Disclaimer: I received a race-entry, VIP package & accommodations 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!"
The Cap City Half was an awesome #runcation / #racecation, even if the weather didn’t cooperate!
If you’ve been thinking about a #runcation, here’s the scoop: Sign up for this race, splurge for the VIP package, and book the race hotel (the Sheraton Downtown). It’s a combo that guarantees an amazing weekend. We headed home on cloud nine, and I can honestly say this is one of the best race operations I’ve have the opportunity to experience.
Pre-race communications were spot on. Emails started arriving on Monday of race week with important details about timing, location, etc. saving me the trouble of looking things up during preparations for our trip.
Even before getting into town I called the hotel to confirm reservations, etc. and the front desk manager, Stacy, was so helpful I felt like the VIP experience started before we left home. Although the VIP package isn’t tied to the hotel at all, the hotel clearly rolls out the red carpet for the race.
At packet pickup, VIPs were directed to an upstairs balcony—away from the hubbub—and offered a glass of champage upon arrival. I did know there would be VIP packet pickup, but I did not expect a champagne reception! That was quite a way to set the tone for the weekend.
The race offers packet pickup starting on Thursday afternoon (the race is on Saturday), so we took advantage of the early pickup and enjoyed a night on the town without pre-race food restrictions or early bed-times cramping our style. This is what truly gave us the opportunity to make it a #runcation, so a huge thumbs up for Thursday packet pickup!
The VIP swag bag was a nice drawstring bag that I’ll use again (not the typical plastic/disposable bag), as well as a nice Adidas tech long sleeve half-zip—with thumbholes. And I love thumbholes. 😃 Also included in the swag bag was a fabric bracelet to wear for access to the VIP tent at the race.
ALL of the goodie bags included free food and drink tickets, as they were attached to the bib. The bags also included a race “magazine”, which I’ve only seen for a few races and this was by far the most interesting. Pro tip: read about the elite racers when you get the magazine so you know who you’re running in to at the race hotel. ;-)
It’s such a luxury to stay at the race hotel—what a treat! I still got up ridiculously early to start fueling and stretching, but without travel and parking to worry about, I was way more relaxed race morning than usual. It also helps now that I don’t freak out about it being “race day” and treat it like “just another run”—with crowd and nutrition support. 😉)
Logistics should be easily manageable no matter where you’re coming from as there are parking garages nearby. Note: the VIP package includes a free parking pass.
With rain looming as it was time to line up, I checked a bag even though the finish is basically at the hotel. I’ve learned that I chill very quickly after a race and dealing with bag check to have something warm and dry waiting is worth it. In this case, the VIP pass came in handy again as there was a private VIP bag check that was super fast to drop-off (and pick up).
Also located in the VIP tent/area were additional porta-potties and catered breakfast. I forgot to take a peek to see what was for breakfast, as my feeding schedule didn’t mesh with picking up something at the race. I had asked around a bit at the expo but couldn’t find the answer to what would be served, so that mystery will continue until next year…
The corrals seemed well managed and spacious, with lots of porta-potties right next to the corrals. After a little more warming up, I hopped in not long before the Star Spangled Banner. This race featured a local celebrity announcer for each wave, which was a neat additional way for them to include sponsors, etc.
Given the forecast, most of the bands that would have been set up (understandably) opted-out so we didn’t get to experience a band every mile. I had really been looking forward to that extra energy, but totally support safety first!
Columbus is a pretty flat course, and known to be great for PRs. As we wound up with the course being shortened mid-race, the most I can say is that I was PRing every intermediate distance and on track for a great overall race. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to prove it’s a great PR course next time around. ;-)
Wow! What a medal! And what a storm! Race support did a great job of quickly shepherding people off the course and into shelter. I wound up grabbing my bag and heading straight to the hotel, figuring I’d head back to check out the food after the rain let up. In the meantime, the after-party got cancelled, so I missed my opportunity to sample the amazing-sounding post-race spread.
All runners were to receive a slice of Papa John’s pizza, a Coors Light, one sparkling wine, and a Patron margarita. And as if that weren’t enough, VIPs were also to receive a catered lunch! I’m looking forward to checking out all of the food and the post-race concert next time around.
Despite a rain-out, we had a wonderful time in Columbus for this race. I whole-heartedly recommend it, and can’t say enough about all of the VIP perks. You get a ton extras like tech half-zip, a parking pass, catered breakfast and lunch—and an “eased” race day experience with shorter lines, etc. If you’re looking for a #runcation, put the Cap City Half on your list!
Disclaimer: I received a race entry 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!
Running a new distance is always fun, because it's a guaranteed PR—and this race was no exception. Thanks to the Hot Chocolate 15k, I can put another PR in the books! :-) Here are a few other highlights of the day.
The Hot Chocolate 15k delivers on the chocolate theme, starting with the inflatables on the race site. I tried to take this mug of hot chocolate home with me, but as you can see it was a little too big to fit in my suitcase. ;-)
As you may notice in the picture, the park was a bit flooded from the rain, which did put a bit of a damper on the day. I gave up trying to keep my shoes dry pretty quickly—it was basically impossible to get around to bag check, etc. without walking through the muck. My shoes were a muddy mess after the event, but after a quick spin in the washing machine they were like new before I packed to head home. Thanks, Angie!
I was lucky to be joining local friends who have done this race many times and knew where to park, etc. so that took a fair bit of stress out of race morning. Once at the site, all of the tents were well marked and super-efficient:
One of the many nice things about the Hot Chocolate race series is the opportunity to apply for a preferred corral. I've not had this experience before, nor do I consider myself fast. However, I've gotten just fast enough to appreciate the opportunity to avoid the dodging and weaving that becomes a part of races where the seeding isn't very accurate (or formalized at all).
I was surprised to learn that my corral, "J", was the first corral. It turns out that the lettering scheme begins with the 5k which started earlier in the morning. The 15k lined up next. The line up is where things got confusing, because apparently the signs the pacers were using had two different times on them for the two different races. I didn't realize this, and happened to find the "wrong" group of 9 min. mile pacers. By the time I discovered my error and started working my way forward, the race was already starting. Oops!
I spent the first bit of the race catching up to my teammate, and after that the miles flew by. This was our first time meeting each other, and running a few miles together was a great way to get to know each other and forget about the drizzly day. Thanks for keeping me company, Amy!
The course was well designed to be a closed course and take in some local scenery. On a less gloomy day, I'm sure it's a beautiful course! Much of the race is along the Mississippi River, which should have been a clue to me that it wasn't going to be a truly flat course. (After several years of riding RAGBRAI, I've learned land gets "rolly" around the Mississippi and Missouri rivers.) The elevation map would have been a clue, too, if I had looked at it. ;-) Not that the course is hard—and according to the locals the course isn't hilly—just normal for around town. I'll let you be the judge based on the data and where you live:
After all of the pre-race chatter about treats on course like marshmallows and such, it was a disappointment not to experience that. I'm guessing that the rain may have been a factor in this. Though I'm not sure the rain explains why there also wasn't nuun at some stations? In a 15k, it's not a big deal, it was simply a surprise to be told there wasn't nuun at one of the later aid stations given their sponsorship and all. I've heard so many good things about the Hot Chocolate aid station experience, I'm sure this isn't typical.
If you're in to collecting medals, the Hot Chocolate medal is definitely one to add to your collection! The chocolate bar is a cool idea, and a serious piece of bling. Here are my friends Theresa and Angie showing off their new hardware.
After picking up the hardware, the next stop was the post race food—the true highlight of the Hot Chocolate 15k. I had as much chocolate as I could possibly want and still took home a huge mug full of treats! Fortunately, the teenagers back at Angie's place were happy to help us with the leftovers. ;-) Amy snapped this nice photo of the huge mug full of dipping chocolate and treats to dip in it:
The biggest thing I would change about this race is to have the water bottles near the food vs. at the finish (on the other side of the park)—or to at least have *some* water accessible near the food. It's a little hard to wash down chocolate treats with hot chocolate, especially after a long run.
All in all, it was a fun event with a cool medal, great treats, and good friends—both old and new. With a PR to boot! Highly recommend the Hot Chocolate 15k!
As originally posted at BibRave. See all of my race reviews at BibRave.com.
My kids have only done a couple of Epic Races, but they already know to expect a nice spread after each race! This race was no exception, with pumpkin pie accompanying more traditional post-race snacks. Personally, I loved the chicken broth—after a dramatic drop in temps from the previous day, plus snow while we were on the run, chicken broth never tasted so good!
What caught my eye about this race was the "Iron Turkey" option—running both the 5k + 10k. This worked out great as I ran the 5k with my family, had time to celebrate with them a bit, and then headed back out for the 10k. The race also offers a one-mile fun run after the start of the 10k, giving young families a great way to be involved (and stay busy!) during the race.
The venue for this race is great, it's at Hudson Mills Metro Park. The run is on a scenic, mostly paved path, and the very few "hills" are pretty gentle rollers. The start is held on a gravel trail, enabling the race to set up tents in a grassy field for food, pre-race warm-ups, massage, etc. The tents were a nice safe haven from the precip while we waited for 5k runners to finish and start the 10k. After a short stint on the gravel, the centerpiece of the race is on a nicely paved trail, with a short run up to the finish on gravel.
Another unique twist to this race is that the first place finishers (both male and female) take home a turkey for Thanksgiving! While I didn't take home a turkey, I did manage to snag a 3rd place finish in my age group (first time ever!), thanks to the great pacers who were part of the event.
Overall, the best part about this particular event turned out to be my sons "epic" finish—they sprinted to the finish line and finished with exactly the same time. :-) Looking forward to the rematch!