I ran the Hot Chocolate 15k in Chicago last Sunday. It was awesome! There was also a 5k and between both events there were over 32,000 finishers making it one of Chicago’s biggest races. Sponsored by Allstate, Hot Chocolate has become one of those kind of iconic races that everyone does. With Shamrock Shuffle which opens the Chicago race season in March, it serves as as a bookend to the season in November.
Hot Chocolate Chicago is part of the bigger Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k brand that is billed as “America’s Sweetest Race.” It involves 24 races across the U.S.
This was my first year running the Chicago event (I have not done any of the others) and I will certainly be back. Aside from some logistical issues getting into our B corral it was a well run event. The congestion getting to the corral from bag check honestly could have been avoided if we had gotten there earlier. It was a 7am start though, and with temps hovering around freezing, we just didn’t want to be waiting around longer that we had to, nor did we want to get up any earlier. Our bad.
The start and finish were on Columbus Drive similar to Shamrock Shuffle and the Marathon. The course then made a left staying on Lower Wacker until the 1 mile mark when we surfaced at Garvey Street. It wound around Lake, Clark and Van Buren and onto Michigan Avenue heading south. The 5k runners split off making the left on Roosevelt heading to the finish back on Columbus. 15k runners stayed straight basically picking up the blue line and following the Marathon course in the opposite direction until 31st Street where it stayed straight to Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and south to 35th Street.
It should be noted that in addition to water and Nuun, aid stations along the course also had chocolate. I passed on it in an effort to stay on pace, also knowing there was more of that – much more – expected at the finish. Some additional perks included a quality race-branded zip-up hoodie and free race photos.
The course highlight for me was going over Lake Shore Drive via the bridge at W. 35th Street to the Lakefront Trail – first for me. From here the course was mostly Lakefront Trail. We stayed on the lake side of McCormick Place (I hate the service road/tunnel!), did a fly-by of Soldier Field and passed back under Lake Shore Drive at mile 9, just past the Museum Campus, heading back to the finish on Columbus. The 15k course might be the best mix of city streets and lakefront of any of the Chicago races I’ve done.
The real fun began at the finish line. There were finishers medals for both the 5k and 15k, with the 15k’s being a large replica of a chocolate bar. The post race party included, of course, hot chocolate, as well as some chocolate fondu and an assortment of fruit, pretzels and marshmallows for dipping. It was delicious! I really have to applaud the organizers for not going cheap here. The hot chocolate was really rich, not the watered down kind often served at events.
The Allstate Hot Chocolate 15k/5k is organized by RAM Racing and the Chicago race was included as one of their “Run this Town” series events. In addition to our finishers medal for the day, we also received another medal for completing four races in the series. The other races we did for that achievement included Cinco de Miler (early May), Soldier Field 10 (Memorial Day weekend), and the Bucktown 5k (October).
The final race in the “Run this Town” series is the North Shore Turkey Trot. We’ll be doing that one too (no additional medal for being an overachiever) and then our 2019 racing season in Chicago really comes to a close.