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13244 Views 36 Replies Latest reply: Dec 7, 2011 12:40 PM by jasd76 Go to original post 1 2 3 Previous Next
  • bbcgrrrl Rookie 1 posts since
    Nov 8, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    15. Dec 3, 2011 4:55 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    This one gets NO stars from me (but you have to choose at least one???). I've run a lot of races, big and small, in the DC area. WORST ORGANIZATION/ LOGISTICS EVER! Knowing that the race location was in a place not accessible by public transport and being familiar with the area traffic as we work not too far from it, my running buddy and I left VERY early and allowed MORE than enough time to park and get to the start. We paid EXTRA to park near the race start too! We sat in traffic for more than 2 hours. We turned on the best local traffic radio report (WTOP) and NO accident, just a line of cars waiting to park. The race organizers were caught flat-footed and lied about the delay, blaming it a "severe accident" on their FB page after the thousands of people stuck in the traffic started posting on their page! After two hours we gave up. For the racers 'fortunate' enough to make it the start, it was delayed for over an hour with little communication as to why. To hear them tell it, they stood in the cold for an hour 1/2 waiting. And they also posted that there was NO accident causing the delay, just parking. The race organizers spent more time removing negative feedback from their facebook page than keeping people informed. After reading the comments from Chicago, this seems to have NOT been an isolated incident! I sincerely hope that Runner's World does an investigation into RAM Racing and their poor organizational efforts. Thank goodness this was only a 5/15k. Their lack of organization could be very dangerous for longer distances!

  • cms4t Rookie 1 posts since
    Sep 19, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    16. Dec 3, 2011 4:57 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I agree with the all of the reviews posted above - this was by far the WORST race I have ever run.  Starting a 15K an HOUR late is unacceptable -- by the time the race actually started, I was worried I would fall down because my toes were frozen.  The course was way too small for the amount of people that they allowed to sign up -- the runners were so close that I was tripped more than once unintentionally.  Also, no one was actually checking which corrals people were supposed to start in -- people were so tired of waiting that the slower runners were cutting into the corrals where the faster runners were supposed to start.  What upset me the most was that a portion of the end of the race was on GRAVEL, extremely narrow, and unsafe.  I will NEVER sign up for this race again and recommend anyone thinking about signing up for one in the future to save your money and sign up for a safer race.  I am only giving this one star because I have too - no way to give negative stars.

  • GeralynOMarra Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 29, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    17. Dec 3, 2011 5:25 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    NO STARS!  I agree with all of the comments.  This was a train wreck. The 15 K was a mess. I paid for premium parking that was at least a mile from the race start.  The course a ridicules.  Traffic, gravel, water off gravel and a good 2 foot drop, questionable distance, and my personal favorite...UNSAFE NUMBERS AND COURSE CAPACITY!  In addition, I'm adding injury to the insult. I am now nursing what I hope is only a Grade 1 Calf Pull. After not one but two suddens darts to avoid traffic and runners in gravel, I can barely walk. I guess I can thank Ram for ending my racing season early.

  • TaniaMoreno Rookie 2 posts since
    Mar 14, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    18. Dec 3, 2011 6:28 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I'm so glad I had a gut feeling not to go and drive two hours to and from this race spending money on a hotel and so on. This sounds terrible and having ran many races before, I know how critical logistics (everything from lay-out, parking, route, traffic control, food etc) are.  I feel bad for everyone who had to experience this and if you were a first time runner, NOT ALL RACES ARE LIKE THIS!!!  I plan on staying away from any RAM event in the future but please don't be turned off from the fun of running and racing by what sounds to be a terrible experience.

  • jasonpelt Rookie 1 posts since
    Jan 26, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    19. Dec 4, 2011 5:43 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    It was bound to happen - I finally saw what a poorly planned race could become - Epic Fail. It all started with the choice of venue - the National Harbor. The Harbor is a planned little city that has one way in and one way out with no public transportation. The only way in is by car from one exit off of I-495. The race brought 20,000 runners with one only one way into the race. We were stuck on the Wilson Bridge waiting to get into the Harbor along with over half of the field. The race director delayed the start of the race over an hour to wait for the runners. We finally got to the start line about 10 minutes before the delayed start. Once the race started it didn't get any better. The race course could not handle the crowd and the paced slowed. It was also a dangerous course - running next to traffic and the with the large field runners were being pushed into the road. All of the water points along the course were under staffed and at some no one was there at all. It really was the worst race I have ever run. However, the post race party featured chocolate - lots and lots of chocolate. Will not run this race again and I would have to think twice before running another RAM event in the future. The best part of the race was running with my wife. Running side by side with her for 9.3 (actually 9.13) miles was an excellent start to the weekend. She is ready for the Princess Half in Florida. Rated this 1 star only because the no star option was not available.

  • Andrew Bakaj Rookie 1 posts since
    Oct 31, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    20. Dec 4, 2011 9:11 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    NO STARS, AVOID RAM RACING EVENTS:  22,000 individuals signed up for this race.  I was among those who was not able to make it due to traffic on the Wilson bridge. However, after speaking with close friends who actually made it, one of my most significant concerns is the danger to participant's and public health and safety where runners were placed in a dangerous situation while running alongside traffic on Indian Head HIGHWAY (only separated by traffic cones with cars and trucks driving by at full speed). There is a LOT to discuss, as evidenced by the numerous posts and comments on Facebook, but this is one issue I thought merited a significant review by race organizers and authorities. 


    (Based on personal observations and observations of colleagues who made it to the venue) 1. Many runners (thousands) could never make it to the race. 2. False assertion by race organizers that an accident contributed to the traffic when it was multiple cars piling into a single lane of traffic at a venue that could not accommodate 22,000 people. 3. Those who were unlucky enough to participate had to run alongside traffic posing significant danger to public health and safety. 4. A 5k segment of the race was altered (ran backwards at the last minute) significantly contributing to mass confusion. 5. Non-existent communication or crisis communication with local authorities, public media (ie. WTOP which does regular traffic updates (every 10 minutes) was never contacted resulting in the reporters believing the race was onetime and "underway" (WTOP IS A GREAT DC AREA RESOURCE, FYI)) 6. 15k race resulted in runners not having enough room to maneuver amongst one another, resulting some nearly falling into the Potomac River. 7. Race volunteers abandoned (or never got to the race due to traffic???) to fill water cups resulting in race participants stopping midway through race to fill their own water cups. 8. Runners stopped midway through race so a cleaning crew could pass through before being permitted to continue on. 7. Lack of medical personnel.  One participant was injured and after significant delay, was picked up and dropped off one mile away from further assistance and abandoned.  8.  Etc.



  • Karen Kossow Rookie 1 posts since
    Apr 6, 2008
    Currently Being Moderated
    21. Dec 4, 2011 9:32 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    No Stars.  I don't disagree with posts about the other issues with the race, but my main issue was the delay of the start of the 15K for just over an hour in sub 40 degree temperatures.  I took the shuttle from Crystal City (and was on by 6:15 as directed), was at the race by 6:45am and then had to stand in the freezing cold for over 2 hours waiting for the race to start.  Was prepared to be there for a little over an hour, but not for over 2.  I couldn't feel my legs or feet by the time the race start and didn't get any feeling back until about mile 2.  Not a great feeling running when you can't feel what you can't feel what you're running on (and I get warm easily when I work out, even in winter).  My legs were so tight because of the cold and shivering, and between that and the lack of feeling (along with being tightly packed in with others) I almost tripped over myself a number of times.  Wasted so much energy shivering.  Started to feel like I was getting sick last night and my back is killing me from the tension created by the shivering.


    I'm not going to complain about the hills in the race because that's running!  I'm not fond of hills, but they exist, and you deal with them.  One of my greatest recent triumphs was sprinting ( least it felt like it at that point) up the hill to Iwo Jima at the end of MCM.  If I can run a hill at the end of a marathon (my first), I can run a hill at the end of a 15K.


    Things were unsafe along Indian Head Hwy.  Because the lanes were too narrow, many runners were "forced" over the cones and close to the traffic (or like had to slow down and stay in with the pack which isn't fun when you feel like you could go faster).


    I registered late as one of the charity spots (paid more but the extra went to Ronald McDonald House so I was ok with that).  It took 2 weeks from the day that I registered to finally receive an e-mail confirming the registration (should have taken that as a hint) despite many e-mails on my part.  Obviously they were way off on the logistics.  Yes...doing a big race in a non-metro oriented location is tough...but then you either don't do it there, or consult those who are familiar with big races in DC for help. 


    I get that not everything is perfect the first time a race is run, and that hopefully things will get better, but I won't run this race again as it's not worth it to me to potentially stand in freezing cold weather for way to long again to find out.

  • dschonfe Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 4, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    22. Dec 4, 2011 10:18 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I have run in dozens of races over thirty years and without a doubt this was the worst race ever. The organizers, RAM Racing, were so focused on maximizing revenue they completely disregarded runner safety. they also disregarded runner enjoyment; that was their choice and now it is my choice to make sure you are aware of their methodology and strongly urge you to avoid their races in the future.


    They allowed 22k racers, and we're proud of it. The consensus is at the venu would support maybe 7k. There were thousands of cars stuck on the interstate waiting to get in. The starter insisted, several times on the loudspeakers, that the delay would be 10 or 15 minutes maximum. Maximum!!! As 15, then 20, then 30 and then 45 minutes passed, there was no information about the lie. Later the race organizers tried to blame an accident, but later agreed this was a lie. Thousands of people never made it. Many who did jumped out of cars on a busy interstate and had to sprint to the start line. Those of us who stayed in hotels nearby waited in the freezing cold an hour and a half, and as a result many pulled muscles and are now out for the season. I watched runners stumble on the very narrow gravel path that was about a quarter as wide as the start line - an obviously flawed route (the route in reverse was an obvious fix so the narrow section would be at the end). The longer race had runners hopping aside to avoid truck traffic on a six lane road. I watched the winner of the 5k have to dodge many bystanders on his way up hill to the finish because the organizers did not clear out people. There were many reports of prepaid premium parking being full. The bathrooms were all at the finish party, with not a single one near the race start. The water in the race ran out, and after the race was sloppily placed almost directly on the chute less finish line which created more danger for runners trying to cool down but had to dead stop one step over the finish line.


    I could go on, as if this is not enough. The jackets didn't fit. The packet pickup was a mess. The trash at the party after was strewn everywhere. The only thing well done was the abundance of for-fee photographers, just reinforcing the sentiment that ram racing, the organizer, only cared about profit.


    Avoid this race and it's organizer, RAM racing.

  • meshell Rookie 1 posts since
    Oct 1, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    23. Dec 4, 2011 11:56 AM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Traffic and delay of race aside (which were miserable and surely partly due to the fact that the race organizers did not limit the number of cars parking in National Harbour despite charging 500 runners $10 to park there) this would still have been the most miserable race ever.  In order to get to and from parking and the start line racers had to go onto the race course.  Given that the 15K was slotted to start 30 minutes after the 5K this would still have lead to a crowd blocking the 5K course inorder to get to bag check, potties, and into the 15K corrals even if thousand of runners weren't late to the start due to traffic.  This lead to dangerous running conditions for the 5K race and well anyone trying to fight their way through the 15K course to get to their cars upon finishing the race.  The course was short by at least .1 if not more.  Additonally the first 5 miles were on a major highway with trucks in the lane right next to runners which is dangerous and not very pleasant for running.    I will never sign up for a race organized by RAM racing and I would encourage other runners to avoid such races as well.

  • Paul Palmer, Jr. Rookie 2 posts since
    Oct 10, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    24. Dec 4, 2011 2:06 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    This race was a disaster. I will not repeat all of the information listed above because previous writers have done an excellent job. RAM you are an embarresment to the sport. Do the right thing and refund the money to all racers. What you did was STEAL from people.


    Paul Palmer, Elkton, MD

  • RunnerANDRepeat Rookie 1 posts since
    Dec 4, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    25. Dec 4, 2011 2:44 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    Much of the problems MAY have been out of RAM's control.


    However, the bottom line is that the buck stops with RAM.


    FAIR RESOLUTION:Gross Receipts MINUS Actual Out of Pocket Expenses DIVIDED by Number of Runners EQUALS Refund Amount


    It would be UNFAIR if RAM turned a profit on what they admit is not the product they sold the runners.

  • cuseKB Rookie 1 posts since
    Oct 4, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    26. Dec 4, 2011 2:49 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I cannot speak to the safety of the course, the late start time, or the parking issues because I never made it to the race since I was stuck in traffic. During the multiple hours I sat in the car on the highway I saw no accidents despite the fact that RAM Racing cites two as the cause for the traffic troubles that morning. Instead, I saw highway lanes and entire exits closed off by RAM Racing in an attempt to funnel too many cars through too few entrance/egress points. My passenger and I were surrounded by cars full of other racers in the same preventable position. Some drivers were letting their passengers off in the middle of the road in the hopes that at least some of them would make the race on foot. My registration fee, my parking fee, the day I took off from work, the gas I bought to drive to "DC" (truly, Maryland, and inaccessible via public transportation) and innumerable hours of my life - I can't get any of those things back because RAM Racing offered a letter of excuses instead of honorable donations to charity or racer refunds. If I could have posted this without rating it at least one star, I certainly would have done so.

  • JKMChurchill Rookie 1 posts since
    Aug 27, 2007
    Currently Being Moderated
    27. Dec 4, 2011 5:13 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I believe most of the posts have captured the problems with this race. I don't directly blame the organizers of the race for the unfortunate accidents that caused the delay in start. I DO, however, blame the race organizer for the ridiculous course layout. A hairpin turn less than a half-mile after the race start can lead to nothing but overwhelming congestion. Running along a busy and dangerous road was not only a significant safety problem, it was just plain stupid. Running on a narrow gravel pathway that couldn't accommodate more than 3 people wide (where if one stumbled to the left they would fall in the river), when there were 22K people entered in the race (I realize not all were running the 15K as some were in the 5K) was so incredibly frustrating. In addition, I witnessed no attempts to make any sort of controlled release of runners at the start, I was passing loads of people walking within the first mile, clearly those people shouldn't have been at the front of the mass of people to begin with.


    Very poorly organized, I'll never run another race by this group again and never at the National Harbor again.


    This is a zero rating. Actually, it's a negative rating as I want to take some stars away!

  • LisaFoose Rookie 1 posts since
    May 5, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    28. Dec 4, 2011 5:43 PM (in response to Guest )
    Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    no stars.  really.  I won't rehash others' complaints but I am guessing that RAM must have made a ton of $ and to RAM, that justifies this complete debacle.  Not only were runners running almost HALF of the 15k on a HIGHWAY that was not closed (subject to exhaust fumes and other logistical issues) this RACE had just clogged up traffic everywhere and I was worried that one of the drivers would take it out on the runners.  I can't believe I paid $10 to park and committed to carpool (which we did) and even having left Arlington with more than 2 hours to spare, was stuck in bottleneck after bottleneck.  The course was terrible (and short) and the volunteers were CLUELESS.  One person was DEMANDING that the 15k runners go down to the shell laden path to walk to the start line while ALL of the 5k runners were coming down the same path in the other direction.  It was worse than the blind leading the blind.  It was the greedy RAM not caring about the racers or anything else. Ghriadelli would to well to choose another race organizer.  BOO!!!!!!

  • Sian421 Rookie 1 posts since
    Jun 5, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    29. Dec 4, 2011 6:35 PM (in response to Guest )
    Re: Hot Chocolate 15K / 5K Reviews

    I wish I could give zero stars. This was the biggest disaster I have seen in the many races I have done. The RAM racing organization completely unethical and does not care about the safety of the runners. The course was unsafe with 5 miles of it on a open highway where they funneled thousands of runners in 1-2 lanes. Cars were a few feet away with construction vehicles emitting fumes the whole way. The race didn't start for 2 hours after it was supposed to start, leaving us stand in 35 degree weather. The traffic planning was horrendous - with many folks sitting in traffic for hours - never able to even make it to run the race. Part of the race was running on gravel where semis were parked and large garbage recepticles were sitting - classy. Worst of all the company owner "apologized" a day after and basically blamed everyone but himself for the debacle that occurred. Not only are they not accepting responsibility for the dangerous conditions they created, they are trying to delete truthful, appropriate Facebook posts (including mine) from the website. Apparently, the same exact conditions have appeared in the Chicago race - apparently there isn't interest from the company in ensuring a safe fun race for the participants - it s obviously just a mony making machine. Also the "premium" race jackets are a joke. Two sizes too small, and very cheap!! All around disaster and I filed with the BBB to tr o get a refund!!

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