Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Chicago 2012 Expo Debacle…


I’d like to preface this post with the fact that I honestly don’t like complainers.  I also don’t like to read blog postings constantly slamming events and race management.  The idea of managing and executing a big race is not easy and I fully acknowledge such and give them the appropriate amount of respect slack.  However, as a blogger, I believe I have a bit of a responsibility to tell “the reader” what’s up in the race arena. If we want to “go there”, I run more races in a year than some will ever run in a lifetime. So I know races, I know expos, I know that the only thing to expect is the UNEXPECTED but I too have limits.   So…..

How often does an expo get a post of its very own?  Not often unless one doesn’t have much else to do or say its really amazing or its really, REALLY bad.   Well, congratulations to RAM Racing for pulling a 2nd expo post out of me (I posted on last year’s expo HERE) …… and it wasn’t cuz it was amazing.  In fact, I wouldn’t even know if the 2012 expo were amazing because after I waited in line for 1 hour and 57 minutes OUTSIDE IN THE COLD, on my lunch “hour”, I was no longer amused by the chocolaty theme and just needed to leave.  

The 2012 Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Chicago race called for some changes.  To be honest, I’m not sure I would have registered but my girl, Nicky and I ran last year, we loved it, then spent the afternoon post race downtown bar hopping shopping.  So we she wanted a repeat.  Done.  Let’s do it!  Right? 

WRONG!  Things have gotten off to a bit of a rough start and I’m not even to the race yet.  Pam and I thought we’d pop over to the “new and improved” expo site in a Soldier Field parking lot at LUNCH to grab our packets.  Now, I go ALL THE TIME at lunch to pick up packets and while I won’t necessarily say I manage it all within my lunch “hour”, its usually close enough to make it happen.  Pam and I were excited as we stepped out of the cab:

Hot Choc_2012 w Pam at packet PU

Until we notice this massive line and about 40 port-o-potties lined up on the “other” side of the line.  Say what?  How far does that go down?  Are we really going to need those port-o-potties?

Hot Choc_2012 line 1 How much time do we have?  How long do you think that line will take?  Let’s see what Twitter is saying about this…..


That BLANK white box would be where I was going to paste in all of our tweets to Ram Racing while waiting in line for our packets.  The tweets we composed while we were bored standing in line, freezing, in a parking lot.  However, they deleted “our” tweets off their Twitter account.   But they can’t delete the tweets from MY page…..

TooTallFritz@TooTallFritz – Nov 2 – 1:17 pm

@RAMRacing ….. In the horrid line for #HotChocolateRace packet pickup. Word is that Willy Wonka must be inside. Fact or Fiction?

TooTallFritz@TooTallFritz – Nov 2 – 1:25 pm

Thanks @RAMRacing for fueling us while we wait to get our #HotChocolateRace packets.

Hot Choc_2012 Aid Station 1

TooTallFritz@TooTallFritz – Nov 2 – 2:01 pm

Just reached aid station #2 at the @RAMRacing#HotChocolateRace packet pickup. 73 min in & long way to go.

Hot Choc_2012 Aid Station 2Oh, and now we can see that the line is double deep.

Hot Choc_2012 Line 2  

TooTallFritz@TooTallFritz – Nov 2 – 2:47 pm

@michughes @RAMRacing I was 1 hr 57 min for packet pickup.

Wow, that was fun.  I waited.  I was cold.  I got “irritated”.  Pam had to go back to work. I was shocked that I had NEVER been to a more poorly ran packet pick-up.  I couldn’t get the phrase “time is money” out of my head.  I was irritated that somehow my time meant nothing to RAM Racing.  I considered sending them a bill at my hourly rate.  I considered sending them a bill at the hourly rate of the IronWOman surgeon standing next to me.  I considered leaving.  I decided to run the NYC Marathon NEXT year.  I finally got to the port-o-potties that provided a much needed wind break.  I was close.  I was FINALLY inside …… only to realize that there was another line to wait more.  AND THEN I picked up the packets.  One hour and fifty seven minutes.  Not even ONE minute was exaggerated and then I needed to wait in the cab line to head back to work so I could leave for my awesome commute home to get Toddler Man before his school closed up and/or called CPS on me.

Was it worth the wait?  Hmmmm ……. you have to be the judge of that.  This year the swag was a technical, gender specific hoodie.  I don’t like hoodies at all but this fits well and I think looks good.  It’s so much better than I anticipated.

Hot Choc_2012 sweatshirt

And they got my corral right, so that’s a major WIN in their column.  Cool bag too. 

Hot Choc_2012 swag

However, I’ve already decided that on principal alone, I personally need to sit out the 2013 Hot Chocolate Chicago race.  I hope they get their shit together cuz I really like this race.  Or I should say that I liked last year’s race.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring but I have to believe for my own personal sanity that the worse is over.

I’ll see you tomorrow bright and early RAM Racing.  I’m counting on you to bring me an amazing race experience.  Don’t let me down.  Screw up packet pick-up as badly as you did and that’s one thing, screw up the race that’s a whole ‘nother thing. 

I’m watching you.

** Happy Running ** Amanda – TooTallFritz **

12 thoughts on “Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Chicago 2012 Expo Debacle…

  1. Loved reading this, although it does suck that it was a necessary blog post. I only had to wait 30 minutes but I to think this is my third and final year for Hot Chocolate. That makes me sad since 2 years ago it was my first race ever and I looked forward to doing it and improving every year. The chocolate better me darn good tomorrow, and they had better give me more than one piece!! 😉

  2. I am happy that I found you on twitter and can read your blog! Agree with you 100%. I hate to complain, but that expo was a bad one. I really hope for the best tomorrow.

  3. Well…you don’t like complaints? Well…I want to complain about that? LOL. Way to go TTF…I love it when ya pissed…ya just give it this “real-world” and “eye-to-eye” perspective that I love and have learned to trust! If I were RAM Racing….I would be careful and pay attention and maybe give a lot of thought to changing some of the logistics in this Hot Chocolate race pre-race logistics in operations. I recall that post last year…have never ran the HC race…and have no intention of running it or wanting to run it. So…no….the swag/goodies ya picture….aren’t worth the inconvenience….the long wait and other aggravations you describe.

    You can go to Boston Marathon….ING NY Marathon….Chicago Marathon….some of the largest marathons that are held….and ya never wait that long to pick-up race packets and goodie bags…nor do you wait in the cold. So how can some comparatively small race like this HC-thing be so horrible to get your stuff?

    But…to end on a more positive note and offer a different perspective that would put your ordeal far lower on the scale…..give some thought to the ING NY Marathon. It was canceled….but not from the start after that storm cleared….both the Mayor of NY (Bloomberg) and the NYRR club (NY Road Runners Club) were adamant the race would go on without disruption to recovery efforts. So….some 40,000 of the 50,000 field made it to NY….not a cheap endeavor to fly there (especially if ya not US resident)…nor cheap to stay there in the hotels. And they came…and some (like lady friend I pseudo-coach) picked up their packets at the Expo…even spent lots of money buying jackets and garb and stuff at the expo….then…in the 10th hour…the day before the marathon…get the news posts…well before the official posts (in Fact I knew Friday it was canceled based on reports on sports radio AM 1000)…that the marathon is canceled.

    Sorry…no marathon…sorry for the inconvenience…oh…by the way…you can defer your race to next year….but ya will have to pay the $250 registration fee again….and oh-yes…travel to and accommodations too! No compensation…no breaks….no discounts….at least as of yet. And…oh…they do send all the participants a “Dear-John-Mary” thing and at the same time encourage them to contribute $26.20 to the recovery fund the mayor and others are sponsoring. So…how would ya like to experience that fiasco? Seems like HC-race pickup is just a mere inconvenience.

    So…complaints anyone? Humans are great at complaining….I can live with that…finding solutions…a lot harder….but I am a big fan of finding and proposing the solutions.

    Hang in there TTF…love ya perspective! Ya….”aid-stations” and “porta-pottles” for packet pick-up? SUP with that?

    peace all,

  4. I hate complainers too, but a 2 hour wait for your bib is definitely a cause for complaint!!! I felt bad for everyone who got stuck waiting hours in the cold. That is inexcusable. You’re right, time is money, and that is ignorant that RAM thinks it’s OK for you to spend that much of your time just waiting in line. As Frogger pointed out, the other big races do NOT have this problem. The Shamrock Shuffle and Chicago Marathon both also get around 40,000 participants, the Chicago Half and RnR Half don’t even get 20,000, but their packet pick-ups are all at giant expo halls in Navy Pier or McCormick Place, not tents in parking lots. HINT HINT to RAM Racing … if you’re going to allow 40K people to register, you better make sure you can accomodate that many people. Otherwise, cap it at an amount you can actually manage. I did this race in 2010, and while my experience wasn’t horrible, it certainly wasn’t good enough for 65 of my hard earned dollars to ever do this race again. And clearly it hasn’t gotten any better. I just hope for everyone’s sake, the race itself goes well.

  5. Thanks for putting this post out there. I agree with the others that Ram Racing really needs to get their act together. 2 hours for packet pickup is not excusable and saying things like “It will be worth the wait!” on your Facebook page aren’t very soothing. Here’s to hoping that things go smoothly tomorrow! I’m doing the 15k and I’m SUPER bummed about the course change from 2011 to 2012. I guess we’ll see how things go tomorrow. Let’s hope I don’t get hit by a car while running along Lake Shore Drive on the course……

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