Hot Chocolate 15K Chicago Recap

Sunday, November 9th marked my final race in 2014.  I’ve always wanted to run the Hot Chocolate race, but due to scheduling conflicts, I was never able too.  When I found out that I was going to be in town, I immediately put the race on my schedule.  The only bad thing since I’m training for Dopey, my mileage that week was supposed to be very high (day of the race, I was supposed to do 11 more miles!).   I ended up just switching my weeks around and made the 15k race the week I was only supposed to do a six mile long run.

I went to the expo on Saturday morning.  Since I don’t live in Chicago and the expo location is not very public transportation friendly, I just drove from my house to the expo.  Since I knew it was going to be crazy, I left early and got there in no time.  Side note, when I was leaving, the parking lot was crazy…so happy, I’m smart and go to these things early!



Packet pickup was pretty easy.  While I was waiting in line for a free giveaway, I ran into my old high school golf coach.  What a small world—this race has 40,000 people and I ran into her at the expo.  She’s wicked fast and about the size of a twig!

This race prides itself in the swag.  The jacket I received is very nice and super warm!  You can see it on their website!

I ended up getting some gloves and a headband for the race (sadly, my dad lost my headband when I was done with the race…maybe Lauren can get me one in STL?? 🙂 ) since the temperatures were going to be super cold.  Other than that, there were a few other vendors, but I really didn’t need anything, so I left.  But of course, I did get a chocolate marshmallow and a square of chocolate before I left!

The race had a two wave start and I was to start in the second wave starting at 7:45 am.  Lesson learned, I need to start lying on these “huge 5k races”—even though I was in the correct corral for my time that I put down, so many people were not!  It makes races very frustrating for “runners” versus “people who are just doing it for fun”.

Benson family ( minus Lauren) selfie!

Benson family ( minus Lauren) selfie!

They encouraged us to get there at 6:45, so my parents and I left my house at 5 am.  This was the first race that both of my parents were at.  My mom watched Lauren and I race our first half marathon in July 2013, but has not seen me run since.  My dad had never seen me run beforehand.   We ended to the train and were downtown in plenty of time.

At the train station on the way to the race!

At the train station on the way to the race!

When I realized that we were there early, I tried to sneak into an earlier corral, but when I saw the volunteers strictly enforcing corral placements, I just had to be content with starting later.

Grabbed a pic with my mom before the race started!

Grabbed a pic with my mom before the race started!

A little before 8 am, I was off!  My goal for this race was to be around 1:35.  Unfortunately, it was freezing cold (my toes felt like they were frozen solid) and it was a little windy too.  Plus there were tons of people on the course.  I knew that it would be a struggle to reach 1:35.  Plus I knew I had an intense week of running the following week, so I didn’t want to push it too much.

Along the route, there were water stops and sweet stops (strawberry marshmallow, tootsie roll and a chocolate marshmallow too).  I stopped at all the water stops and the first two sweet stops but by the third my stomach was a bit confused and I didn’t want to throw up eating the chocolate marshmallow.

The route was pretty good thru the tunnels of Chicago and then along another scenic route I had never been on.   Honestly, I was just trying to warm up most of the race, so speed was not on my top priority list.

Once I finally made it to the finish (I had to stop twice to tie my shoes (always the same shoe!) and text my parents (which they never got…ugh), I made it to the finish and picked up the bling!  My official time was 1:39:53– not 1:35… but oh well!  Then my parents and I trekked thru the park to get my mug filled with hot chocolate, rice krispie, cookies, pretzels, banana and chocolate to dip my goodies in.  The mug was super messy, so I had to throw it away after I had eaten the goodies.  Besides the mug was made of cheap plastic, so it’s not something that you would really save.


Here are my pros and cons of the race


— Cute medal and awesome jacket!



–Super crowded (40,000 runners)—not ideal “racing”

–5k and 15k started at the same time… probably a big factor in the overcrowding

— Weather—but what can you really do about that?!

–Expo location—sucks not having a convenient location for public transportation

–Expensive—Over $70 for a 15k.  That’s crazy.  I usually spend less than that on a half marathon and that’s 4 more miles!

Will I do the race again?  Probably not.  I’m over having to get up early (I got up about 4:15 to get ready) and deal with crazy crowds downtown Chicago.  The only race I have left that I want to do in Chicago is the Chicago Marathon, which won’t be for a few years.  I might do the Chicago Half eventually, but who knows.

Lauren is running this race in St Louis next month, so it will be interesting to read what she thinks about it!



10 thoughts on “Hot Chocolate 15K Chicago Recap

  1. I laughed at the getting up early comment. Umm, do you know what time you have to get up for the Dopey Challenge? Each one starts at 5:30 (I think one at 6) so that means a 2:30 or 3:00 wake up call because they require you to get there early (and depending on where you are staying). And again maybe I am missing something about the expo public transportation. Unless, I am thinking of a different location, there are buses to/from McCormick Place. The price is ridiculously high. Great job on finishing another race!

  2. Good recap- I agree with so many things you said! And I’m so bummed I didn’t get to see you or your parents! I’m in the same boat as you- for Chicago races I’m just kinda over not only getting there super early but the packet pick up for it also. But I still got some Chicago races I need to do- like the shamrock shuffle (I know it’s not your fave lol) and the Chicago marathon one day!

    What Chicago halfs are you thinking of doing? My friend wants me to join then for the Chicago spring half in May!

    • Probably the Chicago Half Marathon in September… but I’m not sure because that’s a good time for out of state races too :).

      • Cool-keep me updated! I def want to do the chicago half series, and the one in sept didn’t appeal to me for a long time since it always fell on my bday, but not next year, so we shall see! i’m also interested in the RnR, Zooma, and Magnificent Mile half for other Chicago ones-I need something to get myself to keep running!

  3. The goodies sound delicious! I had no idea these races were so big. No wonder it was crowded, especially with them starting at the same time.

    • Chicago is the biggest one, I believe. The headquarters for these races is in Chicago (I actually interviewed and got offered a job with them in January– so glad I didn’t take it!!) so it is the biggest of them all!

  4. Great recap! I’m sorry…”sweet stops?” Count me in! Haha. But I hear ya on the price/crowding. Probably something that’s fun to do once, though!

  5. Pingback: Sister to Sister Running Blog | 2014 Recap Part 2

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