This review is for the San Diego Hot Chocolate 5K/15K in March 2013
Pre-race. Packet pick up was one of the easiest one’s I have experienced. They had plenty of people ready to help and the process was fast and easy to pick up your bib. Next stop in the process was the goodie bag pick up – which this year was a brown hoodie sweatshirt. I had a code so got a running hat (which I love) in addition to the sweatshirt. From here they had a “try on” station where they had all the sizes of hoodies for you to try on and if you wanted a different size because it fit better then you can figure out which one you wanted by trying them on and then take your unopened hoodie to the exchange booth.
This then opened up into the expo. The expo was small and not much there but they had samples of the chocolate and the hot chocolate and fondue dip you would be receiving in addition to just a couple of vendors. Being only in it’s 2nd year I imagine the expo will grow as more vendors become aware of this race and it’s 13,000 runners.
Pre-race. Parking was $10 for lots/structures, metered on the street (get there really early). I had no problems getting parking in a structure and it was a fast moving line to get in. Again, one of the easier ones to get into parking wise.
Corrals were monitored and roped off. Plenty of porta-potties everywhere.
The race was started on time with the 5K going first. Once the 5K runners were all through the corrals started lining up for the 15K next. Those also went quickly and started on time.
Course: San Diego both the 5K and the 15K offer a very challenging hilly course. This is not flat and fast. For the 15K the first 7.8 miles is basically all up hills with the most challenging hill at mile 7 which then goes downhill from there to the finish. The 5K also has a decent hilly challenging course according to my friend I went with (and the elevation course map on their website) so be prepared!
While at first I thought us 15K’er should go first since we had the longer race at the finish I understood why they do this. At the finish line and in the finishers chute it was uncrowded, easy to get through and easy to grab a bottle of water without a ton of people. Picking up the chocolate “mug” finishers item was also super fast, easy and uncrowded. The finishers area was huge with plenty of places to walk, stretch or sit. Had the 5K started after the 15K you would have had both sets of runners in the finishers area making it crowded and not as easy to get through. So having the 5K start first, finish, get their stuff and leave left it open and uncrowded for those of use who chose the longer distance. Well done and well thought out.
Post race: There isn’t a finishers medal but you get a large plastic “mug” which is sectioned off with a cup of hot cocoa in the center (really good btw!), some chocolate fondue and a banana, pretzels, marshmellow, rice krispy square and cookie to dip into the chocolate fondue. The chocolate was really good – not cheap tasting but good quality chocolate all around.
We are thinking of making this run an annual run – the hoodies are great and the chocolate so yummy and for the price a really good challenging course – though I think next year i’ll stick to the 5K unless they give the 15k-ers an additional anything (finishers medal) for going the longer distance. Other than the distance the 15K runners get the same exact stuff and with the hills the 5K is enough of a challenge for me to do.
I’ve run over 8 half marathons in under a year with some 5K’s and 10K’s in between. The San Diego race was one of the most organized well run race I’ve done. Not quite Disney organized but pretty darn close – which says a LOT considering it’s half the cost of the Disney races. It was THAT organized!