"Disclaimer: I received a complimentary race entry for the Hot Chocolate 15k as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!"
This was the first-ever Hot Chocolate race in Las Vegas. I was scheduled to run it last year, but it was cancelled due to construction issues. I have ran the HC 15k in Phoenix, so I was looking forward to the same level of excitement - if not MORE - because it was in Las Vegas! I grabbed one of my best girlfriends and decided to make a weekend out of it. The possibilities to entertain yourself in Vegas are endless, so the race fit perfectly into a full weekend agenda of fun.
We decided to stay at the hotel where the race started & finished – the LINQ. The pre-race communication was great. Lots of emails leading up to the race. There was only packet pickup for 3 hours on Friday and 3 hours on Saturday. Not easy to find, either. Luckily it was in our hotel, but still no signage to get you there.
And once we found packet pickup, it was a mostly empty room with just bare bones tables to pick up the essentials. I remember the inaugural phx race, it was in a rented out retail store and at least had pumping music, several booths from local vendors, photo opps - just way more energy. So that was a disappointment. It felt like a disconnect from the Hot Chocolate brand and their events in other markets – very, very sparse. I liked the embroidered jacket that came with it, as opposed to a t-shirt. It is quite soft and warm. I'm not sure why men got orange and women got blue, my friend who did the race wished he had the blue, and I wished I had the orange. Oh well! It came in a nice bag and had a few coupons in there, but that was it.
Doing a race in Vegas is tough, if you like to indulge in alcoholic beverages. We had a great time, but I had to be fairly “good” the night before so that I could get up early and do the race and not feel terrible. The promenade around the LINQ is so pretty. It was fun to go up on the High Roller and check out the views.
We did a ton of walking the day before (easily 5 miles) down the strip, so my legs were very tired on race day. I was happy that I brought my new compression sleeves and vector racing socks from 2XU It ended up being a warm day, and I felt just right.
Luckily with an 8 am start time and the race being in my backyard, I had time to relax with a pre-race coffee. The race started at the High Roller ferris wheel by the LINQ. We had a great backdrop for the race. The start area was pretty desolate though - just a few tents and hot chocolate inflatables that were set up way far out, not sure why they did it that way, unless they were expecting a larger crowd? I had to look hard to find the iconic happy marshmallows that are the mascots for the race. The 5k started at least 15-20 min late and the 15k started 10-15 min late. No idea what the hold up was.The race was small enough that I'm not sure we even needed corrals, but they did do a wave start. The course went out on the strip for like a minute before it turned off and became less and less scenic as we continued. The route was a bit of a disappointment, parts of it were an out and back on a highway with a long incline. It was a warmer than usual day for February, but luckily there was plenty of shade (and downhill!) on the way back.
There were m&ms on course, which I took advantage of. They were just sitting out in cups like "help yourself". might have been more effective if there was someone there yelling "m and m's" and handing them out. A guy next to me grabbed a cup thinking it was water and then laughed and said it was a cruel joke that they were m&ms not water. There was lots of water stops with nuun hydration, which was great. Volunteers were great, too. My gps showed the course to be a bit long, like 9.7 instead of 9.3.
At the finish we received our medals, which were nice. And we also got the famous chocolate cup with dippers and chocolate and hot chocolate. The cups had older branding on them, they had 10k and 5k on it.
If you're doing the race for the fun chocolate experience, I do recommend it. I hope that they are able to build out the race expo, and make the start/finish experience more fun in the future to match the HC races in other markets. It was a fun “racecation” but on it’s own it’s a little weak. It really has the potential to be epic when you put Vegas and Hot Chocolate together.
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!