Overall: As a whole, I really enjoyed this race. I don't normally love novelty-type races because they're large citizen races and, as a result, are often a pain to navigate and participate in. However, this wasn't the case with the Hot Chocolate Run. Everything was well managed such that it didn't feel like there were as many people participating as there actually were. I would highly recommend this race.
T-Shirts/Swag: All participants got a nice zip-up hoodie for participating. As I mention below, since I was unable to make it to packet pickup I am still waiting to receive my hoodie. However, they appeared to be really high quality from what I saw. The 5K finishers did not get medals but the 15K medals looked great. Otherwise, the race after-party was full of great treats and these awesome mugs that included hot chocolate, hot fudge, and various dipping treats like bananas and marshmallows! The free race photos were also a nice perk.
Aid Stations: I only saw one aid station on the 5K route but they were stocked with sports drinks and water, plus chocolate! They had a ton of great volunteers with made the aid stations move smoothly, in my opinion. One additional aid station might have been nice, especially for the 15K runners who run the majority of the 5K course before turning off for the last 10K.
Course Scenery: The course scenery was about what you would expect in downtown St. Louis. The course started in a location that had a nice view of the arch and the rest took place on city streets. It definitely wasn't the most scenic part of St. Louis but it was still enjoyable!
Expo Quality: Unfortunately I wasn't able to make it to the expo since packet pickup is only held before race day and we live a few hours away. This is the one thing I dislike about RAM Racing: no packet pickup on race day! I usually don't mind it for larger races because it keeps the lines on race mornings minimal, but we had a crazy week which made it impossible to get out to St. Louis prior to race morning which meant I couldn't pick up my packet. I was able to get my bib at the information booth which was really nice and I was told I would be mailed my race jacket, which I have yet to receive.
Elevation Difficulty: Not bad. There were a few rolling hills but it is the midwest after all.
Parking/Access: Accessibility and parking weren't bad once we figured out how it all worked. There was no information about parking on race day on the website, so it was basically up to you to drive around and figure it out. The first lot we found was full but thankfully we were directed to another one right down the road. You had to pay for hourly parking but it wasn't too bad.
Race Management: Well done! Managing a race this large can't be easy. There were dozens of corrals that all started 2 minutes apart. Once the race actually "started" it still took 6 minutes for me to start, and I was corral D! As I was finishing, I saw the last corral starting. This definitely helped to spread things out on the course but I'm not sure how I felt about all the waiting. Otherwise, the race was well equipped and all runner needs were met! RAM usually does a great job with their events so I wouldn't expect anything different at this one!
See my review on Bibrave.com HERE.