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 hartfordmarathon.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.