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Hot Chocolate 15K Devolves Into Hot Mess, Participants Say

Moving the race to a non-Metro-serviced area led to traffic jams, overcrowding, and plenty of angry Facebook comments.

This past weekend’s highly anticipated Hot Chocolate 15K race at National Harbor was, well, a Hot Mess.

From overcrowding to extreme traffic congestion, the only good part about the day, some runners tweeted, was the hot chocolate.

The disaster began with various auto accidents on the highway, which caused the race to be pushed back from 8 AM to after 9 AM.

“Attempting to get to Hot Chocolate 15K race,” tweeted Ray Maker, the founder of DC Rainmaker. “Complete disaster getting to race. 20K racers to a non-Metro-serving area simply doesn’t work.” (To read Maker’s full account of the race, click here.) 

From then on, it was like a domino effect of problems.

Once runners made it to the race, there was an issue with parking at the National Harbor. In a statement released yesterday, the owner of RAM Racing admitted there were not enough hands on deck to handle the influx of cars, which in turn created even more traffic backups.

Then once the race started, the lead 5K biker was apparently misdirected by a police officer and made a wrong turn, throwing the original route completely off course.

To top things off, yet another traffic accident occurred mid-race, causing all returning shuttle buses for the participants to be delayed.

RAM Racing’s apology wasn’t enough to appease participants, at least according to the 507 comments left on the Hot Chocolate 15K Facebook page as of 1 PM today. One participant wrote, “This explanation is as bad as the race itself!” Another said, “Should have been called the I-95 Run-Walk 5K. Thanks for the explanation, but this will be the last Hot Chocolate I ever run.”

We contacted race organizers but haven’t heard back. We’ll update this post if and when we receive a response.

RAM Racing is encouraging runners to share their thoughts on the event’s Facebook page, but participants have created their own page to air their grievances at Epic Fail—Hot Chocolate 5K/15K.

The Hot Chocolate race takes place in Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, and DC. The next race will take place in San Diego on March 25.

Update: Local police department says there were no reports of auto accidents the day of the race. Click here for more information.

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  • Davidnajman

    The chicago race this year was probably worse than what you described. They have not been able to post correct times, (4/7 people I knew who ran have wrong or no time), no phone to contact. Unable to view from anywhere as a spectator at the start and very difficult to get to finish line with very limited access. Incredibly poor organization who is running it, and not having learned from prior mistakes makes it even worse. USATF should seriously look at RAM and consider not allowing them to sponsor races.

  • melrom

    Hi David. Sorry to hear about your poor experience at this year's Hot Chocolate race in Chicago, and thanks for sharing. Turns out it will not be returning to DC this year either.

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