"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 my 5th hot chocolate race. I ran Hot Chocolate 15k here in Scottsdale the first year they offered it, back in 2012. I was scheduled to run the 15k last year, but had to drop down to the 5k after having knee surgery.I also ran the 15k in Las Vegas in 2016 and 2017.
One cool thing about Hot Chocolate series is that they send you a training plan each week via email! With your entry you also got a logo ¾ zip this year, which is super cool, a chocolate finishers mug, and the 15k folks get a nice medal. More about that later.
The location for the Hot Chocolate race is Salt River Fields, where the Arizona Diamondbacks call home for spring training. It’s a nice area, but a little out of the way in terms of racing for us East Valley folks. Packet pickup was held there too, on Friday and Saturday. No same day pickup was advertised. You could also opt to have your packet mailed to you for an extra fee. I went on Friday afternoon, which was pretty easy – as long as you were carpooling! We breezed through traffic, luckily. Packet pickup took place on the concourse of the ballpark. There were a ton of vendors from other local races, as well as Hot Chocolate merchandise for sale. More vendors than last year.
Pickup was pretty easy, except they make you go to 2 separate ends of the concourse for bib and goodie bag.
They were handing out samples of hot chocolate, I *may* have had two!
On race morning, we drove up there early, knowing would be a fiasco later. We still encountered traffic near the ballpark. There were over 7,000 people participating in these 2 races! It was warmer this year – 55 at the start and 65 at the finish. I was a little overdressed for the 2nd half of the race. It is a wave start, with corrals leaving every 3 minutes. I was in the second corral, and boy was it crowded. I could not move for pretty much the first 1/2 mile.
The 5k was first, with the 15k race starting 45 minutes later. I felt pretty good during the race, with the exception of needing to use the porta pottie, which never happens. About every 2 miles there were sweets available, as well as water and nuun. The sweets were everything I don’t like, which was actually a good thing so I didn’t have to stop. Marshmallows, candy corns and peppermint sticks. Blah. At other hot chocolate races they have had m&ms which would have been much more awesome.
The course is flat as a pancake and has some out and back sections. Overall not much to look at. I did get to run into my fellow BibRave Pro Justin and he was able to entertain me for a mile or so.
Time for the medal and finishers mug! It was a cup of hot chocolate, pretzels, a banana, a marshmallow, 2 chocolate pirouette cookies and some chocolate fondue for dipping. I enjoyed this part, although it was pretty messy. There were some variations in the dippers given to folks, not everyone got the same kind of cookie.
Bottom line, this is a huge local race, with no big competing race in the area the same weekend. Everyone was happy and enjoying their chocolate. A lot of folks did the 5k with their kids. I am going on the record again to request some tables – highboys- anything! It is NO fun to eat messy chocolate on the ground. Also just fyi it is a really, really long walk back to your car from the finish area. Geez!!
On the plus side - within a few hours I had FREE, quality race pictures emailed to me! What?! I wish more races did that.
The base of the medal appears to be the same across all cities this year – but they added an extra hanging piece that is unique to each city. Like Chicago had the Bean for example. Arizona got a gecko/lizard.
I saw so many local running friends here. I would definitely recommend this race to anyone, for a fun experience. The race benefits the Make A Wish Foundation, which is such a great cause. We even had a young girl fighting MS who was a recipient of a “wish” speak at the start of the race. I'm sure I'll do another one in the future. Look for a Hot Chocolate race near you!
Hi, I'm Emily! I'm an avid runner in Arizona with a passion for travel and racing around the country!