Saturday, January 23, 2010

Race #71 – Hot Chocolate 10k – Asheville, NC – 01/23/10


Quickly becoming one of North Carolina’s most popular road races, the Hot Chocolate 10k in Asheville is a tasty mid-winter treat for runners at a time when good races are few and far between. The race is held as a fundraiser for the Isaac Dickson Elementary School, which is one of only two “Foxfire” elementary schools in the nation that specializes in creative teaching and learning methods. This year, only the third year of the race, registration had to be limited to 800 runners to keep things from getting out of hand. No doubt hundreds more would have been there if they hadn’t waited too long to register. I’m not sure if they’ll increase the size of the race in the coming years, but either way, if you’re able to make it next year be sure to register early and head to Asheville for this outstanding running celebration!
About the hot chocolate… Linda and I ran this race last year and the hot chocolate distribution hit a few snags — the lines were long and there probably wasn’t enough to go around. Not so this year — there was more than enough hot chocolate in numerous places both before and after the race and lines were virtually nonexistent. I grabbed a cup on the way out after the awards and there was still plenty then as well. It seems that any small problems with last year’s race were taken care of and elimated this year.
Another problem with last year’s race that was fixed this year was that they had run out of T-shirts (I didn’t get one last year because I registered on the morning of the race and there were more people than they expected). This year race-day registration was eliminated and all registered runners got a shirt, which by the way was a nice one: long-sleeved black T-shirt with the cool Hot Chocolate 10k logo. It would have been better had it been tech material, but cotton will work too.
Possibly the popularity of this race is due to the fantastic website they have. It’s probably the best and most informative site for any race I’ve seen other than the major marathons. Race director Tim Grotenhuis seems to work year-round on this project and sends out informative newsletters months in advance so people can make plans to be there.
The race route itself is outstanding for a 10k race in Asheville. It’s billed as “The Flattest 10k in Asheville” and it really is, at least for five miles or so. The race starts on a huge downhill in front of the school. After the first mile that is mostly downhill, the course levels off as you run along the French Broad River. You then cross over into a park and run a winding trail through the park, then go back the same way you came, although when you get to the last half mile you take a different route to the side of the school, where the race finishes. Thankfully, the uphill at the end is not as long as the downhill at the beginning, but it’s still an excruciating last half mile, possibly the hardest finish I’ve seen in a race, but since the end is near it’s really not so bad.
If there’s any little nitpicky thing I can say bad about this race, it’s that I was a little disappointed that the awards were edible: Sugar Mommas Cookies. Not that there’s anything wrong with the cookies — they’re great! But I hate to eat my awards. It would be much better if they’d give out the cookies in addition to a nice trophy… that would make this the greatest race in the history of the world, or at least an even better race than it already is.
As for my own performance, I sliced 6 minutes and 2 seconds off my time from last year when I finished 7th in the 55-59 age group. This year I was 1st in the age group (yay!) with a time of 43:36.
My Race Stats:
  • Time:  43:36
  • Pace:  7:02 per mile
  • Age Group:  1 of 22
  • Overall:  46 of 674
The slideshow below contains 93 photos that I took. You can download (for free) any that you want by clicking on the slideshow and getting them on Picasa (you don’t need to register). There was also a professional photographer at the race and I’ll post a link to those photos when I find it.
And I also made a video…
Race Rating
10 – 1-10  Website (Information, results, registration, photo links, etc.)
4 – 1-10  Awards (Quality of medals, trophies, etc.) (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10  Awards Presentation (PA system, winning times, etc.) (1 to 10)
7 – 1-10  Food for Race Participants (1 to 10)
8 – 1-10  T-Shirts (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
6 – 4/6   Part of Race Series (Grand Prix, etc.) (6=Yes and 4=No)
5 – 0/5   Professional Photography (5=Yes and 0=No)
6 – 4/6   Chip Timing (6=Yes and 4=No)
7 – 3/7   Certified Course (by USA Track & Field) (7=Yes and 3=No)
8 – 1-10  Course (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
3 – 1-10  Parking (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
8 – 1-10  Entertainment (1 to 10 with 5 being average)
10 – 0-10  Age Groups (10 if 5-year groups; 0 if 10-year groups)
5 – 0/5   Indoor Shelter from Elements (0 if none; 5 if provided)
5 – 1-10  Bathroom Facilities
0-10  Other
TOTAL – 100