Disclaimer: I received free entry to the Hot Chocolate 15K race 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 year was my 4th year running this race. Also the 4th year the race has ever been held in Philly. My streak stays alive!
Complete honesty, I really wish the race directors would put more effort into the expo for this race. I say this every year I run it, but the expo is in serious need of some help. Don’t get me wrong, they have a lot going on there. You can buy gear, it’s a smooth pick up process and they even have a DJ playing music. However it’s small and always held in what feels like a boiler room. They hold the expo in the Philly Convention Hall. This is a huge building that stretches across multiple blocks of Philadelphia. And since all major races host their expo in one of the halls, I know they can do better. It feels like this race takes the smallest, cheapest room available to host the expo in. Instead of one of the many large halls that are well lit, carpeted and spacious they hold it in the room that has a concrete floor, dark and looks like a boiler room.
None the less the expo is still enjoyable. As I mentioned you can make last minute purchases of course support gear or even buy official race merchandise. They have a DJ playing music and even are giving away chocolate. Plus bib pick up is always top notch. Instead of lining up for your specific bib number you can go up to any line and they print your information for your bib right there. I like that because it is using technology to their advantage to make for an easier process.
Regardless, I hope out of towners don’t get a bad impression of Philly race expos, trust me they can be better.
The one thing that makes this race stand out is the swag. Instead of offering a traditional t-shirt runners can enjoy an official race jacket. Each runner gets one whether you run the 15K or 5K. Having run 4 years in a row I can confirm this is something they give every year. And truth be told they get better year after year.
I am continuing to build my collection:
For out of towners or first time Philly runners the course is a lot of fun. You get a taste of the city, plus get to see some famous views. The course begins at the art museum (the famous rocky steps) runs into the city for about a mile, turns around and heads back up MLK Drive. Then you turn back around at mile 5 and head back to the art museum steps. On the way back runners run along the Schuylkill river and get a first hand look at Boathouse Row. (A beautiful site every time).
I say this is awesome for out of towners or first time Philly runners, because unfortunately this is the same course that a majority of runs in Philly offer. Sadly while Philly is a major metropolitan area, running in the actual city rarely ever happens. I have blogged about this many times, but it is my belief that the cost to close off Philly streets is too high to justify. So as a result most (if not all) Philly races run the same course: 1 mile in the city, the remainder on the MLK loop. So to be honest the course for this race is really no different than any other race the city has to offer.
However it is one of the few 15K distance races Philly has to offer, and rarely do you get a 5K to run this course. So while the course itself is very common the distances for the area are not. Perfect for the runner who isn’t quite ready for the Half Marathon distance but wants to get a taste of Philly running.
While there are some things I would change, this is still a very fun race. It’s family themed, while also being a challenging enough distance. Also with the jacket and post run chocolate (as well as chocolate on the course) it is worth putting on your race schedule.
Have you run this race before? Or interested in running it? Check it out on BibRave.