Disclaimer: I received a free entry into the Hot Chocolate run San Francisco as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review find and write race reviews!
I’ve run a lot of races and this one had a lot of firsts for me. Let me preface by saying that San Francisco generally has perfect race weather. Cool temperatures, a mild climate and a perfect place for running. This was not a typical San Francisco race.
Northern California has pretty much been in a drought for years and I can’t really be disappointed by rain. However, we happened to received the worst rain and wind storm we have had in years the very weekend of the Hot Chocolate race. Driving down on Saturday before the race there was an eerie calm and I thought for a moment that the weather network may have been wrong.
After packet pick-up, the group of friends that I was staying with went to dinner at the Cliff House restaurant and when we exited the wind and waves were starting to pick up. That night the storm continued to grow and even with the ear plugs my roomie generously shared with me, I could still hear the wind and rain pounding outside our hotel. It didn’t get any better by morning. It was one of the worst storms I have seen.
But runners are built of resilient stock.
The Race Must Go On
Runners in general are built tough. What we do isn’t something the majority of people do. Runners seem to like pain and suffering and the best runners thrive off of it. So even in bad weather, when ordinary people wouldn’t show up, runners do. They make it happen. In fact, just about 10,000 of us showed up for the big race, undeterred by wind, rain and fallen port-o-potties.
The 5k race took off as scheduled. I was running the 15k. Due to such high winds and waves along part of the 15k course, for our safety the race directors shortened the 15k to a 5.9 mile race. I don’t think anyone was too concerned about this. There were cheers at the start when the shortened course was announced.
Running Through the Storm
I have only ran through one other similar storm. The worst part of running in a storm isn’t the run itself, it’s the waiting before and after the race that chills you to the bone. For this race, I was dropped off at the start with my friend running the 5k. She started 45 minutes before my race began, so I was standing in the cold for an hour and a half before I actually took off (since we arrived about 45 minutes before her start).
There was hardly any shelter at the start. After huddling in a tent set up as a store with a mass of other people, my friend and I decided that we would be better off braving the wind and rain. We weren’t huge fans of being sandwiched in the middle of 100’s of other people with no room to move. When it came time for my friend’s race to start I walked her over and cheered her on. Then I went to wait under some sheltering trees where I met a few girls to chat with about the race. 45 minutes later I was off and running!
I actually enjoy running in the rain. It was a blast and everyone was so upbeat. Soaking wet or not, racing is just fun! Racing through Golden Gate Park is also beautiful and with so much rain the waterfall was gushing. Plus, I felt so accomplished and fierce after finishing. Not everyone would be able to finish a race like this and my friend and I both prevailed.
After being soaked and running with soggy shoes and raindrops dripping down my face, that hot chocolate at the finish tasted amazing! And my medal will always be dear to my heart because of the memories of persevering it holds.
I finished in 52:35. A pretty decent time considering the conditions.
Cheers to the Race Staff
The race management team was great. They were faced with amazing environmental challenges and overcame them while still putting on a fun, safe event. I felt respected and taken care of and my hat is off to the Hot Chocolate Race SF staff! I hope to do another one of their races in the future.
Of course I can’t forget to mention the swag! I love the hoodie that everyone receives at the race and the hot chocolate, fondue, banana, and treats at the finish were well worth the cost of registration. I can’t wait to do another Hot Chocolate race in the future, maybe in a new city!