idea, but it's only open to US addresses. We got to the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall at around 4pm and there were hardly any lines. Had there been any, I bet it would've flown by really quickly since there were a good number of volunteers there. They quickly scanned the QR code from your email and handed you the bib. The bib had a gear check tag, gear check pickup tab and of course the finisher mug tab (very important).

I was then directed to pick up my goodie bag, which essentially was the hoodie. The hoodie was awesome. It's so comfortable and warm and I can see myself using it often. I can say that this is one of my favourite race swag. We then continued on throughout the expo and a number of vendors were there selling accessories, sunglasses, official Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k merchandise and other race representatives like Oiselle's The Tenacious Ten.

Nuun Hydration was also there sampling various Nuun Active flavours. I was also able to try out their new line of vitamin drinks. Of all the flavours, I loved the blueberry pomegranate and ginger lemonade the best. They are also the hydration sponsor of the Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k so runners were able to stay hydrated with various flavours of Nuun throughout the course.

There were a bunch of inflatables around the expo for photo ops, which was cool. They were also handing out chocolate drizzled marshmallows and hot chocolate in case you didn't want to wait until the next day to get a treat :P

As for race day perks... Let's start from the top. Gear check was available for runners, but I didn't use it. It looked like your gear was pre-selected to be in a specific bin (as per the tag on your bib) and you just drop it off on race day while volunteers put it in the specific box. On the course, the aid stations were frequent enough and all had Nuun and water but some Sweet Stations had marshmallows or M&M's. Race photographers were out on the course so if you're lucky, you were able to download race photos of yourself for free. If you're a spectator, you could've tracked your runner but we didn't try it out. There were timing mats at certain points so I assume, people could just look up your bib number and see if you ran a certain distance already. The medal was a big, gold chocolate bar with bite on the corner. It was a hefty medal and it looked great, I got lots of compliments on it. The finisher mug was pretty awesome too. The mug had a cup of hot chocolate, a banana, bag of pretzels, rice krispies treats, cookies, melted chocolate for dipping, and a moist towelette.

Course

Hope you like hills because you'll get lots with this course! You can't escape it. You kind of just have to suck it up and adjust your pace accordingly. If I were you, I'd do a bit of recon on the course in the days leading up to the race. Luckily, we drove along Aurora on the way to the expo so I had a sneak peek of the punishment that's coming. Don't let it discourage you, just mentally prepare and you can conquer it. I know it's easier said than done but really.. it's mostly mental. My favourite parts of the course were the downtown parts, running across the Aurora Bridge and anywhere that's a downhill lol! I ended up with 200 m of elevation gain on my Strava entry. So... yeah not flat. To add insult to injury, it's an uphill finish... which was a surprise to me.

Don't expect cheer sections. It was a little disappointing that there were only a handful of people spectating and cheering but that's ok. There was a cheer section at the top of the Aurora hill which was really cool. They gave me the boost I needed to keep going. The volunteers at the aid stations were really lively though. I appreciated their smiling faces as well as the huge marshmallows they were handing out. I felt like a cyclocross racer accepting a hand up :P

Would I Do This Again?

Yes... But I'd like to try a Hot Chocolate 15k and 5k in another city just to change things up a bit. The race is well-organized, the website was easy to navigate and had all the information I needed. What you get out of it is fantastic: the hoodie, the sweets, the finisher mug full of food and hot chocolate, the big medal, the race atmosphere... It's definitely worth it. With so many races across the US, you're bound to find one that will be convenient for you to get to.

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(2017)
"3rd Year in a Row!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For a full review, check out my blog post here:
http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2017/01/recap-try-events-chilly-chase-2017/

The Course

The Try Events Chilly Chase has something for everyone: a 5k, 10k, 15k, and a half marathon. Runners of all abilities are able to join this mostly flat and scenic course. For the second year in a row, I ran the 15k distance. You start at Olympic Village and run along the seawall to English Bay, where you branch off and run towards Lost Lagoon. You then get to do a little bit of mild trail running (mostly packed gravel) as you do a loop of Lost Lagoon and then head back to Olympic Village the same way you came from. The hills were by the Granville and Burrard bridges (slight incline) and when you branch off the seawall towards Lost Lagoon… and also on the way back from Lost Lagoon. You get to see an urban landscape and lots of natural beauty (False Creek, the beach at English Bay, Lost Lagoon, and maybe you’ll even see some ducks and Canada geese). All distances were pretty much an out and back of the same course. There’s a part where the 15k and the half branch off in different directions but later on, the half also heads back to Lost Lagoon and uses the same way back.

Review

This race is great, obviously since this is my 3rd year doing it. The course is awesome, especially on a nice day like today. Running the Vancouver seawall is always a joy. You get a pair of socks with your registration and it just so happens that the socks, logo, and medals were designed by fellow BibRave Pro Brie like the Cheese. Well done, Brie! Package Pickup was at two different shops on Friday (Kitsilano) & Saturday (Burnaby). It was a little inconvenient for me to get to but that’s because I had no car and I had to plan to get out of work early and catch some buses. Besides that, it was a quick pickup. They give you the bib, timing chip (which you had to return at the end of the race, but there were volunteers waiting with scissors at the end), the socks, safety pins & zip ties. For an additional couple bucks (I think) you can get a bag, but it’s best if you brought your own. I wish the bib was printed on higher quality paper. One corner ripped before I even left the house. Luckily, the bib stayed on the whole race. The start/finish line was conveniently located in Olympic Village which meant that good restaurants were only a short hobble away. We ended up going to Terra Breads for a croissant and a coffee. The medal is nice and smaller than the previous two years. I like that it’s a different shape. I have enough round medals lol.

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(2016)
"So much to see!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

For my full experience, check out my blog below:

http://everythingbutweddings.ca/2016/10/race-recap-rock-roll-vancouver-half-marathon-10k/

Package Pickup

I went to the expo on the Saturday after the 10K race and it wasn’t busy at all. Pickup was a breeze. I like this year’s shirt. Sorry I didn’t take a photo but it is a navy blue Brooks tech shirt with a big bright lime green V on the front and on the back it lists all the neighbourhoods we’ll be passing along the half marathon route. I think that’s pretty cool. I did buy another shirt as a souvenir in addition to the race shirt. They had some neat designs. Beyond the Brooks expo store, there really wasn’t much. Booths for other races, Garmin, Running Room (for all your last minute needs), and thank goodness there was a Nuun booth. I was out of Nuun and they had a show special that’s 2 for $15 and a free water bottle.

The Course

It’s a beautiful course, made better with the perfect overcast but cool running weather. The race starts near Coal Harbour and runs through the following neighbourhoods: historic Gastown, East Van, over the Dunsmuir Viaduct, the False Creek seawall, and through the winding roads of Stanley Park before ending on the seawall Devonian Harbour Park. There was always something pleasing to the eye, the Vancouver skyline, landmarks, water views, architecture, and of course the natural beauty of the park. Reds and yellows everywhere… a true autumn race. It’s not the easiest course. There are rolling hills in East Van before it flattens out a bit on the seawall, but once you hit Stanley Park there are more rolling hills including my nemesis, Pipeline Road. It continues to dip down and up until you merge onto the seawall by the Vancouver Rowing Club. It’s definitely not a boring race in more ways than one. If the scenery isn’t enough to distract you, the course was lined with 13 bands, about 1 every mile. I feel that it could’ve been livelier but I appreciated them being out there entertaining us. From what I hear, the 10K still only had 2 bands this year… you guys need to change that!

Post-Race

There was a controversy this year. On both race days there was NO BEER ON SITE (on both days)! WHAT? Yup, apparently they didn’t get their liquor licenses approved on time. Whether this was a Rock n Roll fault or City of Vancouver fault, that’s just unacceptable. They should’ve warned people the day before saying that this could be possible. Lots of people complained on social media about un-redeemed beer. It’s too bad. I don’t know what happened, last year they had beer without problems. Who dropped the beer glass this year? People were re-directed to a pub, Mahony and Sons, to redeem their beer ticket. Unfortunately it was only good for that day and the pub was still another 1.5 – 2 km walk from the finish area.

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