28 February 2016

Hot Chocolate 15K - Las Vegas

This morning was the Hot Chocolate 15K/5K - Las Vegas and I ran the 15K. I was really looking forward to this race since running the Hot Chocolate 15K - San Diego in 2014.  It was supposed to make a Las Vegas debut in 2015 but road construction on the course caused a late cancellation and refund of our registration fees.

Registration for the race was done through the RAM Racing website. I received at least four e-mails detailing things like packet pick-up, parking and live runner update info over the last month in addition to the original registration confirmation back in November.

Packet pick-up was held at the LINQ casino on the Friday and Saturday evening prior to the race. There was no expo but the pick-up was easy and I was able to try on a jacket to ensure that the correct size was in my bag.

waiting in the start queue
On race morning, my wife, youngest son and I arrived in downtown Vegas and parked just off the Strip at Bally's.  It was about a half mile to the start line which was located just east of the High Roller. We met up with some friends who were also running the race and hung out for a bit while waiting for the race to start with the 5K kicking off at 7:15 and the 15K at 8 AM.

At 7:45, I got in the starting queue and found the 9-minute pacer.  At 7:55, I switched my watch over to GPS mode and then we got announcement that the race would start in 15 minutes due to needing to get all the 5K runners past the 2-Mile mark so there were no conflicts between runners of the two distances.  At 8:10, we were about to start when another problem cropped up in that the police motorcycle which was supposed to be leading the race was unable to start.  At 8:17, another motorcycle was brought to the lead and the race began.

The first mile of the race was neat.  We ran around the High Roller and took the LINQ Promenade to Las Vegas Boulevard, better known as the Las Vegas Strip, which we ran on for a short amount of time before starting turning onto Flamingo. Halfway down Flamingo, we hit Mile 1 and I heard the pacers mention that we were at 9:04 which was pretty close to the target goal. A few turns later, we hit Mile 2 pretty much spot on the 18 minute mark. At Mile 3 , the course was on Desert Inn Road and went underneath the Las Vegas Boulevard. At the 5K mark (28:25), it began a gradual one mile climb from underneath that road to over the I-15.  At this point, a few of us who were running with the pacers were unable stay with the pace crew and dropped back 100-150 meters over the course of the mile.

The next 5k consisted of a 180 turn onto a side road and two loops on some side streets to get us back on Desert Inn.  I hit the 10K mark at 57:49 and was feeling pretty good despite the slight slowdown over the second 5K.  The final 5K went by pretty quickly and before I knew it, I was crossing the finish line.

Along the way, I passed a lot of aid stations as well as a lot of volunteers acting as course marshallers. Being part of the Hot Chocolate series, four of the aid stations were stocked with types of chocolate candy. Sports drinks and water were plentiful at all.

So how did I do?  My overall time was 1:26:48 and my splits were very consistent outside of the outlier of Mile 4. My time was good for 24 of 57 in the M 40-44 age group, 101 of 356 men and 181 of 1,258 overall.

This is the second race I have run in the Hot Chocolate series and I hope they return to Vegas next year.  It is a well managed race and the 15K is a fun distance.

post-race medal and chocolate treats with the High Roller in the background

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