The ING Hartford Marathon: Tread Lightly for 26.2 Miles

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.

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