When to skip a race

I signed up for one too many races this fall. The first three I ran were great – two 10Ks and one half- marathon. Enough racing to keep me motivated, but not enough to burn me out.

Race number four did me in, though.

I signed up for the Hot Chocolate 15K because, well, who doesn’t like chocolate? I was a little dubious because it was at the National Harbor, which for those not from DC is weirdly located across the Potomac from Old Town Alexandria, basically. It’s kind of a pain to get to, but the race organizers seemed to have planned pretty well, with shuttles running from pretty close to my house.

I drove out Friday night to pick up my packet. At 8 p.m., it shouldn’t have taken more than 25 minutes to get there. It took 50 minutes because there were so many runners going to get their packets. That was the first sign of poor planning – not having packet pickup somewhere more easily accessible. The whole thing had ‘irritating, pain-in-the-ass, nightmare race’ written all over it!

When I got home, I considered whether I wanted to do the race. My reasons for not wanting to go:

  1. It would be cold, and with the shuttles, I would probably be waiting for the race to start for at least an hour. I was not excited enough about this race to want to do that.
  2. My legs would be sore from lifting weights Friday morning (this is how not-seriously I was taking this race).
  3. I wasn’t running the race with anyone, so who would care but me?
  4. It was a weird distance, one that I had never run before, so I didn’t much care about making a PR.
  5. I don’t really like the National Harbor area and I had a feeling it was going to be a mess.

Really, the only thing the race had going for it was the swag (a pretty nice jacket) and the potential for chocolate at the end.

So I decided not to go, and felt very good about that as I snuggled in my nice warm bed until scandalously late in the morning. It was very nice, very indulgent, and every bit as good as chocolate would have been.

I felt even more relieved that I didn’t run the race as reports of delays, traffic accidents, and terrible routing came in on Twitter. Today, I got an email from RAM Racing, the company that organized the race, apologizing and explaining what went wrong. Which was nice of them, but…man. I am really glad I didn’t go! What a mess. It probably would have just pissed me off and made me miserable.

As it is, my legs are ready to go for a great week of running!




  1. I considered running, too, but the pricetag was amazingly high. And who wants to run at National Harbor anyway? I know people who ran it, and they said it was hilariously bad.

  2. Yeah, I should have seen the price as a warning sign, but it sounded great! Oh well. Lesson learned: Research the for-profit companies, be wary races expanding to new cities, and never, ever sign up for anything at the National Harbor.

    1. I had a hard time because I DID pay for it, but, well, I got my spiffy jacket, so I feel like it wasn’t a total loss.

      I will say reading people’s race recaps was really fun for me! There are some pretty funny ones out there, including yours. (The PICTURES!)

    1. I did! It’s crazy how mad people were, but it WAS really cold, and with people going the wrong way, dangerous.