Latest reviews by William Brent

(2019)
"Chocolate, yes please!"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The good: uhm Chocolate at the end??
The bad: getting in and out of Philly

The hot chocolate series has to be one of my favorite race series because it is a consistent runner experience.
From the moment you decide to run this race and sign up; until the moment you finish the race; you are in good hands 😂🤣😂.

Whether you are a first time runner, or legacy runner this course and company does not disappoint.

The event website is pretty easy to use; you go sign up, and if you've created an account it'll auto populate everything for you.

The communication from the race management team is pretty seamless there's a little bit of advertising but for the most part they share relevant information at good intervals so it does not feel overwhelming.

Unlike the part of Pennsylvania where I live Philadelphia is predominantly flat ergo this race is flat. The only Hill you may experience is coming off Martin Luther king drive around the museum to the finish line but at that point the race is over and you're in the home stretch.

The volunteers on course are pretty energetic in general but philly brings a good crowd and the allstate folks at the end do bring you in strong
Also I'm a sucker for course scenery and the time of year (Spring in Philadelphia) is amazing. You're running along the Schuylkill river and the cherry blossom trees are blooming! Even though it was freezing this morning It wound up being a gorgeous day.

I skipped the expo this year but if you've read any of my Philly reviews it's because I really don't like going into Philadelphia...you spend 3 hours going 10 miles just to get from the turnpike to center city.
If you have a friend that's doing the race they can pick up your packet with your confirmation number. Additionally you can have it mailed to you...or you could just skip the packet altogether and pick up your bid race day at the emergency tent (the information tent) but I wouldn't want to abuse that provaledge... You cannot pick up your swag but you can get a replacement bib.

Finish line at the hot chocolate runs is truly a family event no you can't buy a hot chocolate for your kids but all state started bringing a ball pit that they can jump in and wait for you and yes there is chocolate fondue there is hot chocolate there are honey stinger waffle is there are marshmallows and you get to hang out.

At the end of the day this is a perfect distance to tune up for a Spring marathon to test your mettle after a Winter hiatus or just an excuse to get outside with a bunch of people you don't know and get sweaty.

Also the metal is kind of cool because you have the ubiquitous chocolate bar with a bite missing and a custom sticker for the city where you ran this year I will have 3 cities Seattle Philadelphia and Brooklyn
Yes. Do this race.

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(2019)
"Fast and mostly flat"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The good: fast race through the city of brotherly love
The bad: strawberry bridge

In all seriousness this is a fast run and mostly flat. The weather this year happened to be beautiful which is not always the case in April in Philly.
Leading up to the race:
There is ample communication coming from the race management.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen; was seamless communication regarding having someone else get my bag (see below).

The expo:
Didnt go.
I don't go to Philly unless I have to.
The traffic is atrocious and it's really not a convenient city to get in and put of.
That being said, it's really easy to to get into the city at 0500 on a Sunday morning...
The race company will mail you your packet, or you can have a friend get it for you with a copy of your ID.
For this information I simply emailed the race management company and they repsonded pretty quickly.

The pre-race
Ups gear check. Easy peasy.
The art museum steps are easy to get to and available for iconic pictures running up or just standing there...

The race:
A lot of good energy.
Really good organization.
The corral system is laid out really well.
There is something magical about running toward City Hall down Ben Franklin boulevard.
Its dopey but you feel like you're watching the opening credits to a philly based movie...or maybe even an extra?
The first 7K is super flat and fast.
The volunteers were good.
I personally was a little put off by the team handing out the energy gel at mile 9 I think that I would have stage the volunteers energy gel Then electrolyte then Water.
Come to think of it the whole course was water than electrolyte and it is my personal preference do you have electrolyte 1st then water in case I want to wash it down or in case it is too sticky or whatever.
Also the course, as I stated, is pretty flat. You're running along the Schuykill river I'd love for most of the race and U loop around city Hall for another segment.
But there's one portion kind of kills you around mile 8 because you're running up the off ramp and even though it's not a long Hill or it's not be most steep Hill I've personally ever climbed the placement at the race is impact Ful.

The finish line
I think that the love run does a fantastic job of taking care of runners.
Receives a post race goodie bag with water pretzels were Nola and it's so much easier than trying to collecting carry those things like you would have to do it other races.
This year they had a beer garden which was nice you got to sample some of the Coney island IPS and I believe smernoff had a sample station
The flow of runners out the finish line and into the food tent and then out to the gear check area was super efficient and should be admired and replicated.

All in all this race is a must do to start your Spring running season.
Even though you have to drive into Philadelphia for it the the race outweighs the drive so I thoroughly recommend it.

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(2019)
"Fast and mostly flat"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

The good: fast race through the city of brotherly love
The bad: strawberry bridge

In all seriousness this is a fast run and mostly flat. The weather this year happened to be beautiful which is not always the case in April in Philly.
Leading up to the race:
There is ample communication coming from the race management.
The only thing I would have liked to have seen; was seamless communication regarding having someone else get my bag (see below).

The expo:
Didnt go.
I don't go to Philly unless I have to.
The traffic is atrocious and it's really not a convenient city to get in and put of.
That being said, it's really easy to to get into the city at 0500 on a Sunday morning...
The race company will mail you your packet, or you can have a friend get it for you with a copy of your ID.
For this information I simply emailed the race management company and they repsonded pretty quickly.

The pre-race
Ups gear check. Easy peasy.
The art museum steps are easy to get to and available for iconic pictures running up or just standing there...

The race:
A lot of good energy.
Really good organization.
The corral system is laid out really well.
There is something magical about running toward City Hall down Ben Franklin boulevard.
Its dopey but you feel like you're watching the opening credits to a philly based movie...or maybe even an extra?
The first 7K is super flat and fast.
The volunteers were good.
I personally was a little put off by the team handing out the energy gel at mile 9 I think that I would have stage the volunteers energy gel Then electrolyte then Water.
Come to think of it the whole course was water than electrolyte and it is my personal preference do you have electrolyte 1st then water in case I want to wash it down or in case it is too sticky or whatever.
Also the course, as I stated, is pretty flat. You're running along the Schuykill river I'd love for most of the race and U loop around city Hall for another segment.
But there's one portion kind of kills you around mile 8 because you're running up the off ramp and even though it's not a long Hill or it's not be most steep Hill I've personally ever climbed the placement at the race is impact Ful.

The finish line
I think that the love run does a fantastic job of taking care of runners.
Receives a post race goodie bag with water pretzels were Nola and it's so much easier than trying to collecting carry those things like you would have to do it other races.
This year they had a beer garden which was nice you got to sample some of the Coney island IPS and I believe smernoff had a sample station
The flow of runners out the finish line and into the food tent and then out to the gear check area was super efficient and should be admired and replicated.

All in all this race is a must do to start your Spring running season.
Even though you have to drive into Philadelphia for it the the race outweighs the drive so I thoroughly recommend it.

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(2019)
"New Course Same weather"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

I have had the benefit of running this race two times prior.
The good: rock n roll puts on a good race. Running around the Capitol is pretty sweet and there is always support.
The bad: this is going to sound super petty.... but where is my finisher jacket?!?!?!?

Pre race communication:
RnR does a succinct job in communicating. And they have a standard format whichn covers all their bases. It is not too frequent but early and enough.

The expo:
I was a little disappointed that some of the vendors didn't show. There were a handful of empty tables when I got there.
I was also a little confused that there were more vendors with muscle stimulation/ massage machines than running gear or products. It felt like every third table was an electro muscular stimulation machine...
I feel that the expo was laid out to optimize flow of people through the expo which is helpful.
Also. They had a plank contest which was neat--and the first time I had seen this at a rnr expo. I though this was engaging and fun.

The course
New this year ! You dont run through the abandoned industrial park.
Okay okay. Maybe it wasn't an abandoned anything but in years past there was an awful stretch between 15 and 20 which felt lonely and boring.
Even though there were more 180 degree turns I felt doubling back through the park and over the highway was much more tolerable.
If I remember correctly where the half marathon and full marathon and traditionally split this time around the half marathon banks right and the full marathon banks left.
I really appreciated seeing the 5K runners come in and being able to cheer on other marathon runners on my way back.
All in all they did a good job of making this race fast in the beginning and then technical at the end with some hills and some turns and this is a good competitive race
Also a side note about the course every year I have run the rock and roll Washington DC it has been freezing and either raining or snowing or so 1st time is an outlier 3rd time is a trend...

The swag
Where is my finisher jacket
I know that achieving a certain time completing a certain distance or a combination of the 2 should be why I ran the race
But
I look forward to the jacket which reads marathon finisher
I was really looking forward to having that jacket at the end of the race
The T-shirt you get is your standard T-shirt it's a technical material and it has the logo for the race this year the colors were black-and-blue which felt kind of dreary especially with the weather. The metal is OK I think they get a better job with their Virginia Beach metal and their Brooklyn metal when they were running in Brooklyn New York

After party
Another rock and roll staple are there after race events with the headliner series concert and the Michelob Ultra area.
I was not let down this year by the finisher area they were giving out pizza and the normal race amenities like bananas and chocolate milk. They had music playing they had awards and metal engraving and yes I could have bought by finisher jacket at the merchandise tent
Free Michelob Ultra had the end of a race is always fun
I had a massage area which was very welcome and a changing area which they may have had in the past but I don't remember ever taking advantage of

Summary
Ideal enjoy rock and roll races they put on a good race they plan a good course they have good amenities on and after the race and while it's not always about the swag they often do put some thought into what they give you

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(2019)
"Holy Hills Batman"
Overall
T-Shirts/SWAG
Aid Stations
Course Scenery
Expo Quality
Elevation Difficulty
Parking/Access
Race Management

Any way you look at it; the the Hot Chocolate races are a must do!

I missed the expo this time around because of a snafu with getting to the airport.
BUT
This gives me the unique opportunity to review communication with the race staff and how they respond to people needing assistance!

The skinny on my communication:
I was bummed that I couldn't get my swag bag day of the race, but I understand why they do that. Once I found the information booth it was super easy for them to print a bib for me. They scanned my QR code and printed it out!
Finding the booth.... that was a bit tricky
I started backward at the finisher festival; then finish line; then gear check then start line. That's when I found them lol (figures)
They were super helpful and were easy to get along with.
The communication leading up to the race was good too.
The team was pretty responsive when I reached out for help! Same day response which doesn't always happen; especially at races this size.

Other pre race communication:
They dont spam you with stuff which is nice. Maybe 1 email. I was please with it.

Expo:
See above

Race organization:
Fantastic.
The course was laid out really well! I also have to admit the layout of the start/finish village was really ingenious...run it next year to find out why 😉
I think the family reunion signs near the gear check were a fantastic idea (I don't remember seeing these previously)

The course
Uhh read the intro.
The hills weren't awful but I was certainly not anticipating them. I almost feel like there wasn't a flat part on the course.
After the half way point, that up hill was okay, but the giant one around mile 7 was killer!
For the most part it was a closed course. There was one AH who drove onto the course and the cops legitimately chased him down.
I also really liked how the incoming and outgoing runner traffic was separated. They did a great job of making sure there was ample space even if the roads were a bit narrow.

I would have liked a bit more scenery. Going over the bridge was cool (yes I have a thing for bridges) but again that was also the big hill where you needed to dig a little to keep pace.

Course support:
There is nuun; water; marshmallows and something else on course.
The volunteers are great. They cheer and are friendly.

Finish line
In true HC fashion the music and chocolate flowed. I don't remember honey stinger products being in the mug last year but heck yeah!
All state had a great booth with some recovery tools and some photo booths which was nice (and it made the finish area a bit more friendly for kids)

Bottom line:
You need to run a HC race. They are walker friendly and a load of run. The jacket they give is really nice and the finisher medal is pretty dope too!

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