Where: Old Salem Greens, Salem MA
Managed by: B&S Event Management
Professionally timed by: Racewire
Proceeds to benefit: A portion of the proceeds donated to the Salem Recreation Department
I have a bit if a love/hate relationship with novelty races. On the one hand they are fun and different. On the other they tend to be costly and not well organized. My general rule of thumb is I’ll do them if they are on a coupon site and I have friends joining me. The Nutty Irish Cocoa Run fell into these categories for me. A few of my favorite run buddies were interested and it was on livingsocial. Also I was hooked by the promise of keepsake cocoa mugs, hot chocolate, and nips at the end. What I did not realize till about 2 weeks prior, when a friend mentioned it, was it’s a cross country race. This fact is stated on their website but I missed it. I also hadn’t anticipated the insane amount of snow we were still having in March. A few weeks before the race we began to get emails from the organizers recommending snowshoes, and at this point I began to consider backing out. But I had said I would go with my friends, and run with my friend’s daughter. So I decided to stick it out. I packed my (never worn) snowshoes, and also my yak trax, which I wore most of the winter and hoped to be able to get away with. And when I saw the forecast of snow I tried not to cry. In the end it was a fun day and I was very glad I didn’t chicken out.
As novelty races go I would say this was one of the better organized ones I’ve participated in. We did receive multiple emails on the weeks prior to the race, informing us of details. The parking situation was unfortunate, mainly because of how yucky the weather was that morning. Fortunately I had carpooled with friends who have 4 wheel drive. So we were permitted to use the smaller, higher up lot, not too far from the clubhouse. But most people had quite a hike. Once we made it to the clubhouse the bib pick up was quick and well run. We were able to use indoor bathrooms and congregate inside. It was cramped but there were also snacks and coffee and people were friendly.
Pre registered runners got a pair of texting gloves. Those who chose to pay a little extra (I did) got a keepsake mug.
The course was indeed cross country, at a golf course. There were two loops and because of the snow we were informed people could opt to do just one loop. Anyone who chose the one loop option was not allowed to cross the finish line though. I saw a pretty even mix of snow shoes and yak trax. Ultimately my friends and I opted for the trax. The course was clearly marked with plenty of volunteers directing us and a water stop halfway through. The course was beautiful but treacherous. Fairly hilly and the snow not nearly so well packed as one would like. I definitely was concerned about injury. And from what I saw the snowshoers struggled a bit more than those of us in trax, in terms of stumbling. I was impressed though how many of them were running!
I ran the first loop with my friend’s daughter Laura, who is 11. She did great but by the time we got to the end of the first loop and drinking our water she decided she was done. A volunteer told her where to go and after I congratulated her on doing a great job she met up with her parents. I chose to keep going. For the most part I really enjoyed myself. It felt a bit like an obstacle run. But I find obstacle runs to be really fun. I did worry about getting hurt but I also enjoyed the challenge. My favorite moment was nearing the end of the second loop and a volunteer calling out to me, “There’s my kilt girl! I knew you’d be back!” He was the same volunteer who after the end of the first loop started yelling at us all to speed up and do negative splits. I love people like that, and I’ll admit I tried. I can definitely say that out of the group I was with I was the only one to truly enjoy the course and have fun with it. I even got a kick out of the fact it was snowing, once I got going. Maybe I’m just crazy like that.
One thing to note though is all of our gps’s marked the course as quite a bit under a 5k. I never received an email of my results and couldn’t find them on racewire, though I saw my friends there. I believe I did it in around 35 minutes. Also our race pictures were adorable but not free.
The After Party:
The after party took place on the deck and inside the clubhouse. There was a DJ and the promised hot cocoa with nips. There was also delicious soda bread, fruit, and wine/hard cider for sale. Each runner got two cups of cocoa with the fixings – whipped cream, chocolate shavings etc. There were several flavors to choose from (I went with peppermint) and then runners over 21 could go to the bar and choose a shot of Bailey’s or other alcoholic options. There was a very long line we had to stand in to get our cocoa though, which we were all pretty unthrilled with. We stuck around maybe a half hour, long enough to get our money’s worth, before heading out to get lunch at a restaurant.
To summarize I would say it was a fun event, glad I went. Not necessarily dying to do it again but wouldn’t be adamantly opposed either. I would recommend it to anyone who is up for a bit of a crazy race and likes spiked hot chocolate. I would also recommend looking for it on a coupon site and paying for the mug ahead of time, because everyone who didn’t seemed a bit bummed.
Local coupon websites on which I have found novelty race discounts, as well as fitness class/gym membership discounts, and discounts on sporting gear: