14th Annual United Technologies Greater Hartford Marathon
“Course Changes and ‘Green’ Philosophy make it even Greater!” - October 13, 2007
Posted Sunday, 15 April, 2007
GREATER HARTFORD, a winning formula for all and clearly “greater”! This marathon has multi-faceted components guaranteed to give you and everyone with you something back. Scheduled at the height of fall foliage, it offers multiple events, historic and archaeological wonders, grand scenery, and philanthropic causes. It is environmentally conscious, and a Boston qualifier to boot! In addition, course changes offer every runner an opportunity to set a new personal record.
So what are the options?
Let’s start with five different running events. The marathon, half marathon, team relay, and 5K start at 8:00 a.m., with a Kids K at 9:30 a.m. Typically about 7,000 runners from 50 states and 14 countries participate. The marathon draws an elite field as well as recreational runners and those out to qualify for the Boston Marathon. Runners are generally successful at qualifying for Boston on this course, and should do even better with the course revisions. The courses are certified and each is chip timed. Average temperatures range from a high of 64 degrees to a low of 40 degrees, perfect for that wished-for personal record.
The marathon course records are held by Moses Kemboi from Kenya, who ran 2:16:34 in 2005, and Russian master Ramilia Burangulova with 2:33:23 in 2003. Both records are within reach, particularly on the new course which removes some of the rolling hills in the final miles. The cash purse goes five deep with $6,000 for the winner and an additional $1,000 for a course record.
Always an international field. Last year’s marathon was won by Mykolai Rudyk of the Ukraine in a time of 2:18:39 followed by a runner from Kenya in second place and an Ethiopian in third. Anastasiya Padalinskaya of Belarus won the women’s marathon in 2:38:46 with another woman from Belarus in second place and a woman from Russia placing third. Michael Green of Atlanta, Georgia won the half marathon in 1:05:25 with an Ethiopian in second and Joshua Kemie from Torrington, Connecticut placing third. In the women’s half marathon it was Heather Webster of Honeoye Falls, New York winning in 1:19:52, followed by Athena Countouriotis of Hartford and Maureen Burns of Hampden, Massachusetts.
The closest race of the day was the men’s 5K with Sean Connolly of Ireland taking the win in 15:04, Mark Miller of Keene, New Hampshire just two seconds back in 15:06, and third place going to Adam Ambrus of New Jersey in 15:09. There was no contest in the women’s 5K as Tatyana Pozdnyakova of the Ukraine took it in 18:07, with the second runner back in 18:31 and third place in 20:44.
What’s the course like?
According to Coach and Ironman triathlete Chris Ramsey from West Concord, Massachusetts, an official pacer in 2005, the layout of the course is conducive to the approximately 30,000 spectators who can watch the field navigate near the same spot three times, see how the competition is developing, and cheer on their family or friends. The old course was generally rolling the entire way with nothing big at any point. Chris described it as “essentially two out-and-back sections - a 20 mile and a 6 miler ‘T’.” The surface is asphalt pavement, road and bike path. Previously the final 10K included many “rollers” which, according to Chris, kept it interesting. But now, the final miles of the revised course feature the very scenic and flat new riverfront trail which runs along the Connecticut River. The rolling hills of the last 10K are gone, replaced with this 10' to 14' wide paved river path. The course has plenty of new views. This year’s mantra is “Take Me to the River” for those who like to talk in their heads.
Betty Rose from hilly Vermont found the old course relatively flat, thus making the new course a comparative pancake. She loved the finish line under the famous memorial arch, as well as the entertainment along the route. Vermonter Sandy Colvin also called it flat and loves the course because it’s accessible and not crowded. She uses it to qualify for Boston. For Sandy, the benefits of being able to room within walking distance of the start, and the entertainment for her family while she runs are big pluses.
This event was honored as “Race of the Year” in 2004 by New England Runner. As NER highlighted, the course takes quaint country roads, passes 19th century homes, pumpkin farms, and gardens galore. As one of only two marathons in the State of Connecticut, it exposes you to local architecture and historic landmarks including the Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum, the Old State House where the U.S. Constitution was written, and the Wood Memorial Library. Revolutionary War buffs will love running down old Main Street in South Windsor, traveled by the likes of George Washington, John Adams, and General Lafayette. The revised course on the new riverfront trail along the Connecticut River is quintessential New England. The half marathon no longer runs through the industrial park, and the 5K now takes runners through a festive Hispanic Ethnic neighborhood.
What’s there other than running?
There will be two hours of live television broadcasting with race highlights. Pre-race you’ll find an expo, a pasta feed and an elite athlete conference. During the event you’ll find entertainment at approximately 20 different locations along the course, including rock and roll, African drummers, reggae, Celtic music, bagpipes and country and western - something for everyone’s taste! Spectators have easy access to the course. Post-race festivities and food are held in Bushnell Park near the start and finish lines. It claims to be one of the best post-race parties in North America, and the only marathon known to serve 100% organic foods.
Your entry fee gives you a shirt when you register and a medal at the finish. Other amenities for the runners include some of the best shower facilities available and post-race massages. There is also conscientious attention to the safety of runners. The course is monitored by over 200 police and medical personnel with plenty of fencing and signage, and space blankets at the finish line. The marathon cutoff is six hours. There is consensus that this event is well organized and managed, with a friendly attitude. Even the runners who experienced pouring rain in 2005 and resulting slower times came away content and satisfied with the experience.
What about the philanthropic mission?
This event raises approximately $300,000 for local and national charities. The mission of the Hartford Marathon Foundation, Inc. The HMF mission is to “create and manage fitness events to benefit the Greater Hartford community.” Race organizers have set a goal of $500,000 for 2007. The event offers perks to charity runners who have their own mission, and to those who support local charities, including entry into “charity village.” This year HMF supports five official charities: Jeff’s Running Partners, Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, The Hartford Hospital, Mercy Housing & Shelter, and Juvenile Diabetes of Connecticut. Go to the website to find out more about each of these and how to contribute.
What about the “Green”?
The Hartford Marathon is eco-friendly. According to Race Director Beth Shluger, they are striving to become the “Healthiest Marathon on the Planet.” In addition to serving organic foods, the event’s products are primarily locally produced and environmentally friendly. They use a Fuel Cell bus for elite transportation and relay shuttles, a UTC Power Fuel Cell car for the lead vehicle, renewable energy credits, and reusable water bottles at the finish. They request green power for the expo location at Hartford Civic Center, are bringing Micro turban power into Bushnell Park, feature Green exhibitors in the “Health & Fitness Expo,” and work closely with the Department of Environmental Protection on projects. During marathon week, Hartford’s City Council hosts a Green City conference.
How do I find out more and sign up?