Hot Chocolate 15k – Race Recap

Can I really call this a race recap since I never made it to the race? Yup, you read right…I paid $65 to sit in traffic for 2 hours. But let me back up and explain from the beginning.

I woke up at 4:30 with the plan of leaving the house with mom at 6:00. I figured 2 hours to go 10 miles and park was plenty of time. I did my usual pre-race thing – water, banana with sun butter, stretching. I played with Bill for a few then layered up.

I wore capris, a long-sleeved Under Armour shirt, a t-shirt, race vest, gloves and ear warmers. I also added some Christmas sparkle to the ensemble with steller accessories purchased from Five Below.

Mom arrived and we were on our way. We chatted and listened to the radio as we drove. We got about 4 miles from the Wilson Bridge and then suddenly stopped. All around us were cars filled with runners and we weren’t going anywhere any time soon.

I’ve lived in the DC area long enough to expect traffic in any situation. I also know that getting across the Wilson Bridge is a nightmare at almost every time of day. So we stayed patient and inched along with all of the other cars.

But as the minutes ticked by and we were literally moving just a foot at a time, we both realized that there was no way we would make it to the race in time. I started to panic, and on top of that I really had to pee. All the while, I continuously checked RAM – Hot Chocolate’s Facebook and Twitter for updates.

The only update they posted in 2 hours of sitting on the road was one reporting an accident at the National Harbor exit. On RAM – Hot Chocolate’s Facebook page people started to get frustrated and freak out. There were hundreds of comments from people who were in the same situation as I was – all stuck on the Beltway outside of the National Harbor.

Not knowing if the race was going to be delayed, I finally made the decision to have mom pull off the Beltway and take me to a bathroom. If we would have stayed on any longer, we would have been out of exits and stuck on the bridge with nowhere to go.

As we pulled off, we looked across the bridge and saw the loooong line of cars that weren’t moving. This was about 20 minutes before start time. I knew we weren’t going to make it. I was on the verge of tears when I told mom to just keep driving. The race was a total wash.

We decided to drive into Old Town to do some shopping at the farmer’s market. Finally, after the races were supposed to start, RAM – Hot Chocolate updated their Facebook saying that they were delaying the 5k and 15k 15 minutes. This created an uproar because 15 minutes was not nearly enough time for people to get to the start line.

As we walked around, I kept refreshing the Facebook page on my phone and read angry comment after angry comment. We stopped at talk to runners who, like me, couldn’t get to the race and decided to go to breakfast in Old Town instead. I saw many people still wearing their bibs and race gear. Old Town was as close as we could get to the National Harbor.

I was disappointed, but felt better when I saw there were lots of other runners who made the same decision that I did. The morning wasn’t a total bust. Mom and I did some shopping and enjoyed the sights of the Scottish Festival.

I was mad about the organization and planning of the RAM – Hot Chocolate 15k, but I didn’t let it ruin my day. That was, until they started deleting Facebook comments. I commented twice while we were in traffic, saying that we were stopped before the bridge, and another saying that we were bailing out. I commented solely to let other runners know what was going on, because RAM – Hot Chocolate was not updating any of their social media pages.

None of my comments were abrasive or rude, nor did I insult the race staff. I was just updating about my situation on the RAM – Hot Chocolate page. When I saw what they were doing, I got pissed. Not only did I waste my money signing up for a race that I couldn’t even run, but they were editing their Facebook page by deleting angry comments.

As a company who really dropped the ball, they should have been ready for a backlash. They later made a statement saying the comments that had cursing, spamish language or were abrasive were  deleted. I saw many comments that were none of these things and were later deleted. All I could think was, how about Hot Chocolate and RAM spend more time rectifying their cluster f*ck of a race instead of trying to edit angry, paying runners.

 I am not one to complain. I have run enough races and lived in the DC area long enough to know that stuff happens. Traffic is beyond anyone’s control. But to delete and block people who are upset because you did a poor job of organizing, is just bullshit.

RAM and Hot Chocolate, you oversold your race. You picked a venue that could not handle the number of runners. You left us hanging when we were trying to figure out what was going on. And that was only my experience.

click here for more angry runners

Apparently, you left the runners that were there to stand at the start line in the cold for 2 hours with very little updates. You planned a dangerous course partially ran on an open highway. Volunteers, shuttle drivers, parking attendants and police officers were not properly informed of the race information and led lots of runners astray. AND (this is just crazy to me) some runners had to pour their own water and mix their own Gatorade because the water stations were not properly manned.

Bravo RAM and Hot Chocolate. It took you 24 hours to come out with an apology and in the statement you blamed everyone else for your terribly planned race, including the National Harbor and PG County police. Blaming police officers? What is up with that?! The apology was ridiculous and did not address what most people wanted which was a refund, coupon, anything to fix the fact that over half the runners could not make it to the race.

I don’t even give a crap about my $65 race fee. Donate a portion to charity like you promised, and use the rest to hire a race team that cares about runners and not about making money. Delete my (non abrasive) comments from Facebook, but you can’t delete my blog. I was willing to give you the benefit of a doubt when lots of other people were upset about the race expo. I even defended you. I will never sign up for another RAM race. I will use this race as an example of why I will stick to my local race companies who are in it to put on a good race and not to make a profit.

Marine Corps Marathon, Pacers, J&A Racing…keep up the good work. RAM can take some notes from you guys.

Sorry if this was long-winded. And if you had a positive experience in this weekend’s race, then I am super happy for you. Hopefully, some people got something out of it. And at the end of the day, I am thankful that I have my health and the ability to run races.

Just run and have a fab one.

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3 responses to “Hot Chocolate 15k – Race Recap

  1. I ran. I made it to start line with minimal problems. I stood on start line for 1 hr and 25 minutes freezing…. Was even debating to walk off line and go home. It was crazy! It was chipped time….they could of started on time and let people start as they got there. National Harbor was beautiful but not a place for a race that size! Sorry you missed the start. I too will never run another RAM race!

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