Throwback Wednesday – Hot Chocolate 2012

So, I am obviously late to the “Never running Hot Chocolate again” bandwagon…

And, I will start with packet pick-up the Friday before the race instead of just the run through of the race itself. Because the issues with this race DEFINITELY started with packet pick-up…

Eric and I opted to go Friday after work and Eric drove over there. So he picked me up and we headed out. We parked at Soldier Field and weren’t too far from the Tent. But there was a line… and it was LONG. Lucky for us, it was still before 5:00 so we were beating the after work crowd… but geez… the line snacked through the parking lot. Oh and I should also mention it was cold… and we didn’t really dress for standing around in the cold for long periods of time.

1 Hot Chocolate 11-2-12

I don’t actually remember how long we waited outside in the line… but it was 30 minutes at the very least. The volunteers went around with hot chocolate and pieces of chocolate. But really… that wasn’t enough to make up for this in my opinion. I was cold and I had not planned on spending most of my Friday evening waiting in line for a packet. We knew that bib numbers were being assigned on the fly… and I still cannot fathom why a race would do this… especially a race of this size.

Eventually we made it into the tent and I thought it would be only minutes before we had our packets… but nope… it was just a teaser. The line weaved around indoors as well. Again, it was another 30 minutes at least.

We finally made it to the front of the line to get our packets. I was grabbing Chris’ packet for him and then I needed to downgrade both Chris and I from the 15K to the 5K… Luckily, that process wasn’t too cumbersome.

Eric and I wandered around a bit but we didn’t stay too long… after all, we had been there for at least an hour already. So we headed back out to the car and went home.

Fast forward to race morning. We got there super early. Eric had an early wave/corral. What I thought was odd then (and in hindsight think was asinine) was that Wave 2 corrals closed only 15 minutes after wave 1…

We all waited as long as possible before taking off our coats to check our gear and then headed over to the corrals. Eric went his way while Chris and I went to our own corral to wait… and wait… and wait… and waited some more.

From the time the first corral was sent off to the time when the corral Chris and I were in was an hour… and it was COLD.

I understand having two waves and lots of corrals… but when you are waiting three minutes between each corral then you do not need to force both waves to close so early. And we were the first corral in the second wave. So really… we waited an hour… They could have easily closed wave 2 another 15 minutes later and it would have been fine.

By the time we finally started running my toes felt like solid blocks of ice they were so cold and running was painful. The course had us starting out on lower Wacker… Which is probably the worse place for a race. It is dark and smelly and you cannot get a Garmin signal. We wound around there for about a mile before heading back toward the start line and making our way over to MI Ave. As we were near the start line, I noticed that there were still several corrals that had not even started the race yet…

It was a bad race for me. I was walking more than I wanted to… mostly because my toes were still frozen and running was still painful. I was beyond glad that I bumped down to the 5K.

We had agreed on a meet up spot for after the race. As I approached the finish line, I was thrilled to be almost done. I found Chris quickly and maybe 10 minutes later we found Eric. Guess that is what happens when one person starts the race nearly an hour before the other two… Ehhh… this part wasn’t too bad. It was a good thing Chris and I didn’t have to wait long for Eric to finish. We got our gear and then hiked (and yes that is an accurate term) over to the area to get our chocolate goodies. The gear check was near the finish line… which is smart… but the area for the chocolate stuff was several blocks away and on the other side of the street…

We waited in line to get our chocolate, ate everything quickly and then took off. None of us were impressed with the race. I did the race in 2010 and it was a million times better than it was in 2012. And to be honest… I have heard from veteran runners that there were issues in 2010 too… I was just lucky enough to not encounter them.

All in all, it was a race that we would NOT be doing again. In general, I won’t do any other RAM Racing event again. Not only were the issues something that probably could have been avoided had they planned better (or assigned bib numbers ahead of time) but all they did was say they were sorry. They did nothing else to try to make up for the issues. For the cost of the race, they really should been better prepared.

Oh and to make things even better… My race time is not even official. They have never registered my number to my name despite my reaching out to them…. In this race, I will forever be known as “Unknown Runner”

My Official time – 37:21 for a pace of 12:02


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