Guest Race Recap: Hot Chocolate, Hot Mess

So apparently Las Vegas Rock N Roll doesn’t have a monopoly on race hijinks and mess ups. Back here in little ol’DC, another race was going down the poop catcher. A race known as the Hot Chocolate 15k. A race that, had I not been in Vegas on December 3rd, I too would have been running.

Instead, I suckered other friends into running it, including our guest recapper, Katie. She’s been kind enough (and, on the Poe Scale of Hilarity, is funny enough) to write a post on the event.

Top 5 Fails of the Hot Chocolate 15K

By Katie Guest Bloggerson

The Hot Chocolate 15K hit the Washington area last weekend and, to play on the race theme, burned the District’s tongue.

Put on by RAM Racing, a for-profit professional race organizing company, this was the worst race I have ever run—and I say that with 40+ races under my belt. While there were plenty of complaints about the choice of location (National Harbor), the lack of public transportation in a city rife with options, and the swag (semi-transparent running jacket), these did not make my top five, mostly because I knew most of those things in advance. Without further ado, I present the top five fails of the Hot Chocolate 15K:

 1.       Pants on Fire! 

I spent 4 hours on the Wilson Bridge last weekend: 1.5 hours going to packet pickup on Friday evening and 2.5 hours trying to get to the race Saturday morning. What I learned from the Friday experience is that heavy traffic on a one lane road was a recipe for disaster—or at least for road rage and jerks driving up the shoulder because they are so much more important than the rest of the plebeians. But I consoled myself with the fact that I had a parking pass for National Harbor for race day and the traffic couldn’t be as bad because they only gave out a limited number of passes. What was that limited number? I’m glad you asked! It was 15,000. 15,000 runners got a parking pass of the 20,000 total.

As you can imagine this led to a clusterf*%# of epic proportions. RAM Racing decided it would be a good idea to let us know what was causing the delay (incompetence on a massive scale), but seeing as it was inconvenient to tell the truth, the company chose to invent an accident as the reason for crawling traffic. Suspicion grew when no one had seen the alleged accident and it wasn’t reported on the radio, and, as Washingtonian reported, suspicion was correct.

2.       #EpicFail

In addition to the “accident” conspiracy theory posts dominating RAM Racing’s Facebook wall was a chorus of angry voices demanding to know why the start was delayed, if they would make it across the bridge, and why no one was informing runners of start time developments. What’s worse, there was obviously a RAM Racing employee online because someone was taking down critical comments on Facebook. I’m in the communications field and the cardinal sin of social media is removing the “social” element, positive or negative.  The only exception is when it violates the obvious rules—profanity, expressed threats, etc.

 RAM Racing chose to remove everything negative to the point that one frustrated commenter created a new fan page, Epic Fail Hot Chocolate 5K and 15K, that earned more than 1,200 fans in less than 24 hours. Although it removed all comments from the day of the race, RAM Racing eventually threw in the towel on removing negative comments after it posted its official statement after the race (see item 5).

 3.       Life is a Highway, I Want to Run It?

Are you a people person? Better yet, a people person that hates personal space? Then this was the race for you. I expect to run/shuffle shoulder-to-shoulder with racers at the start line, but I didn’t expect it to last the full 9.3 miles. The upside of the clogged course was that it distracted from the fact we were running on a highway, still open to a lane of traffic, with no scenery (unless you count the two apartment complexes and a gas station we jogged by).

 4.       Involuntary Imprisonment at National Harbor

My limited edition parking pass cost me a handsome $10, so I was very surprised to learn that I couldn’t actually exit the parking garage with the pass. As my group and I finally headed home, we drove to the exit only to find a ticket system, no attendant, and a bar barricading our exit from this nightmare. After some phone calls and conversations with other runners, we left the garage 15 minutes later.

5.       What Doesn’t Kill Us is Good Enough for RAM

In a statement more than 1,100 words long, RAM Racing painted itself the victim of bad advice. I really can’t stress this enough—RAM Racing puts on these events for a living. They can blame fake accidents, Maryland road crews, and police officers all they want, but almost every major problem was 100% avoidable. The bottom line: RAM Racing was not an innocent bystander.

Just a note on the gag factor—RAM Racing actually used the phrase, “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” If that doesn’t show the utter lack of perspective this company suffers, I’m not sure what does. 

 

Being the holiday season, I feel the need to say something charitable. The chocolate fondue boxes at the post-event party were pretty solid and helped to counter the bitter taste left by the race. Plus, this debacle gave me an opportunity to write a guest post for the Poe Log, making it all worth it. 

(EDITOR: HA! Told you that girl was funny).

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