7210 Greenlake Dr N, Seattle, WA 16095 Cleveland St., Redmond, WA
The Many Faces Of The Hot Chocolate Race
by Nanci Larsen
The Allstate Hot Chocolate race has been coined as “America’s Sweetest Race”.
In 2008, the inaugural race took place through the streets of Chicago. The Hot Chocolate series consists of a 15K (9.3 miles) and a 5K (3.1 miles). Since its inception, over 200,000 participants have run for chocolate! The chocolate really begins to flow at the post race party where runners enjoy music, a cup of hot chocolate and a finisher’s mug filled with chocolate fondue and dippable treats.
When Larry and I heard about this race coming to Seattle, we were excited to register. It did not take much arm twisting; we were in when we heard the word ‘c h o c o l a t e’.
In March of 2013 Seattle joined the list of cities chosen to host this event. The race however did have an early morning start, so we trekked into Seattle during the predawn hours and found a parking place by the Seattle Center. From there we went in search of our corral and the start line. We found many festive runners already waiting for the starting gun.
Music was blasting from loudspeakers of which residents in the area might not have enjoyed, but it pumped us up to get going.
With the “go”, our corral worked its way down the streets of lower Queen Anne through Belltown, down to Western Avenue and the back side of Pike Place Market for the 5K course turnaround.
Those brave souls that signed up for the 15K continued down towards Pioneer Square where the course then moved back toward the Battery Street Tunnel (which is now full of the concrete from the Alaskan Way Viaduct) and up highway 99 over the Aurora Bridge, turning back after reaching the Wallingford district.
The weather that morning was clear and cool with sun breaking out of the clouds for finishers to enjoy their chocolate delights. Larry really, really enjoyed his chocolate. Ready to sign up for the next year’s race??
In 2019, I convinced my running partner in crime (Marsha Murray) to run the Hot Chocolate race with me. There was a new course that still began at the Seattle Center and down lower Queen Anne to Dexter Avenue with a slight up hill to Aurora Avenue (highway 99). The 5K turnaround was just before the Aurora Bridge. The 15K runners route took them across the bridge toward Green Lake before the turnaround to the Seattle Center.
As we were approaching the 5K turnaround and visiting, I caught my foot on one of the divider buttons and took a face plant onto the street.
Luckily, we were next to one of the course monitors that was awaiting the van to transport another injured runner. He asked if we wanted to hitch a ride in the van. I considered dusting off my pride and continuing on, but felt the safest thing was to return to the First Aid Tent and be checked out.
My name according to some baby name lists means Grace; however, I guess that does not translate further to mean Graceful! After getting the okay to leave, we headed for the chocolate party because wasn’t that the reason, we entered the race??
You know, you cannot keep a Silver Strider down for long.
The Hot Chocolate race series entry fee is in the upper range but setting that aside, the goody bag consists of quality merchandise, runners are provided a good workout with friends and new race acquaintances, entertainment, and C H O C O L A T E!! And better yet, perhaps a smile put on the face of a child or family member benefiting from charitable donations.
We now arrive at the 2021 race with anticipation of like experiences from previous running events only to find ourselves in a world surrounded by the Covid19 virus and all the drawbacks associated with group events: no live venues. Bummer!
Now that we are living in the “virtual race world”, I hope you found a way to enjoy your run and finish it off with a huge serving of CHOCOLATE! One good thing about virtual races is to keep a positive attitude that they cannot take running away from us; it is a temporary change in routes for now. Hopefully, next year we will return to the race venues we love and enjoy.
Every year the Hot Chocolate race series establishes an official race charity. Just to name a few: The first race in Chicago went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation which creates life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses.
In 2017 they partnered with Ronald McDonald House Charities which helps provide a home-away-from-home for children and the families of children being treated at Seattle Children’s Hospital at little to no cost to the families.
This year’s charity is St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Their mission is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with founder Danny Thomas’ vision, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion, or a family’s ability to pay.