Latest reviews by Andrea Heser

(2018)
"The Sweetest People Watching Race"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Hot Chocolate 15k is one of the only 15k races that takes place in Arizona. That makes race day super crowded, super fun and super sweet. I ran this race in 2014 and 2015 and most recently 2018 on December 2.

Pre-race: The people behind the Hot Chocolate brand have one of the most extensive and hype-worthy social media presence out there. If you follow them on Facebook or Instagram, you’ll see they post daily. And that’s a good thing! I was totally hyped up every time I saw their posts push through. Communication on their part was excellent. They let runners know about packet pick-up and how parking will be a struggle on race day. With the Hot Chocolate Scottsdale run, please know to pick up your bib early. I did on the first day as soon as the expo opened. I was in and out quickly and still had time to browse the vendors there.

The jacket this year is incredible. It’s in a lovely, on-trend burgundy color. It’s super lightweight and oh so soft. It has a hoodie and thumb holes and pocket. It’s my favorite Hot Chocolate jacket yet. Yes, I did wear it 2 days in a row and almost wore it work over a dress.

Race day: My alarm was set much earlier than normal and I hit the road knowing the 101 freeway would have closures (I read the email from the Hot Chocolate crew) and that parking will be crowded if I didn’t arrive before 7:15am. I got to the parking lot at 6:45am, there was a long line awaiting us. The volunteers got us through quickly.

My race didn’t start till 8:15am, but the 5k started at 7:30am. I chilled out in my car for a while until my friends arrived. Since the 15k didn’t start for a while, I decided to use the porta potties. This is an area of a missed opportunity. There simply wasn’t enough potties to go around. The lines were about 50 people deep and there were 25 potties. I suggest doubling the amount for next year. Or, maybe take some of the potties from the finish line to the start line. I noticed so many empty potties at the finish.

The corals moved quickly! That was great. And I was off! The course is nice. There are a few out and backs and that’s ok. Those out and backs made it fun to people watch. So many people dress up for the Hot Chocolate and it’s really fantastic to watch everyone. Even I wore a Sparkle Athletic skirt and Christmas tights.

There was tons of water and Nuun at the aid stations. I was grateful for that. I was concerned about the Swedish Fish and gummy bears though. The cold weather made them very hard to bite into and I didn’t want to choke. The marshmallows were perfect. Maybe there could be chocolate flavored marshmallows next year.

The finish line signs were perfect. I loved how a sign said I had 500 meters to go. That made me kick it in high gear. Then 400m to go, 300m, 200m, etc. It was great. I loved how the announcer said my name as I crossed the finish line.

A volunteer quickly gave me a medal and I was off to get my spoils of the finishers chocolate mug. This is the best part really. I chugged my hot chocolate, it was the perfect temperature to do so. And starting eating my goodies after dunking them in melted chocolate.

I noticed tons of empty porta potties and huge blowups to play in or take photos with, but I was tired and wanted to go home.

Exiting the parking lot was simple, it was emptied out quickly and I’m a middle of the pack runner so there was still about 1/2 the 15k’er on course when I left.

Post-race: I love race day photos. Hot Chocolate gives them for FREE. That’s a huge bonus in my book because I will purchase mine. Also, they came the day after the race. I am so thankful for that.

Overall, I encourage you to run the Hot Chocolate Scottsdale 15k once if you haven’t already.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"The Turkey Trot With Heart"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I never ran a turkey trot before. I know, I know, I’m in the minority here. It’s difficult for me because I have lots to do on Thanksgiving morning and driving to run a race doesn’t fit. Thankful for the opportunity to virtually run the Oakland Turkey Trot through BibRave.

The Bay Area holds a special place in my heart. I lived there for about 4 years. Originally, I was born in Chicago. In 1982, my parents took me to San Jose and lived there till 1986. That is an important reason why chose to run the Oakland Turkey Trot, virtually on Thanksgiving Day. 

The Oakland Turkey Trot partnered with the Oakland Mayor’s Office, Alameda County Community Food Bank, Oakland Public Schools, and local sponsors and charities. 100% of proceeds are going straight back to the Oakland community! This is huge and another reason this was the race I chose for my first turkey trot.

They also had one of the coolest shirts designed and their #feastmode medal is pretty cool. I was impressed with the custom bib I received. See the photo I have attached to see the outfit I ran in on Thanksgiving morning.

I would have loved to actually run in Oakland around Lake Merritt. The course looks so pretty.

It was awesome how responsive Oakland Turkey Trot was on social media, especially Instagram. They posted a ton and liked my posts as well as shared some of posts and IG stories on their stories. It felt good to see that and get acknowledged.

If you want to run a fun turkey trot with a whole lot of heart, then choose the Oakland Turkey Trot.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"💀🔥The Hills Have Thighs 🔥💀"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Are you in the mood for an October Halloween trick that gives major treat at the same time?
Seriously, the Phoenix Craft Classic is the race you need to sign up for. But, you better be hill training over the summer. Just sayin'! 💀🔥The Hills Have Thighs 🔥💀Bahahahaha!

This is my second year pacing this half marathon and even though it's one heck of a killer 13.1, it's totally worth it. Here are my favorite and most spooky parts:

• Hills • They are HARD! The first 1-3 miles start off as sweet rolling hills around the big fountain of Fountain Hills, AZ. It was on during some parts of the race and it was pretty to see. The hills give you a great veiw of the beautiful scenery! Saguaro and vast mountain ranges can be seen for miles. This view comes with a price though. Miles 4-7.5 are a beast! This is where you get your elevation gain and you'll be glad you hill-trained for this. Then come mile 8 and it's all downhill. But don't get your hopes up high yet. Don't trash your quads either LOL cause on mile 11 the hills are back for the last 2.1 and even though they are small, you'll be tired. Train smart and you will conquer this course!

• Swag • The medal was sweet this year! It's a huge bottle cap with a bottle opener on the end. Also, it has magnets on the back so you can attach for easy access. The design of the t-shirt was modern. You also got a sweet beer-can shaped glass during packet pick-up! If you are into hops, then you'll appricate the cold beer at the finish line. The finish line also included Kind bars, pretzles & cold water.

• Aid Stations • They were the best. They were every 2-3 miles and included GU gels and GU tabs, water and Gatorade as well as peppy volunteers.

• Parking • Was fantastic! It was free and right next to the startline. Like, a 1 minute walk to the start and finish lines. That's a huge deal IMO.

If you want a hard half that gives great swag, scenery and makes you fell proud of yourself, then sign-up for the 2019 Craft Classic.

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Fantastic 10k Experience"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

My Sunday included running the Global Energy Race 10k. It's a worldwide series of running events that take place in 23 cities around the world on the same day and helps support food banks.

• First of all, the course is beautiful & challenging. During the 10k, you run along Papago Park, the Desert Botanical Garden and near the Phoenix Zoo. I caught myself glancing up so many times to check out the scenery. It was hillier than I thought! There wasn't a 5k or 10k course online, so I didn't know what to expect. It was challenging and hot, but I still felt good running the course.

• I felt safe from start to finish. The roads were blocked off superbly. There were cones and flag ropes. Also, there were many aid stations that offered cold water. I counted about 10 officers on the course to ensure vehicles not driving on the course.

• Give me all the swag, edible, wearable & feelable! I was in shock with all the swag that came with this race. A drawstring bag, tech shirt, one arm sleeve, tech hat & medal. When you were done with the race, you could turn in your bib coupon for a free grilled cheese sandwich. Also, tons of Bimbo brand snacks, Takis chips, bagels & water bottles were given out at the finish line. Massage Envy was there and gave free chair massages.

• Race management is on point. Local to AZ race company, Startline Racing, timed the race. They gave 2 options for early bib pick up and then you could get your bib on race day. I took advantage of the Friday pickup and everything went smoothly. The course was exactly 6.2 miles too. They were well organized throughout the entire process. I knew the Global Energy Race was going to be good when I found out Startline was handling lots of the details.

• Parking & portapotties were amazing. There were TONS of open spots. The parking lot was huge and easy to navigate, they had signs everywhere and it was free. Also, there were over 20 portapotties. I'm so thankful for that.

This was my first Global Energy Race and I do plan to make it a yearly tradition!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.
(2018)
"Will Run 4 Miles on the 4th of July for Burgers"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The Arizona Road Racers 4 miles on July 4th is an Arizona tradition. And since the 4th ends up on random days as the years go by, that makes it even more fun! Run a 4-mile race on a Tuesday morning?! Oh heck YES!

This year the race ending up on a Wednesday morning. The sea of red-white-and-blue was awesome. I do my part and this year I added some fun with USA sunglasses and a headband.

IT IS HOT! I'm from AZ and lived here more than half my life so this race isn't an all out for me. I run smart and safe and in my comfort zone. No PR's for me! There was someone that passed out at the halfway point. If you plan on running this race, be warned. You are doing the first half with the sun at your back and the last 2 miles with the full sun in your face. Wear tons of sunblock, run with water and run safe.

All the food you can eat. I was still catching my breath after crossing the finish line, but that didn't stop me from getting in the burger line. I loaded up on a burger and watermelon. They also had chocolate chip cookies, potato chips and hot dogs.

If you want to start your Independence Day festivities early, then sign up for this race!

Login or sign up to leave a comment.