It seems fitting that RAM Racing road races held on Easter weekend are steeped in chocolate. The Hot Chocolate 15K/5K races hit the streets of Minneapolis Saturday morning. Their pitch to the participants is swag, free photos, certified courses, post race party, and, of course plenty of chocolate.
The Minneapolis race is part of a nationwide series of Hot Chocolate events that have attracted attention from runners and those in the road racing industry. The runners come expecting a good time, mechandise, such as the specially embroidered hoodie, and the chocolate. Steve Ginsburg, who got his start in the corporate world sourcing products and investment banking, named his company--Running Away Multisport--as a declaration of sorts.
A cyclist, named RAM because he and his partner were both "running away" from Wall Street to putting on events on the streets. The races were not the first thing they did. They opened a running specialty store in Bucktown in Chicago and took over the Bucktown 5K as a promotional tool to increase the traffic for the store.
Ginsburg says that the company still puts on the Bucktown 5K, but the Hot Chocolate race series that followed that dip into road racing has proved to be more popular than selling shoes, clothing, etc. In a relatively short period of time the Hot Chocolate races have grown from a modest entry of runners to five figure fields in many locations.
While the road running event numbers have taken a downturn of late in the road racing industry, Hot Chocolate races have grown steadily. Ginsburg has been doing another circuit of late going to running industry meetings and spreading the word of his philosophy behind the success of the Hot Chocolate race series.
He's a critic of what he calls the Mob races. Races that coat the participants with "colors," or have the participants run through mud pits. Ginsburg's message to the road running industry is that these "fad" events that have perhaps taken participants from established road races are waning. That the drop in entries to the legacy events will reverse once the road running industry pays attention to what they do best. "Put the fun back into fun running," is the slogan Ginsburg uses.
In corporate/business terms it comes down to knowing your customers. Providing what they want. Allowing the participants to go away happy, not merely coated with mud or multi colors. Registration info for this Saturday's race can be found HERE. Entries for the races close at Midnight tonight.