Recap of the Chocoholic Frolic 5k & 10k – 2018
Saturday, March 31, 9 AM at Big Grove Brewery in Iowa City. The temps were near 40 with wind that would pick up and change direction.
Before I get into run details…how bout some background… As always I will have a review at bibrave.com.
This event is new to Iowa City. With some research it appears that a race management company is responsible for 5 of these chocolate themed runs around the USA. It’s my opinion that due to the popular Hot Chocolate races, this series exists. In my area we do not have a lot of race management companies come from outside, most races are organized locally.
I first started to see advertisements for this event on Facebook. Something would appear in my news feed daily. Then, that same ad had a discount code to save $15. The registration period for that code expired, and a new one was advertised. I did try to contact the event via FB messenger on Feb 14th.
Ok, I couldn’t resist a 10k for $30, so I eventually registered. I was very hesitant. There was very little information on the website. However, because the run was soooo close to my house, I wanted them to prove me wrong.
There was no published course information, all the website said was the run was at Big Grove Brewery. As someone who knows that area well, I know it’s under construction, I was curious where we would be running. I also know running one direction out and back is roughly 5.5 miles.
There was also no information about the expo, as it said there would be one. To this day it still says TBD. It did say you could register on race day, so that usually means you can get your stuff on race day. However, with lack of information…who actually knew?
Next, proceeds from the event were going to a charity. The only way to learn about this was through the registration process. All it had was an option to donate more to “local charity.” What is this local charity? I still don’t know.
What did I know? I would be running a 10k that started at 9:45 am. I would receive a chocolate bar medal, a chocolate bar, and get a 1/4 zip pullover. I also read there would be a chocolate beer made special for the event. Apparently this was enough for me to justify spending the money (or to do some market research?) Is this enough for the everyday runner?
The week of the run/race, I finally got an email. Up until this I wasn’t sure if I paid $30 for a chocolate bar, as I still hadn’t received answer to a my FB message or one through the “contact us” form I submitted.
The email had the important information the website was lacking. First, it did call the event the Chocoholic Frolic Run – but went on to state “race” details. No where did I see “fun run” and I do think there is a difference between race and run and what to expect. It had both course routes and information about times to pick up your bib. This email also said the 10k would start at 10 AM. There was also another discount code to share with friends. Did anyone ever pay full price? This information needs to be on the website, it’s very helpful in deciding on registration.
Whew… you still with me?
So on the Wednesday before the event, I attended my running club’s shop local event. Prizes were race/run entries… and as the cookie crumbled, there were leftover entries to this and I was gifted one and gave my husband an entry. This was on the heels of a discount going out to the running club. Lots of codes and complimentary entries.
I talked to my friend who I convinced to register as she LOVES chocolate, and she still claims she never saw this event advertised anywhere. She does not have Facebook, where I saw an ad daily. So, maybe the reason for all the codes?
After all this and the codes, I found myself registered for the 5k as well as the 10k. I’ll keep things upfront and honest, I used one of the complimentary entries. There is no expectation I do anything in return. I always write a recap… so here I am.
There was a packet pick up the night before at the brewery. Josh and I decided to go and get our things. The brewery was packed, but there were signs leading us to the packet pickup area. We just had to tell them our names and they grabbed us a bib and assigned our information. Since I had registered for both races they asked if I wanted 2 pullovers, or a different size. While I thought about it, the lady asked me if I wanted some of the merchandise on the table. This was all really nice and totally not necessary. I did decide on another pullover color, but discovered it was too big when I got home, so Josh has another pullover. They thanked us many times for registering for the race.
I had organized all the things I was going to wear for the run. The weather is crazy here, it’s never going to be spring, so it did take some time to decide what to wear.
Gear: Sparkle Athletic ice cream skirt, Flipbelt crops, Zensah socks, Brooks Ghost 9, Moving Comfort bra, Mission t-shirt, Chicago Marathon hat, Aftershokz Trekz Air, XX2i France 2 sunglasses, Nathan race belt, Garmin Forerunner 935.
In true race day fashion, I was anxious about getting there in time. Why? I don’t know, I am used to traveling far and being unfamiliar with things… I really could have rolled up minutes before the start.
The brewery opens for regular business at 11 AM, but they had the doors open for people to stay warm or use the indoor bathrooms. The patio fireplaces were on. There is lots of parking, including at the neighboring business.
Inside, on the top of the bar were the plates of goodies finishers received. In the back game room computers were set up for race day registration. A selfie station tent was set up on the patio. 90s hip hop music played on the speakers. An announcement came over the system and the kids race was to begin, followed by the 5k.
Another strange thing is the 5k is before the 10k. With time and whatnot, you think they could run them simultaneously or start the 10k first.
As I mentioned before, I am familiar with this area. The City of Iowa City has been re-working an old waste water plant to make the area to the west of the brewery a small park with paths that connect to a trail system. This project is close to complete, but the connection to the brewery is not finished, so a wood chip trail was added to get to the starting line. It wasn’t difficult, it just wasn’t ideal.
At about 9 AM, runners were gathered at the start. There was a teardrop flag blowing in the wind and a rubber timing mat across the sidewalk. There was a bike out front to show the way. After some announcements, the race was on.
Josh gave me a high five and I followed the pack. The course is on the Iowa River Corridor Trail. It heads south along the Iowa River, to the ball fields, and eventually around the Trueblood Rec Area. It’s relatively flat, a small little hill here or there, and it’s all paved.
I passed the first mile marker and my watch agreed with the distance. After this, I took a turn as suggested by signs, to run through the ball fields and make a loop. I passed the water stop and did not take anything as it was cool. I am not sure if there was anything but water. The email stated “water and chocolate will be located along the route and at the finish line.”
I was on my way back, and keeping note of the mileage on my Garmin, for a basic out an back, things were not adding up, but what could I do but keep moving.
Also a side note, as a Bibrave Pro I was trying out my FlipBelt cropped leggings for the first time, and I had the phone in the back zippered pocket and I had to keep pulling my pants up. This kept me occupied as I ran back.
When I got close to the starting line, which was also the finish line, I looked at my watch and it was around 2.6? I knew the 2 guys (Dan & Horacio) handing out finisher medals, so I motioned to my watch, and raised my arms. They motioned me to the finish line, so I crossed the timing mat and they handed me my luggage tag medal. My Garmin read 2.75 miles. I was not happy. Someone with the race management company caught wind and told me they didn’t want to deal with the construction, so it was short. Ok, then don’t have the race/run or advertise it as a 5k. I am sorry to my friends Dan & Horacio who got to hear and see all my displeasure with the situation. Horacio wanted me to make sure I told everyone the guys handing out medals were the best!
I met up with Josh who had my 10k bib, as I needed to switch because the timing strips were registered for each race. I went inside to get my 5k? finisher plate and found the place very busy with participants. The finisher plate was PACKED with treats, like an insane amount of things for a 5k?. It was more than just the chocolate bar.
I had to get ready to go back out and run, so I put my plate in the car. I met a few of my running friends and we all discussed the short course and someone said the 10k course was spot on. Ha… the email might have said that too, but it also said the 5k was 3.4 miles.
I walked back over to the start area, while Josh did some warm up strides. There were not as many participants in the 10k. There were some more announcements, and the bike lead was back. This course started with a loop around the park path (um this could have been added to the 5k) and then we took the same Iowa River Corridor Trail south along the River, but this time a cut by the water stop table to the sidewalk along S. Gilbert St. There were signs in the ground with arrows pointing the way. There were no human volunteers on the course, except 2 at the water table.
I continued on, and had to cross a road. While it had a 4 way stop, there were no cones, no traffic control, nothing here. I took the loop around Trueblood, and then BAM….the wind was at my face or had switched direction or something, it was like running through mud. Anymore I can’t win with the weather, so you just wear all the things and expect the worst.
After my loop around the lake, there was a fork in the road….I was behind some women who were just as confused as I was at this fork. Those ahead of my just cut across the 2 cones and sign flopping in the wind. I had glanced at the course and felt like I needed to take a left and follow the Iowa River Trail. I went that way and I knew I was going the correct direction as there was a sign with an arrow on this route. The ladies in front of me basically cut the course, but really are they at fault if the intersection, with no human, was not clearly marked?
I was mad. I was really thinking if they were in my age group and they placed as the winner that would not be fair, then I was thinking this would be a great story for marathon investigation, lol.
After thinking I was on the correct path back to the finish, I passed one of the women who cut the course, but she was running the wrong way. She mentioned something like, the course is short. I was like, you cut the course, but neither of us stopped. I was no longer mad.
Are you still reading? Thanks!
It seemed as the wind was getting worse, so I was battling that the entire way back. I even dodged a falling limb. I also moved my phone to the front pocket of my FlipBelt Crops, and had no issues.
I got closer to to the finish and had to do another loop around the park area, before I crossed the timing mat. I was sad that Dan & Horacio were no longer handing out medals. I hit stop on my Garmin and it said 5.87. Wow! I met Josh and all I could think was get me some beer!
Inside the brewery, I grabbed another finisher plate and made my way to the beer. I said I wanted one of each brew, and showed them both of my bibs. I even got Josh’s beer as he didn’t care for it. There were not many participants hanging out at this time.
We joined our friends who ran the 5k? and discussed the event. I ate the items on my plate that were not individually wrapped, there was soo much! We chatted about getting what we paid for and discussed if this was a race or a run. When we solved all the problems we parted ways, and called it a day.
My overall thoughts….ha, you had to read a ton to get to this point. I feel I got $30 worth of stuff – the pullover, all the chocolate, the medal and the special beer. I do not feel I got any of that in the actual running part of the race.
Would I run it again? Hmmm maybe still on the fence… I am not sure I would pay to do it, knowing what I know. a lot of things have to improve.
This also has me wondering, what do people want in a race? Do they want the swag and material things? Or do they want a well supported course, an accurate course, volunteers, posted information? Am I looking to much into this, is this just a race for fun? Is this one of those events to get the non runner out and moving?
I am also a member of my local running community, and a member of our local running club. As a volunteer club that hosts 7 races we strive to do our best for the running community, and we hope to set a standard of what people should expect when registering for an event.
Thanks for reading.