Disclaimer: I received a free entry to 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 is my second year running Hot Chocolate 15k Atlanta as BibRave Pro. If you read my report and BibRave review from last year, you’ll know that I went into the race with pretty low expectations. I was happily surprised that it was a great race though, and quickly signed up this year when it was offered again to the BibRave Pros. I’m happy to report that the few issues I had with the race last year were definitely improved this year!
Last year I was very disappointed with the expo: the space was very small, it was very crowded with long lines, and the vendors were lacking. Some of this may have been due to extreme weather conditions last year (it was freezing with threat of snow). This year however, the expo space was larger, there were no crowds (minus the cheerleaders who happened to be at the convention center at the same time), and the selection of vendors was vastly improved. I actually spent some time wandering around this year whereas last year I left as quickly as possible.
Another improvement was definitely the start/finish location. The race is now held at Centennial Park. It’s not that far from the old location but it’s a much nicer space, easily accessible via public transit, and has several public restrooms outside of the port-o-potties provided by the race. I NEVER saw a line for the bathrooms. #Win. The location made the finish more fun as well since there’s more spaces to sit and enjoy your chocolate bowl and hang out after the race. Sitting in a huge parking lot at Turner Field last year was much less enjoyable (besides the freezing temps).
The overall course was similar to last year and very fun, running through some of my favorite neighborhoods. As is the case with many Atlanta courses, it’s a hilly one but overall gain in around 350ft. This means that while there a lot of ‘ups’, there’s plenty of great downhills. My legs really enjoyed that and I had a 4 min PR over last year’s course. I also appreciate how the aid stations serve Nuun, which is higher quality, in my opinion, than your standard Gatorade. Admittedly, Nuun isn’t for everyone and I do know some people, including BibRave Pro Samantha, who really hate the stuff. In any case, serving Nuun on a race course is pretty “classy” in terms of quality so I give management credit for that. The chocolate and marshmallows at each aid station are decent but I do wish they offered some “normal” race snacks as well, such as Gu or Sport Beans. I always carry my own nutrition but I know a lot of participants rely on what the race offers; too many marshmallows in a race will probably make for a less fun race experience.
The chocolate bowl and medal essentially stayed the same. The hot chocolate is really tasty but I’m not really a fan of the other stuff in the bowl. I don’t keep my bowl but I do know of some people who clean it out and use it as a window garden box. The best swag this year was definitely the improved jacket: better material than last year, hooded, thumb holes, flattering. I will actually wear this one!
Once again I had a great time at this race and will probably try to run it again next year. In fact, I was so happy after the race I almost planned a trip to the Nashville event on Feb. 11 but it conflicted with my training schedule. Maybe next year!
Check out my BibRave review for this year’s race and sign up for one of the upcoming races around the country! Use the following codes to score a free visor to add to your swag bag!
- HC Dallas (2/4/17) – Code: DALHCBR
- HC Nashville (2/11/17) – Code: NashvilleBRHC
- HC Vegas (2/26/17) – Code: BRVEGASHC
- HC Seattle (3/5/17) – Code: HCSEABR
- HC San Diego (3/19/17) – Code: SDBRHC
- HC Philly (4/1/17) – Code: BRPhillyHC
- HC Minneapolis (4/15/17) – Code: MinnHCBR