Bittersweet-Virtual Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte Review

“Disclaimer: I received a free entry to run the Allstate Hot Chocolate 15K Charlotte as part of being a Bibrave Pro. Learn more about becoming a Bibrave Pro(ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews.”

As most of you know, over the past year, Virtual has become the new now. Virtual meetings through Zoom and Google Meet, virtual races to somewhat fulfill the void left with the lack of IRL races. The AllState Hot Chocolate 5K/15K Charlotte was not any different as most if not all the Hot Chocolate series has decided to go virtual. I have run the Charlotte installment of the series since it’s inception, so although it pains me not to be able to travel to Charlotte to run, I was happy to have the opportunity to knock it out locally and keep my streak going for the 4th year in a row.

To start, I am always impressed about how thorough the race organizers are about getting your race packets out to you in a timely fashion. I received an email about 2 weeks before the race, letting me know my packet had been mailed and included tracking information. I received my package about a week before raceday. I personally treated it like a IRL race and refused to open my package until I had earned it. I took the package with me the morning I planned to do the race and tore it open as soon as I was finished.

And can we talk about swag…SWAG. I have lone said that Hot Chocolate is one of the best races as far as swag goes. Let’s take a look at what I found when I popped open my package.

Good quality, full zip black jacket. Hot Chocolate emblem on the chest and removable hood.

Cool medal in the shape of a chocolate bar, that opens up to reveal a little piece of chocolate.

2 Packs of dark chocolate hot chocolate
2 pieces of chocolate

Honey Stinger

A sample of CBD ointment

The Run 

I couldn’t have picked a better day to run this virtual race, although some would say it was too cold. I think the temps were low 30s but felt like 26 with the wind chill. PERFECT! I picked a route that I was familiar with and only had a couple spots that required me to cross over a 2 lane street. I admit, I am totally not big on virtual races because I find it harder to push myself and I always liked to feed off the race spectators. Regardless, I set out and just let my legs do what they wanted. When I finally reached my 9.3 mile mark, I had finished with a 2 minute PR for 15K distance. Couldn’t wait to go to the website and upload my time. So that’s it, another Hot Chocolate in the books and looking forward to racing it IRL in 2022.

One HILLuva love/hate relationship-Hospital Hill Half Marathon Review

“Disclaimer: I received a free race entry to Hospital Hill Half Marathon as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro(ambassador), and check out to review, find and write race reviews”

For the second year in a row I was given the chance to run Hospital Hill Half marathon, and for the 2nd year I accepted. I experienced a well managed race last year, so I opted to do it again. Not to mention I have a good friend that lives in Kansas City, that provides me with a place to stay. The Hospital Hill race is in its 45th year so I knew there would be in for some nice goodies to celebrate. It had originally supposed to be a family trip, but do to some circumstances, I made the trip solo. I signed up for the Re-Run challenge with included a 5k Friday night, followed by half marathon on saturday morning.

I flew out of NC late thursday morning, and after a short layover in St. Louis, I arrived in Kansas City around 3pm CT.(had to keep reminding myself they are an hour behind my normal eastern standard time) I proceeded to rental car area to pick-up my rental vehicle. I got a great deal through Hotwire for a premium car. I walked outside to booth to pick out my vehicle(I like that National lets you choose your own car from an assortment). An older gentleman and a younger lady were working. he asked if I had a premium car, I responded “yes”. He pointed to 5 cars parked on the side and said I could choose between any of them more I could take one of the 2 cars parked under the breezeway. The 5 cars consisted of a Caty suv, infinity 4 door, infinity suv and the others weren’t has noticeable. The 2 under the breezeway were both infinity coupes and they were SWEET 2-doors. He suggested one of them, but I was thinking practical. Being in a new place, I didn’t exactly want to be driving around in something so flashy. I said I wanted something 4 door, and he pointed to an infinity 4dr. It wasn’t as flashy so I agreed. There was just one problem, he didn’t have the keys. He said he had to walk to back to grab keys and he would be a few minutes. I wasn’t in a rush, so I said ok. After about 10 minutes I began to wonder where he was. The young lady working said “I don’t know why its taking him so long”. She said he had been working there 25 years and knew everything about everything. A few minutes later, she says to me ” I know what he is doing”…I think he is trying to upgrade you”. I responded “really?”. A few minutes later he drives up in a Mercedes GLA hybrid. He jumps out and looks at me and says “will this work”. I had never driven a Mercedes so I was kind of excited. He didn’t have to do that for me, so I thanked him several times before driving off. I would tell you how I had to read the manual to find out how to adjust the seats but my learning of that car would take up several paragraphs. lol

I left rental place and drove straight to the expo for the race. After I successfully parked using the backup camera, I made myself inside to the packet pickup. They had a designated area for runners to the Re-Run challenge to get both their bibs. I walked up and provided the lady my bib number. She started shifting through bibs and couldn’t find mine. She advised me that they had several stacks of bibs that had not been sorted yet, so she began to go through stack by stack, still she couldn’t find my bib. She asked the guy working with her for help, and he started going through the stacks. STILL NOTHING. By this time a line is starting to form and another lady had came up for her bib, and they couldn’t find hers. After about 10 minutes of them searching, they sent me down to another table to get a new bib assignment. Im honestly beginning to get upset. I go to the table and explain to them the situation. Lady says that she couldn’t reassign me a another number if I already had one in the system. She said she would walk down and look through the bibs herself. After about 5 minutes of looking, she finds my bib in the same stack the previous 2 individual had been looking. I thanked her and headed over to VIP to pick up my band. As I was walking a looked at my bibs…the first one was right but the 2nd bib had a totally different name. Frustrated, I walked back to the same lady that had just helped me and showed her. Her response was “I don’t know what is going on with them”. She walks over and tells a coordinator what’s going on, then she goes to the 5k area to see if my correct bib was there….IT WAS. After finally getting my bibs and VIP bracelet, I went for the swag. Last year swag consisted of pajama bottoms and a beach towel, this year they had duffle bags and performance shirts celebrating the race’s 45th anniversary. I collected my goods and decided to walk around the expo to see what free stuff I could grab. My favorite booth was the taste testing of the beef and wine tasting, both were great. I stayed about an hour before heading to my friend’s house to prepare for the next day’s 5k.

About 9pm thursday night, I receive an email from race organizers saying they were going to move Friday night’s 5k to saturday morning because of the weather. The forecast was causing for 90 degree weather at 7pm Friday night, with high humidity. Rather that subject runners to potential dangerous conditions, the decided to move the race. I appreciate them letting us know well in advance, although I was disappointed. By moving the race, they pretty much put an end to any runner that was trying to do the Re-Run challenge because now the 5k and half marathon were starting at the same time, so no way you to do both. They said that we could still receive all three medals after the half and we would get a voucher to move our registration for the 5k to 2019. I don’t like getting medals I didn’t earn so I got up Friday morning and did my own 5k. I went out at 6:30 and it was already extremely hot and humid. I think they made a good call moving the 5k to the next morning.

The next morning I was up at 4:30 to get prepped for the half marathon. I woke up to thunder, lightening and some rain. My first thoughts were “please don’t let them cancel this race”. I left the house at 5:30 and headed towards the start. By the time I got there, the rain had stopped. VIP had designated parking area, but I just could never find it. I ended up parking in regular parking which was just as close if not closer to the starting line. I headed to VIP tent, where they had coffee, porter potties and last minute essentials that you may have forgotten.(band-aids, sunscreen, etc) The race was set to start at 7, but radar showed a thunderstorm was heading our way, so they delayed the race until 7:30 and told runners to seek cover. We watched the rain and thunder hit us for about 15 minutes then it cleared up. The race started promptly and 7:30 and we were off. Once we started running the route came back to me, and I remembered…this course was HILLY as HELL. Up, down, up, down we went for the full 13 miles. I don’t recall one section of the race that was level. It began to get hot and you could tell the hills were really challenging the runners. I saw a lot of people walking the hills because they just couldn’t recovery fast enough between hills. In spite of the hills, their was beautiful views to see as we ran through KC, past the hospital and through several neighborhoods before ultimately finishing downtown. The final mile of the race was downhill, and you could try to take advantage IF you had anything left in the tank after the hills. I had a little bit and was able to finish in a respectable time. I checked my watch and saw that we had run course with 975ft if elevation. My course graph looked like a heart beat signal. lol

I gathered my snacks and 3 medals, and headed back to the VIP tent. We were treated to free massages and mamosas, in addition to receiving a free gift. We all got power banks. I thanked the organizers again before heading back to my friend’s house to shower and pack in preparation for my flight back home that evening. I returned my Mercedes and was at the airport 2 hours before my plane took off. My plane took off at 5:25pm, and I left behind Kansas City and another great race weekend. Can’t wait to claim my results on Athlinks. Sigh up and get all your race stats in one place.

This race is definitely challenging, but if you enough a good challenge and LOTS of hills, I would recommend it without question. Thank You Hospital Hill 2018.

BOCO BOCO BOCO Gear-Headwear Review

“Disclaimer: I received a BOCO Headgear hat to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out to review find and write race reviews!”

Most runners are serious about their headgear, and I am not any different. When I was given the chance to test out one of BOCO’s newest hats, naturally I jumped at the chance.

BOCO was “born in the Boulder”, Boulder Colorado. They offer stylish, technical headwear and accessories for your brand, team or event. Fully customized with wicking fabrications and technical innovation, our gear is designed for and tested by top athletes. We sweat the details! That means you can customize your own BOCO hat for your favorite team or group.

Reputation can take a company a long way, and you can get a good idea of what type of reputation a company has by their clients. BOCO clients include some heavy hitters and well-known companies like: BIBRAVE, Ragnar, Timex, IronMan, GU, and Balega to name a few. All these companies surely can’t be wrong.

Hat Specs
Performance Woven material front
Wicking internal sweatband
Internal dry tech backing behind the front panels for additional wicking
Structured extended front panel
Mesh side and back panels
Adjustable plastic snap back closure
Curved or Flat bill available

I feel BOCO has unlocked the secret to hat comfort and they aren’t sharing with anyone else. These hats are incredibly comfortable and fit the your head perfectly. I guess you can say I’m a fan, I own 4 different BOCO hats; 2 Bibrave, and 2 custom hats for my home state NC. I wear them mostly casually, but I have raced in one of my Bibrave hats.

This is a no brainer for me, you have to try one. If you have a Fleet Feet in your area, I’m willing to bet they have at least 1 style (if not more) of BOCO hats. So make your head happy, and experience the comfort of BOCO hats for yourself.

Check out what some of my fellow Pros had to say about BOCO:


Race Discounts

Race Discount Codes


10/28/2017 – Tulsa Run – Tulsa, OK

Use code “bibravetr” for $5 on your race entry.

10/29/2017 – Ocean State Rhode Race – Narragansett, RI

Use code “BibRave” to save 10% on race entry.

10/29/2017 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Chicago – Chicago, IL
Use code “BRHCCHI17” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!  


11/4/2017 – Bike the Coast – San Diego, CA

Use code “BRBTC2017” for 30% off, includes ride & jersey combos!

11/04/2017 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Merida – Merida, Mexico

Use code “BIBRAVE15” to save $15 or 270 Pesos off Half, valid until 10/28.

11/04- 05/2017 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Savannah – Savannah, GA

Use code “BIBRAVE15” to save $15 off Half and Full, valid until 10/28.

11/5/2017 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Columbus – Columbus, OH
Use code “BRHCCOL17” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!  

11/5/2017 – South Shore Half – Norwell, MA

Use code “BRSSH10” to save 10% on your race entry.   

11/11- 12/2017 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV

Use code “BIBRAVE15” to save $15 off Half and Full, valid until 11/05.

11/12/2017 – Honor Run Half Marathon – Florence, KY

Use code “BIBRAVE10” to save $10 on your race entry.

11/12/2017 – Madison Marathon – Madison, WI

Use code “RAVE10” to save $10 on Madison Marathon or Half Marathon.

Code will expire Nov 8 at 11:59PM (close of online registration)

11/12/2017 –  Monterey Bay Half Marathon – Big Sur, CA

Use code “BRP17” to save $10 off race entry and score a bonus 13.1 magnet! Valid until 10/31.

11/18-19/2017 – Williams Route 66 Marathon – Tulsa, OK

Use code “2017R66BR” to save $10 on your race entry.

11/23/2017 – North Shore Turkey Trot – Highland Park, IL

Use code “BibRaveTT17”for a bonus RAM Racing drink bottle!

11/23/2017 – Art Van Turkey Trot – Chicago, IL

Use code “17BIBRAVE10”to save 10% off all distances!

11/23/2017 – Century Link Turkey Day 5K Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN

Use code “TURKEYDAY2017”to save 10% off all distances!


12/2/2017 – Run Laughlin –  Laughlin, NV

Use code “BIBRAVE20”to save 20% on your race entry.

12/02- 03/2017 – Rock ‘n’ Roll San Antonio – San Antonio, TX

Use code “BIBRAVE15” to save $15 off Half and Full, valid until 11/26.

12/3/2017 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Scottsdale – Scottsdale, AZ
Use code “BRHCSCOTTS17” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!  

12/10/2017 – BCS Marathon – College Station, TX

Code “BIBRAVER17″ saves 10% on your race entry.

12/10/2017 – Honolulu Marathon – Honolulu, HI

Use code “BIBRAVEHNL”to save 20% on your race entry!

12/10/2017 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K St. Louis – St. Louis, MO
Use code “BRHCSTL17” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

12/10/2017 – Jingle All the Way 5K & 15K – Washington, D.C.

Code “BibRaveJingle” saves $5 off the 5K or 15K.

12/17/2017 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Tampa – Tampa, FL
Use code “BRHCTAMPA17” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!



1/7/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K San Francisco – San Francisco, CA
Use code “BRHCSF18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

1/13-14/2018 – Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona – Phoenix, AZ

Use code “BIBRAVE15” to save $15 off Half and Full, valid until 1/7/18.

1/20/2018 – F^3 Lake Half Marathon – Chicago, IL
Use code “bibrave13” to save $6 off the half and “bibrave5” to save $5 off 5K!

1/21/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Atlanta – Atlanta, GA
Use code “BRHCATL18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

1/28/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Houston – Houston, TX
Use code “BibRaveHCHouston18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

1/28/2018 – Miami Marathon – Miami Beach, FL
Use code “BIBRAVEMM18” to save $5 on race entry!


2/3/2018 – Sedona Marathon – Sedona, AZ

Use code “18BibRave” saves 20% on race entry!

2/3/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Dallas – Dallas, TX
Use code “BRHCDAL18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

2/4/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Atlanta – Atlanta, GA
Use code “BRHCATL18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

2/10/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Charlotte – Charlotte, NC
Use code “BibRaveHCChar18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

2/17/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Nashville – Nashville, TN
Use code “BRHCNASH18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

2/18/2018 – A1A Fort Lauderdale Marathon and Half Marathon – Fort Lauderdale, FL
Use code “BIBRAVE” to save 15% on the Marathon, Half Marathon and 5K.  

2/25/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Las Vegas – Las Vegas, NV
Use code “BRHCVEGAS18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!


3/4/2018 – 13.1 Miami Beach – Miami Beach, FL
Use code “BIBRAVEMB18” to save $5 on the half marathon!

3/4/2018 – Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans – New Orleans, LA

Use code “BIBRAVE15” to save $15 off Half and Full, valid until 1/29.

3/4/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Seattle – Seattle, WA
Use code “BRHCSEA18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

3/18/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K San Diego – San Diego, CA
Use code “BRHCSD18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

3/18/2018 – Tobacco Road Marathon and Half Marathon – Cary, NC
Use code “bibrave1” to save $20 on race registration!

3/24/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Indianapolis – Indianapolis, IN
Use code “BibRaveHCIndy18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!


4/7/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Philadelphia – Philadelphia, PA
Use code “BRHCPHILLY18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

4/14/2018 – Hot Chocolate 15K/5K Minneapolis – Minneapolis, MN
Use code “BRHCMINN18” to score a BONUS Hot Chocolate branded cap!

4/26-28/2018 – Illinois Marathon – Champaign-Urbana, IL
Use code “2018bibravebonus” to save $5 on race entry!