Hot Chocolate Tampa
On Sunday December 18th, I ran the inaugural Hot Chocolate Tampa Race. Hot Chocolate now has another southern race in the series. I ran as the sweeper for Beast Pacers. This is my third city that have run for this series. I have run in ATL and Philly.
The expo was held at the Tampa Convention center from 12-5 pm on Friday and Saturday. It was compact with quick packet and swag pick up. Runners could also exchange their jackets for another size if needed. There were a few vendors present and plenty of the chocolate. The expo was a lot smaller than the Atlanta expo and the times were also shorter. In Atlanta, the expo usually opens at 10 am on both days and closes at 7 or 8 pm on both days.
It was hot!!!! The weather was in the 80s and the humidity was in full effect. We started at Channelside Bay Plaza and we ran an out and back flat course. In the first mile, we ran over a bridge that had a metal grated surface that caused a few runners to fall. Two runners seemed seriously injured and I am not sure if they completed the race. Thankfully, they were quickly assisted by medical personnel.
The course had water stations, that included Nuun, every two miles. It was a hot day and some runners were starting to have dehydration issues. As a pacer, I encouraged the runners to make sure they were drinking the Nuun and water at every stop. It would have been better if they had water at every mile.
While the route did not have huge crowd support, the scenery was amazing. We were next to the water so the view of the skyline and homes made up for lack of crowd support.
I finished at 2:18, which was within the acceptable time limit. We received the golden chocolate bar medal. We received the finisher mugs with the hot chocolate and the dipping goodies. It was so hot that I took one sip of my hot chocolate before I tossed it. Frozen hot chocolate would have been a nice treat after the race. As an added bonus I met fellow BibRave Pro Shannon, who was also running the race.
Tales of a Sweeper
Being a sweeper is an interesting race pacer. You either motivate people to run faster or bring the fear of being sweep (or both). I was the last person to start the race and I had to maintain a 15 min/mile pace. I ran 30 seconds and walked 45 seconds to stay on pace. I had a few runners who ran with me during the race. Naturally I passed runners early on and it was interesting to see their expressions and behavior when they looked up and saw me running next to them or run pass. I assured them they were not in danger of getting sweep unless they fell behind the cop car that was moving very slowly at the end. It was also wonderful to encourage runners to keep going, especially when we ran the last miles of the unshaded course.
Overall the race was fun experience. I enjoyed pacing it, loved the view, and the city. This is a race that I would run again in the future.