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13434 Views 36 Replies Latest reply: Dec 7, 2011 12:40 PM by jasd76 1 2 3 Previous Next
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Dec 3, 2011 8:29 AM

Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

Share your experiences with the Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K below Back to event details page.

  • Carly731 Rookie 4 posts since
    Apr 26, 2010
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    1. Dec 3, 2011 8:29 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    This was absolutely the worst race I've ever done. The race was not easily accessible and yet the organizers seem totally surprised by the fact that it was a traffic nightmare. We took the shuttle there and we had to board by 5:45 am. Our bus driver got lost but it ended up being a good thing because the race didn't start until 8:30 (supposed to start at 7:30). We were totally frozen by the time it started. Standing around shivering for 2 hours isn't really the best thing for your muscles pre-race.The course was very narrow and parts were gravel. I ended up with rocks in my shoes which wasn't fun. I read the horrible reviews for their Chicago race and I should have paid better attention. I never should have signed up for the DC race. I feel so bad for anyone who ran this as their first race! Please don't give up on running in DC!

    Twitter @carlyrachael

  • desteven Rookie 2 posts since
    Apr 16, 2010
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    2. Dec 3, 2011 8:39 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Hands down, the worst race I've ever been to. The choice of location was horrible to begin with - off a major highway that it usually choked with traffic during the week and no access to public transportation.


    My fiance and I left our house in NE DC at 7am and got to the 15k race at 7:45am. It took us about 15 minutes to walk from the National Harbor parking to the start line. No one checked our parking passes, which we had to pay for, so I'm sure that there were many people who parked without paying at all. When we got to the start line, the the 5k hadn't even started yet, even though they were posted for a 7:30am start. After waiting another hour - an hour PAST the 8am posted start for the 15k - we left. Too cold, too long, too incompetent. When I finally got home, I saw on Facebook that RAM Racing had blamed the delay on an accident. They specifically stated that as the reason for the delay. Now it turns out there was no accident? They were just lying?


    I've had delays in getting to a race before. I got to the 2010 Great Race 10k start line the moment the gun went off because of delays with their shuttles from downtown Pittsburgh. But guess what - the race still went on! They have 25,000 participants each year and they understand that you have to start the race on time to be fair.


    I will never run a RAM Racing event again. And if I find out they're doing this event in DC next year, I will petition whatever jurisdiction they're in to deny them permits. They shouldn't be allowed to put runners at risk like this.

  • ashrun246 Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 3, 2011
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    3. Dec 3, 2011 10:48 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    This is hands down the WORSE race I have ever "run"  If you could even call it that.  It started an hour late from the starting time which is crazy because the shuttle we had to take said that that we had to be on a shuttle no later then 6:15 to get to our 7:30 starting race time.  I was on time so were a lot of other people and we ended up freezing in the cold for 2.5 hours before the race actually started because they started and HOUR LATE because of traffic... the traffic did not even start until after the last shuttle time was supposed to be!!  My muslces were so tight because I was standing in the cold for so long.  Then once the race actually started we came to a complete stop because the course was too small.  It was a constant stop and go and then from running to walking because there was not enough space for everyone.  I will never run this race again or any other RAM race.  I will also tell others not to run this race either and to save there money for one that is more organized and starts on time.

  • Martini07 Rookie 2 posts since
    Oct 4, 2008
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    4. Dec 3, 2011 10:57 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    After running this Ram event, NEVER AGAIN!  This was so poorly organized it makes me wonder if even one runner enjoyed it out of 20,000!  The course, parking, after "party" were all terrible.  How we all didn't start a riot is a mystery!  Maybe because we were shivering for over an hour before it started so late......I had an easier time flying across the country to run a race in California!

    Met some cool runners, commiserating! 

    Too bad a chocolate themed run and festival was such a disaster.

  • TheSillyErudite Amateur 36 posts since
    Aug 10, 2010
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    5. Dec 3, 2011 11:14 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Absolutely the worst race I have ever participated in.  I have only run five races so far, all this year, (Warrior Dash, Komen, Run Geek Run, AIDS 5K, and SOME 5K) and each had its faults (none were this bad), but this was by far the most unorganized and unfulfilling race I have ever been a part of.  I understand that this was the first time that Hot Chocolate was in DC, but that is no excuse for the chaos and confusion that I encountered this morning.


    First, my friend and I left Alexandria at 6:15 to make the 7:30 start time for the 5K and didn't get to the parking deck (where I had a paid permit to park though it was never checked) until 7:45.  We spent an hour on the Woodrow Wilson bridge.  We knew we were late but we headed to the start line anyway figuring there had to be some kind of contigency plan. 


    Once we got out of the parking deck, there was confusion as to how we should be getting to the start line.  A member of the event staff directed us one way, then when we started going that way, police redirected us another way.  My friend noticed that none of the race staff had walkie talkies which probably didn't help the matter.


    Once we got to the start line, around 8:15, we realized that the 5K hadn't even started.  We, of course, were glad we could still participate, but felt really sorry for those participants who were on time and waited, in subfreezing temperatures no less, an additional hour for the start. 


    But our relief was short lived.  There were so many participants and so little area to run (the course was very narrow after the start), that we struggled to keep up a slow jog.  And the course was so packed it seemed like if the pack did separate it wouldn't be until the very end.  We stayed on the course for maybe a quarter of a mile before we decided it was more important to avoid the traffic leaving the National Harbor than to finish the race with a subpar time.


    And just in case we thought we could sneak off without the proverbial cherry on top, we were directed one way and then redirected another by event staff as we attempted to leave.  We ended up going to a local store, buying hot chocolate (not Ghirardelli), and running a 5K in a local park.  If they find a way to hold this race in the DC area next year, I will be hiding under my bed.  The only silver lining is that some of our registration costs went to charity.  


    I will run for chocolate, but not like this.

  • Daltieri Rookie 1 posts since
    May 24, 2011
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    6. Dec 3, 2011 11:30 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    What a complete waste of time. In the last 6 months, I've run 7 races and this was by far the poorest coordinated of them all. First, the race is in Marylandnot DC. Secondly, if you're not sure what you're going to do with all "those runners" then have a cut-off and don't let 20k people participate. If you're going to attempt to offer a warming tent, may I suggest not providing a 4 x 4 tent for 20 thousand people. It seems thoughtless. We knew it would be cold, but you all created the timeline for arrival times and then threw those times out the door by allowing people to walk on the course when the race was supposed to begin. I decided to run the 5k rather than wait for the 15k even though I knew I wouldn't get a time, etc. I had such high hopesthe last race for the season, chocolate, etc. BTW, the packet pickup on Wednesday was kind of insane as well. Learn your surroundings, RAM. Like the other reviewers, I think I will try to avoid future events sponsored by you. Less than a star, but looks like I had to give you 1.

  • x_39_and_holding_x We're Not Worthy 2,974 posts since
    Jan 19, 2008
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    7. Dec 3, 2011 1:03 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews



    I was pretty sure this was going to be a disaster but friends told me, "No, it'll be fine... don't stress..." Uh huh. Let's start with the parking fees. They collect $10 for "national harbor parking" and don't tell you WHERE the parking is. So when the thousands of cars get to national harbor, everyone just parks wherever they can find a space and not everyone had a parking pass or was carpooling. This is downright theft. No one checked bibs. No one checked number of people in a car. No one checked for a parking pass.


    Traffic was so backed up it took 40 minutes to go less than a mile. And this was at 6:00 AM! It was still backed up at 8:00. You could see the bridge from the plateau and cars were just crawling along.


    Porta potties were nowhere to be found in the major parking areas but there were plenty in the finisher/staging area that few people actually used, instead opting for the trees along the start corral area.


    Then someone thought it was a good idea to start a race in the direction the crowds feed INTO the start corrals. So the 5k got started more the 40 minutes late as a result. Once they were off, the 15k runners lined up and were ready to go. Except RAM racing wasn't. The 15k started an HOUR late. But that was only part of the problem. There was very little information being conveyed and what was being conveyed was unintelligible from most points in the packed starting corrals. So runners just stood. Waiting. And waiting. And waiting.


    The scenic run along a MAJOR 6-lane highway brought us the smell of truck exhaust and heavy traffic. The lanes were too narrow for the number of runners. The course ended up being short. Just a tad over nine miles -- not 15k. My Garmin recorded 9.08 miles. Others reported 9.1.


    Sorry, but RAM racing had no issues taking the money to let 20k runners register for this race. But neither they nor the location could handle that volume of people.


    Leaving was another fiasco with people making u-turns into stopped traffic and cops standing by just watching. There was very little traffic direction and even the guys trying to clear the roads of course markers had no police assistance to ensure their safety.


    This event was clearly designed around the finish festival which was actually done pretty well. However it failed to acknowledge the logistics of getting 20k runners in and out of the location. No public transportation, shuttle lines hundreds deep, gridlocked traffic trying to get in and out of National Harbor. Just bad, bad, bad.


    Not only can I not recommend THIS event, but I would specifically recommend against ANY event organized by RAM racing as a result of my experience. I've run 32 marathons in 25 states, 16 half marathons, and many shorter races. This was, by far, the most poorly organized event I have ever attended.


    I feel cheated.

    Obsessed with running and racing. It's all about the bling, baby! Suck it up and RUN!
  • ces78 Rookie 1 posts since
    Sep 8, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Dec 3, 2011 1:31 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I spent a good part of the 15k race composing this review in my head. This event was a tsumani of disaster. First, the location was absolutely terrible. The National Harbor has only one main road in and out, which meant that the traffic getting to the expo on Friday was a headache. Public transporation was, essentially, not an option because the harbor is almost inaccessible from the Metro system. My friends and I, all college students, paid for a rental car in order to get to both the expo and the actual race. A quick hint to the organizers: if DC is not visible from the course, you probably shouldn't bill it as "DC's Sweetest Race."


    The expo, of course, was nothing compared to the nightmare of the race itself. We boarded the shuttle bus from the parking lot at 6:45 am for the 8 am 15k start time. After arriving at the race site at about 7, we were lucky enough to spend about forty minutes in a heated tent. At that point, we headed to the starting line so as not to miss the gun.  We realized pretty quickly that the 5k runners, who were supposed to start at 7:25 am, were still milling around in the disorganized areas posing at corrals. We should have interpreted that as a sign that things could only go downhill from there (except for the course, apparently, because the last half mile was entirely uphill. Thanks, Ram team.) But, again, we're all broke college students and the idea of wasting the entry fee seemed sacrireligious. We waited another hour and a half for our start, which was enough time for most of my toes to go numb.


    When we finally got going, it felt more like fighting the crowds in a club then it did like a race. There were too many people on too narrow a course. After the first mile, I resigned myself to the fact that my time would be lackluster and began counting the minutes until I could escape the stampede/the eighteen wheelers driving right next to the course. The first four miles was an out-and-back spread over 4 lanes of the freeway (naturally). I assume that the fifth lane was also originally blocked off and that the organizers were forced to reopen it when the county heard that the race was starting 90 minutes late and flipped out. As a result, we got to rub elbows with the interstate traffic.


    I've run races that were smaller than this one and races that were larger. I've run shorter and longer distances, in cities and in suburbs. Never have I had a race start more than 5 minutes late, much less an hour and a half. I don't know if the organizers were completely inept or just lazy, but I will certainly not be running a Hot Chocolate race again. I advise you to save yourself the misery, and find a different December run.

  • Sam Knutson Rookie 2 posts since
    Dec 31, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Dec 3, 2011 2:11 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    RAM racing oversold this race to a degree that was unprofessional.  20K  at this venue was a recipe for disaster and they got one.  We left very early and did get in, parked, and ran the race which started over an hour late.  Thousands did not get to run at all because traffic and parking were so poorly planned for.   You were charged extra for parking but that money did not appear to have been used to fund appropriate traffic control and parking officers and planning.  The race itself after being delayed in the cold had some serious safety issues running on an only partially closed highway and a course that in placed narrowed severely.   The day was made tolerable by good company but I would not recommend this even ever again if it is still run at DC National Harbor because of the venue and would shy away from any event run by RAM racing.  The premium was very low quality certainly and the course just was not fun or safe. This was the worst organized race I have ever run in.   We have so many great races in DC with fields even larger than this that are well run.  Don;t bother with this one.

  • SQwim Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 3, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Dec 3, 2011 2:43 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I just now created an Activ account in order to spread the gospel....this was the most unsafe, unprofessional, and unfun race I have ever participated in.   

  • DoubleEye Legend 645 posts since
    Feb 4, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Dec 3, 2011 4:03 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Main complaints:


    1) Jackets (swag) were cheap and WAY OFF in terms of sizing.
    2) Traffic was a NIGHTMARE. Talk about poor planning. While waiting for the race at 8:30 (was supposed to start at 8), you could still see an ENDLESS stream of cars trying to get in to the parking lots.
    3) Parking (cost $10 even though no one checked for passes) was literally (no exaggeration) 1.47 miles from the starting line! They "said" it would be "about a half mile".    
    4) Got there at 7:20 for an 8am start. Normal, right? Didn't cross starting line until 9:19am. STOOD STILL for 2 hours waiting. Unacceptable.
    5) Volunteers at water stations were great, cheering was nice, chocolate was good.
    6) Problems all around. Logistical fail. Greedy company squeezing money out for the WORST RACE EXPERIENCE out of the 15 races I've now done.



  • darryel Rookie 1 posts since
    Nov 24, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Dec 3, 2011 4:39 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Poorly organized.  Unethical staff for removing facebook posts and lying about an accident that caused delays.  There was no accident.  More support on this page to ban Ram Racing from DC.




  • Newtin2012 Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 3, 2011
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    13. Dec 3, 2011 4:44 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Hey, I just woke up after a heck of a bender last was the race???

  • Amy Gay Rookie 1 posts since
    Apr 1, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Dec 3, 2011 4:46 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    If I could give this race negative 5 stars, I would. This was, without a doubt, the WORST race I have ever run. RAM racing needs to provide all of today's participants with a refund and then shut it's operation down. We waited in traffic for TWO hours, to cross a bridge that is a little over a mile long. The parking garage we paid $10 for was completely full by the time we made it to the race, and people were parking wherever they could. There was no organization around the corals, and this caused so much congestion during the race. The course was entirely too small for 20,000 people. There was ONE person pouring gatorade at the end of the race. Water stations were ill-equipped to handle runners. Bathrooms were almost non-existent along the course. Post race food was a joke, HALF a banana, three apple slices, a marsh mellow, pretzel stick and tiny rice crispy treat. There was no safe way to walk to and from the post race area, it was rocky, uneven terrain. And the zipper on my "high quality winter running jacket" broke the first time I put it on. I am shocked at how poorly this whole "race" was organized. RAM racing, do the right thing, apologize and refund runner's money. I am doing all I can to inform people that they should NEVER, EVER, EVER run a race hosted by you.

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