Will Run for Chocolate

Thursday, January 23, 2014

On Sunday, January 11, thousands of runners spent a morning feeding their sweet tooth. No, I’m not talking about the latest edible Gatorade product; I’m talking about the Hot Chocolate Run.

Established by RAM Racing in 2008, the annual 5/15K run started out in Chicago and gained enough momentum to become a national event. The run is now held in 13 cities across the United States, including San Francisco.

Runners sweat through a casual 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) or a more intense 15 kilometers (9.3 miles), and at the end of the race enjoy a “Finisher’s Mug” filled with chocolate fondue, bananas and, of course, hot cocoa.

But it’s not all just fun and games: The race has a charitable aspect as well. RAM Racing has officially partnered with the Ronald McDonald House Charities (RHMC) to raise money for families with children with serious medical conditions.

The RMHC provides a  home away from home for families and children burdened by serious medical conditions, so that they can stay, at little or no cost, close to the hospital where they are being treated. In fact, the race allows participants to sign up online to “Go the extra mile” and further fund-raise for the charity through donations from family and friends.

Around 8 a.m., runners lined up in Golden Gate Park for either the 5K or 15K. I opted to do the 15K, to really push myself. The course extended from the serene forests of Golden Gate Park down onto the breezy streets of Ocean Beach, and then snaked back up into the park for the final three-mile leg of the race.

People from all backgrounds participated in the race: from hard-core, Spandex-wearing fitness freaks to stroller-pushing moms and dads. The organizers of the race had even laid on bounce houses and music for the younger folks participating.

But my favorite part of the event was the swag. Runners received a bag with an official Hot Chocolate Run athletic sweater and the Finisher’s Mug. After running more than nine miles, I definitely appreciated the sugar.

I ended up running at a pace of about 8 minutes a mile. Not bad, considering I did little to no training, but hopefully, next year I’ll push for 7 (with the emphasis on “hopefully”).

In all, the Hot Chocolate Run was a great way to spend my Sunday morning. Fresh air, an enjoyable course and free chocolate! And it was all for a good cause. To learn more about the run, visit hotchocolate15k.com.