The ING Hartford Marathon: Tread Lightly for 26.2 Miles
Now in its 17th year, the ING Hartford Marathon has continued to grow bigger and better, while still managing to shrink its carbon footprint. You are going to run a marathon or half marathon, so do something good for yourself and for the environment—run this race!
Posted Sunday, 3 October, 2010
Hartford is the place to be on October 9th, no matter what type of event you are looking for and no matter what your preferred distance or pace. And significantly, innovative ideas on food and amenities at the ING Hartford Marathon and associated races have made it easier than ever to be green. In fact, the Race Director and Race Committee have gone out of their way in recent years to reduce, reuse and recycle everything--on the course and off.
The 17th annual ING Hartford Marathon is perfectly in a great location and perfectly positioned on the calendar. Just two hours southwest of Boston and two hours northeast of New York City by car puts you in the heart of historic downtown Hartford. And the event’s date—Saturday, October 9th at 8:00 a.m.—puts it smack-dab in the middle of Southern New England’s prime leaf-peeping season. Come experience the excitement of a city marathon with the feel of being in the country as you run along the Connecticut River; past historic homes; under blazing orange, red and yellow foliage, and across the finish line of one of the greenest races in the country. Don’t hesitate—sign up now at www.hartfordmarathon.com.
Start and Finish in an Oasis
This fast and flat marathon course starts at 8:00 a.m. adjacent to Bushnell Park—downtown Hartford’s expansive and energetic natural space that’s rich in greenery and features a carousel, a performance pavilion, and various statues and fountains. It is the expansive “front lawn” of the beautiful state capitol. There’s no better place in the city or the region to stretch out the legs and calm the nerves before lining up for your big race.
Once the gun goes off, runners make their way around Pulaski Circle, away from the park and onto the Founders Bridge to cross the Connecticut River, New England’s largest, which is simply gorgeous in early October. This bridge with its magnificent stone work offers wide pedestrian sidewalks and expansive views of the city in all directions, as well as seven lanes for auto traffic.
Once you’re across the Connecticut River, you have the opportunity to really crank up as you wind around downtown streets in East Hartford, head onto Main Street and then cross over into South Windsor for a long out-and-back stretch—a lovely, peaceful, historic stretch. Hit the turnaround point at mile 11.1 and start heading back into East Hartford on Main Street. The layout of this marathon course will make the miles seem to fly by as you watch runners heading back or going out, depending on which mile you’re running.
If you’re a runner who always has her headphones on and likes to cruise along to your favorite tunes, you might want to reconsider for this race. The marathon course is packed with live music and entertainment to keep your mind occupied and your feet grooving along mile by mile.
Turn right at mile 19 onto East River Drive and then left into the boat launch at Great River Park. Enjoy waterfront views along the river path for a mile before crossing back over the Founders Bridge and making your way back to Bushnell Park for a spectacular finish under Hartford’s famous Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch.
And this isn’t your run-of-the-mill finish line. Hartford’s finish has received accolades for being one of the most beautiful. While most marathons fence in runners with bright orange plastic or wire barricade fencing, Hartford softens and beautifies the roadsides with rows of 500 mums. If you’ve ever coveted a finish line photo, this is the one. Imagine your picture when you cross the line—arms raised in celebration and surrounded by hundreds of brightly colored mums.
Once you cross that line and sling that commemorative finisher’s medal around your neck, head over to the bountiful post-race buffet—simply one of the best anywhere, delicious and green. Relax and listen to music while you nosh on some locally grown, fresh and organic salad, homemade macaroni and cheese, bread, yogurt, desserts and refreshments. This spread of wholesome food is truly where the farm stand meets the finish line, an experience in itself.
This well-staffed marathon course features water stops stocked with Vital H2O and Gatorade at just about every mile, starting with mile 2.5. A detailed map of the USATF-certified course is available online at www.hartfordmarathon.com. The marathon is limited to 3,000 runners and has a six-hour time limit.
Greener By The Mile
Road races can sometimes get a bad rap for being wasteful and not treading lightly on the environment. Empty plastic cups, energy gel packets and water bottles seem to have become necessary evils at most long-distance races. But that’s not the case at the ING Hartford Marathon and related races.
About five years ago race founder and Hartford Marathon Foundation Executive Director Beth Shluger decided to increase the green factor of the ING Hartford Marathon and related events. She decided to prove that road racing could be environmentally friendly and socially responsible. And the Hartford Marathon Foundation is now a national leader. The Council for Responsible Sport (CRS) selected the race as one of five in the country to take part in a pilot program to establish a process for sustainable certification for similar events. As such, the ING Hartford Marathon received Gold certification from the CRS for its green efforts. And Shluger proves that the CRS certification isn’t just a piece of paper—it’s this race’s way of life.
Reusable drawstring canvas goodie bags take the place of plastic race bags; technical race t-shirts are made of 100% sustainable bamboo materials; and a commemorative refillable water bottle lets you rehydrate without leaving anything behind.
The green initiative even brought about some innovation. Engineers at cosponsor United Technologies Corporation designed and built the UTC water bubbler—a 2,000-gallon water fountain flowing with Vital Water. The bubbler can quench the thirst of 40 runners simultaneously—eliminating the use of 10,000 plastic water bottles. The ING Hartford Marathon will also be carbon-neutral in 2010; and race organizers encourage participants to make every effort to reduce their own carbon footprint.
How many pairs of sneakers do you burn through while logging miles training for the big day? The ING Hartford Marathon has notified Connecticut recycling locations that runners will be donating used sneakers throughout the month of October. The Connecticut Recyclers Coalition, in conjunction with Nike, wants to make sure those shoes continue on a good path. Recycled sneakers, called NIKE GRIND, will be turned into sports surfaces, running tracks and playgrounds. For more information on this program in Connecticut, visit http://www.ctrecyclers.org/sneakermt.html. To locate a facility in other states, visit www.nikereuseashoe.com.
Multiple Events to Choose From
October 9th isn’t just marathon Saturday in Hartford. You can also choose to run the marathon as part of a relay team, run the half marathon solo, or blaze the 5K path. All races start at 8:00 a.m. And check out the opportunities for kids’ races.
If you’re thinking about covering the 26.2 miles with some friends—now is the time to get a team together. Relay teams consist of two to five runners with legs ranging in distance from 3 miles to 7.5 miles. Transportation is provided to the start/finish line and relay points.
Half marathon runners follow blue course markings and split from the marathon—heading back to Hartford from mile 3. Those running the 13.1 also get to soak up views of the water along riverfront trail and enjoy the lively, revitalized Park Street neighborhood before finishing at Bushnell Park. The 5K starts at Trinity Street and Capitol Avenue, and then follows the same course as the final miles of the marathon. Visit the website for details on all the races.
Everything is Right There
Running a marathon or half marathon is stressful enough. You don’t want anxieties to build days beforehand just trying to get to the expo during the limited packet pick-up times. Don’t worry; the ING Hartford Marathon makes it easy to meet all your race prerequisites at its top-notch health and fitness expo.
The free two-day health and fitness expo will be held at the centrally located XL Center on Thursday, October 7th and Friday, October 8th from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. both days. Not only is this the location to pick up your race number and sustainable goodie bag, but it’s also the place to be for the latest on sports and fitness products, health screenings, running shoes, exercise equipment, nutritional products and freebies.
Running for the Right Reason
Do your running shoes need a little bit of color? Share your love of an active lifestyle with a child and get your orange laces today! ING Hartford Marathon race organizers want to pass the torch of physical activity and get kids on the right track in health and fitness.
By donating just $10 to ING Run for Something Better, you’ll be helping ING provide youth running and school-based fitness education programs for kids in Connecticut—you’ll receive a pair of bright orange shoelaces as a symbol of support. And this is just one of many charitable organizations supported by ING Hartford Marathon.
ING Hartford Marathon’s Run for a Cause makes every step toward your goal race—marathon, half marathon or 5K—count even more for a non-profit organization. Run or walk one of these events on behalf of one of the Hartford Marathon Foundation Official Charities. Reach your personal goal while making huge strides to help an organization whose only goal is to help others. Visit the Charities section of the race website for more information on official charities, and join the ranks of hundreds of others who are running for a cause.
Your Race—Make it Happen
Whether you’re looking to qualify for Boston or running your first marathon, the ING Hartford Marathon can help make it all worthwhile with a wonderful race experience. The flat course makes it easier to clinch that BQ time; crowd support and entertainment will motivate you along the way; moderate weather with average temps in the low 60s will keep you feeling cool and comfortable; and expert pace teams can help keep you on track to meet your goal. Experience Hartford, and be part of a great and green event that you will savor long after the finish. In fact, you may measure all future events by comparison with this one. It is that good.