The 18th Annual ING Hartford Marathon: Keeping it Great, Gratifying, and Green
The ING Hartford Marathon weekend is a grand slam of events that is sure to please. This is a national class event with local appeal; top grade race management and welcoming grace with the grandeur of a beautiful city.
Posted Friday, 30 September, 2011
Tighten up your laces and get ready to run one of the greenest and best races in the country. The ING Hartford Marathon, Half Marathon, Relay and 5K on Saturday, October 15th, is a fast, flat and environmentally friendly event that promises to make you feel good in so many ways.
The 18th annual ING Hartford Marathon, Marathon Team Relay, Half Marathon and 5K is the perfect package, giving you four ways to be part of one of New England’s finest running events; and one making big waves across the country. Starting at 8:00 a.m. from Hartford’s downtown Bushnell Park, there’s truly something for everyone. Run it once and it will quickly become obvious that the Hartford Marathon race committee—given high marks from Running USA, Road Race Management, and the Council for Responsible Sport--goes out of its way to consistently put on well-organized, green and locally focused races year after year.
Four Ways to Take in Hartford
The 2011 ING Hartford Marathon will follow the same great course as last year—with runners starting off on the road adjacent to Bushnell Park—right in front of the state capitol at 8:00 a.m. Race directors have added more starting corrals to give every runner some additional space for those first few jittery miles.
Once the gun goes off, racers head away from the park and onto the Founders Bridge to cross the Connecticut River, New England’s largest, which flows through New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut and finally into the Long Island Sound. Founders Bridge is something of a marvel right off the bat. Originally built in 1957, it was reconstructed in 1999 as a centerpiece in the city’s Riverfront Recapture project. The bridge now reconnects the city with the riverfront and offers runners panoramic views of Hartford, and the course crosses it twice.
Once you’re across the bridge, find your pace 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. Soak in the foliage and autumnal colors along the way—vibrant reds, blazing oranges and crisp yellows, and always gorgeous—before turning around at mile 11 to head back to East Hartford.
If you didn’t get to soak in enough foliage in the first 18 miles, the last eight miles will fill in the gaps. At mile 19, you turn onto East River Drive and past Great River Park, which features a combination of foliage and waterfront views. Another pass over the Founders Bridge and you start making your way back to Bushnell Park to finish under Hartford’s famous Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Memorial Arch. There’s a slight uphill just before the finish, but the cheering crowds and adrenaline are sure to help all push through it. The marathon is limited to 3,000 runners and has a six-hour time limit—it will sell out so do not delay in signing up.
The finish line at the ING Hartford Marathon isn’t just a line and a sign—it is much, much more. Surprise, the race has received praise for having one of the most beautiful finish lines of any marathon. Hartford softens and beautifies the sides along the last stretches and finish chutes with rows of 500 mums, bringing the autumnal feel full circle. If you’ve ever coveted a finish line photo, this is the one! It is really, beautifully unique. Imagine your picture when you cross the line—arms raised in celebration and surrounded by hundreds of brightly colored mums. Be sure to get your finisher’s medal once you cross the line. Marathon and Beyond voted the ING Hartford Marathon medal as one of the 10 best. Register today at www.inghartfordmarathon.com.
If you don’t want to run the full 26.2, you won’t be left out. You can choose to run the marathon course as part of a five-person relay team; or you can run the half marathon solo; or tackle the 5K race. Relay team distances range from 3 miles to 7.5 miles and transportation is provided to and from all relay points. In addition, the kids won’t be left out as there are events and activities for them too.
To make the starts efficient, half marathon runners start with the full marathon runners and relay participants, but break off at mile 1 and head south to tour quiet neighborhoods of Hartford and West Hartford. Runners also experience Hartford’s famous Elizabeth Park, a large open space that wealthy industrialist Charles M. Pond willed to the city in memory of his wife Elizabeth. Pond requested that the space be transformed into a horticultural park. Today, the 102-acre park features rose gardens, walking paths, greenhouses as well as picnic and recreation areas—part of the unique cultural and historical legacy of Hartford.
The 5K starts at Trinity Street and Capitol Avenue, and then follows the same course as the final miles of the marathon. Both the marathon and half-marathon courses include well-manned water stops and aid stations packed with water and Gatorade and gels. Visit www.inghartfordmarathon.com for details on all races, including course descriptions and spectator suggestions.
Celebrating Locally Grown Athletes
New England has long been a hotbed of road running talent, and the Hartford Marathon Foundation (which manages over 30 events in the region) recognizes and celebrates that fact again this year. Talented runners from New England or New York can apply to the “New England’s Finest (NEF)” program, which gives local elite runners and their guests star treatment on race weekend. In collaboration with New England Runner, the program includes complementary race entry for a runner and one traveling companion, hotel accommodations for two nights, New England’s finest technical apparel, featured bio and photo in a special supplement in New England Runner Magazine’s September 2011 issue, and much more. Runners who have lived in the New England area or New York for at least six months can apply through the marathon Website.
ING Run for Something Better
Are you ready to run to inspire a new generation of runners? The ING Hartford Marathon gives you a unique opportunity to be an advocate for physical fitness while doing something you love—and you can even stand out in the crowds.
Join the race against childhood obesity by donating at least $10 to the Run for Something Better program and receive a pair of bright orange shoelaces as a symbol of support for youth running and fitness. Your contribution will also help youth and school-based fitness education programs throughout Connecticut.
Running for something better is easy! Simply make your donation of $10 or more when you register for your event. You’ll receive your orange laces at packet pickup. You can also make a donation at the expo and still receive your laces on the spot. Make a fashion statement and a visible commitment that shows you support the Run for Something Better program.
It’s So Easy Being Green
As runners, we all try to do our part to preserve the beauty and purity that surrounds us on those daily runs—whether we hit the city streets, rural roads, or way out trails. All too often though, thoughts of “One more mile” or “Just keep going” drown out the more important mantras: “Tread lightly, leave nothing behind, do good.” About six years ago, race founder and Hartford Marathon Foundation (HMF) Executive Director Beth Shluger took this into account—vowing to broaden the green factor of the ING Hartford Marathon and related events. And did she ever! The ING Hartford Marathon is recognized as one of the greenest major events in the country. The time has come to prove that road racing, particularly long-distance events, can be environmentally friendly, socially responsible and also first class. They do.
The ING Hartford Marathon does away with plastic cups and bottles—opting instead to use a water bubbler that was designed and built by engineers at United Technologies and powered by Vital Water. Since its first use at the race, the bubbler has saved more than 20,000 plastic bottles from entering the local landfill. The HMF also supplies racers with reusable drawstring canvas goodie bags that take the place of plastic race bags; they employ a paper-free registration process; provide technical race t-shirts that are made of 100% sustainable bamboo materials; and give out a commemorative refillable water bottle so runners can rehydrate without leaving anything behind.
ING Hartford: Nature at Its Best
Race weekend can be hectic and a little nerve wracking. Runners usually are worried about proper hydration, getting in the right nutrition, and resting their legs. Spectators, in addition to worrying about their runners, want to be sure they get the best cheering spot on the course. The ING Hartford Marathon takes the anxiety out of the pre-race routine. Downtown Hartford is easy to reach from all points and the health and fitness expo is centrally located at XL Center in downtown Hartford.
Their free two-day Healthy Lifestyles Expo will be held on Thursday, October 13th and Friday, October 14th 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 sample freebies.
Whether you’re looking to qualify for Boston or running your first marathon to finish, the ING Hartford Marathon can help make it all worthwhile with a wonderful race experience. These folks really do know what they are doing. The relatively flat course makes it easier to clinch that BQ time, and the lively crowd support and entertainment will motivate you along the way. And with four races to choose from, plus a Kid’s Run, there’s truly something for the entire family. Come experience the excitement of a city marathon with the beauty and quiet nature of the country too as you run along the Connecticut River, past historic homes, under beautiful fall foliage, and across the beautiful floral finish line of one of the greenest races in the country. Don’t hesitate—sign up now at www.inghartfordmarathon.com