Friday, March 17, 2017

Run Middletown! Free group runs & course preview guest post

You likely heard we’ve changed up the Harvard Pilgrim Middletown Half course.  If you haven’t viewed the aerial mile-by-mile video, check it out here. We’re also giving you two opportunities to check it out with free group runs led by Team HMF coaches!   Preview the course on Saturday, March 25 (8:00 am) in a 10-mile run, or Thursday, March 30 (5:30 pm) in a 6-mile run. Sign up here for details.

We think you’re going to welcome the course changes but don’t just take our word for it – we also have a Middletown resident runner to offer expert opinion!  

Salena Chatman is a new member of Team HMF and prolific local runner who recently hit her 100th town on her quest to reach Run 169 status.  She ran the half course start to finish a couple weeks ago and offers her own insights and (unfiltered!) opinions below. 

Salena Chatman
First, I have to say....The new course is great! It's not as hilly - that's a huge plus! Ok, ok that's not the only reason though…

If you disliked the uphill Court Street start as much as I did, I'm happy to report it's GONE! Want more good news?? It's still there for the downhill can that get better?? Remove an uphill and still get the downhill?? Win, win! 

Another hill that I won't miss is Church Street, on the previous course it was around mile 1-1.5.  You still get to see the main campus of Wesleyan University though, which is a plus.  Even better than the uphill being gone is that you get it as a downhill.  Seriously, two of the worst hills gone and that's before mile 5 - I know I'm happy about it. You'll also get to see various sections of the Wesleyan campus on the half course. 

Since, I'm already talking about hills being gone let's just stay on that topic...did you HATE the long hill on Randolph?  Going by the cows was nice but I know I will NOT miss that.  It's not completely gone, but what's left is the crest of the hill - short and steep and over before you know it.  Even better, you get to go down the hill and pass by Mercy High School.  Welcome to mile 7! 

Long Hill Road (7.5-8 miles)…the street name says all you need to know! One long hill but it's not crazy. 
Then on to Brush Hill (mile 9), it's not huge but you'll notice it. That's the last one in the back half that's worth a mention though - look over the horizon and see if Powder Ridge still has visible snow on its trails.

Time to head into the final stretch of the course. You'll find a gradual downhill on the course around 9.5 as you start to head back toward Wesleyan University.  The unpaved Laurel Grove section is back...I love this section, I find it very peaceful.  But, it's a short section of the course so if you hate the concept of a non-paved road don't fret, it's not long! Take it in, admire the historic homes on this section of road and if the trees haven't bloomed yet you can catch a glimpse of the Wadsworth Mansion on the right. 

Then on to the final few miles...Wadsworth Street has a small incline but the good news is you’re almost at mile 11. Turn left onto Long Lane, you'll know you’re there as you start to see Wesleyan's 4,000+ solar panels on the right. It's a pretty cool sight! 

Wind your way back to downtown. Remember that downhill I mentioned earlier on Court Street?  Enjoy it, you're almost done. A right on Main Street will showcase our amazing downtown area and maybe you'll see a local restaurant to eat at after you've enjoyed the post-race food. Keep your eyes peeled as you should see the finish line!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

I promise

I hate running.  Today.  You too? 

Today is a day to hunker down, settle in and watch the snow fall.  But we’re runners, we have race goals and training mile obligations.

If you’re training for Boston, you should be doing an 18-20 miler this week.  When I was training for Boston, my 20-mile run was due in the middle of a blizzard, just like today.  Tough stuff.  I did it on a treadmill indoors.  It’s all about determination and commitment to the goal.

HMF started its 24th season last weekend with two back-to-back O’races.  It was brutally cold.  You probably thought our staff indulged in a few too many holiday cookies and put on 10 pounds of winter weight.  But no, that was layers of clothing we were wearing to work through the single digits.

Runners are hearty souls, as evident by the thousands who ran with us at O’Shenanigans and the Courthouse O’Putnam (and were exceptionally joyful, I might add).  While you all deserve high fives for running, we are truly inspired and amazed by the incredible volunteers who came to work and support you.  How can we ever thank them enough?

And guess what?  We all get to do it again this weekend!  O’Niantic and O’Hartford promise to test the staff, chill the runners and challenge the volunteers.  But hey – bring it on!  My 10 pounds of ski gear are cleaned and ready for another weekend.

I promise, sunny, warm days are ahead...don’t complain to me about the heat this summer.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Team HMF 2017

We know the running community is full of amazing and inspiring athletes, but you continue to wow us year after year!   

Thanks to everyone who took the time and effort to apply to Team HMF 2017, it was quite an incredible field.  We're excited to share the roster of team members.  Please join us in congratulating these athletes as they work to encourage and support local running and runners this year.

Team HMF 2017:

Aimee Bouchard, Springfield, MA
Salena Chatman, Middletown, CT
Amie Conner, Wethersfield, CT
Jeanne Corey, Winsted, CT
Hannah Hayes, Springfield, MA
Robyn Hollister, Glastonbury, CT
Katie Kowalski, Guilford, CT
Peter Lee, Avon, CT
Brad Magyar, Enfield, CT
Kim Marchand, Winsted, CT
Katie Martin, Middlebury, CT
Ryan Morgan, Wethersfield, CT
Tulsi Patel, Berlin/Storrs, CT
Carlos Quiles, New Britain, CT
Mayra Rivera, Hartford, CT
Mena Shehata, Rocky Hill, CT 
Tracey Sondik, Bolton, CT
Lisa Wawrzynowski, Newington, CT
Tom Zukowski, Enfield, CT
Elise Kennedy, Middletown, CT – HMF FitKids ambassador

Team HMF 2017 Co-Captains:

Marty Maldonado, Unionville, CT
Susan Rubenstein, Simsbury, CT
Chris Trotta, Longmeadow, MA

The new members will join a growing group of active Team HMF ambassadors in their involvement at HMF events and throughout the running community.  We thank them for their continued support:

Sarah Bourdeau, East Haven, CT
Marc Cerrone, Pomfret Center, CT 
Stacey Clark, East Berlin, CT 
John Coppola, Middletown, CT 
Alberto Cortes, West Hartford, CT 
Nichole Donzella, Windsor, CT 
Stephanie Gagliardi, East Hartford, CT 
Sue Hayes, Newington, CT 
Scott Hollister, Glastonbury, CT 
Wendy Ku, Farmington, CT 
Tony Labriola, Southbury, CT
Adam Lippencott, Hartford, CT 
Kimberly Markey, Kensington, CT 
Elizabeth Mashiak, Middletown, CT 
Kristina Miner, Newington, CT 
Katie Ouellette, Barkhamsted, CT 
Diane Perry, Bloomfield, CT 
Eric Pouliot, Fiskdale, MA 
Elanna Rubenstein, West Hartford, CT 
Kevin Vallez, Ellington, CT 
Jesse Wanzer, Glastonbury, CT

Thursday, February 16, 2017

O'Hartford Craft Brew Pub

Beer – so refreshing after a great run!  We’re kicking up our beer game at the O’Hartford this year with help from our friends at Small State Great Beer.

A new post-race experience, the O'Hartford Craft Brew Pub in Bushnell Park will feature four Connecticut breweries offering on-tap selections.  Huge IPA fan?  Love a dark beer?  You get to choose!  Each runner can select their free beer of choice included with registration, beer tickets also available for purchase on site by spectators/runners for $5 (21+ with ID only).

If you’re interested in a real taproom beer tasting experience, order a pass to the exclusive Flight Deck!  Choose four beers for sampling and take home the four commemorative 4 oz glasses and the custom-made beer paddle they’re served on.  The Flight Deck is a heated tent limited to 125 people only, order in advance to secure your spot, $20 each.

Learn more about the brews and breweries making the first-ever O'Hartford Craft Brew Pub a post-race experience not to miss:

O’Hartford 5K & Wee Mile is all about the Irish party: beer - see above!  Festive music. Great food - race participants get authentic, delicious Irish Beef & Guinness Stew with vegetarian/Gluten-free Potato & Cheddar Soup option.

Hungry spectators can also nosh in the park, a selection of food truck vendors will be on site, including Frankie’s (hot dogs, fries, onion rings) and more!

Race start is 12:30 pm for the kids and 1:00 p.m for the 5K.  We’ll open the Craft Brew Pub at noon for those who want to carbo-load before the race.  It stays open until 2:30 pm.

Bring a friend – they’ll thank you!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

O'Shenanigans in Southington kicks off O'race challenges

We’re excited for March – not only because it signals the end of winter but because HMF will be back in full swing with four O’races, including a brand new one in Southington! There are also two challenges to choose from that will up your ante on bringing the big bling home.  In 8 short weeks, we’ll be ready to make your winter training worth every see-your-breath, don’t-feel-your-toes-until-mile 2 moment.  

Lucky Challenge medal
The NEW O’Shenanigans race in Southington and Cheshire won’t disappoint.  A serene flat and fast 5K along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail and surrounding roads will be topped off with a brewery party at the hip new Kinsmen Brewing Company.  Celebrate your finish with handcrafted beer, munchies and a sparkly medal.

Each O’race will feature different swag, with event medals that will join together to form a glittery green three-or four-leaf clover if you join the Trinity or Lucky Challenges, respectively.  Just register for your choice of O’races by February 27 and we’ll reward you with the magic middle piece to connect your clover medals together (provided at the last of your 3 or 4 races in Niantic or Hartford).  If you take the 4-race Lucky Challenge, you’ll also earn a custom series pint glass, pick it up in Hartford after the race.

Note - register for each event individually. 
Earn your first O’race medal and a festive and versatile seamless bandana, great for a face-warmer, neck gaiter, headband or hoorag. Get in on the inaugural race from Southington through Cheshire with a kickin’ post-race party at the brand new Kinsmen Brewing Company with food by Sauced.

The beautiful northeast corner of the state is the backdrop for the 2nd race in the series.  Earn a newly designed, signature Irish O’beanie hat and your second chance at a sparkly medal.  Enjoy a mouth-watering corned beef sandwich on a pretzel roll from Courthouse Bar & Grille – washed down with an ice cold brew.

Head down to this quaint shoreline community for another flat and fast course.  You’ll earn a pair of screaming Irish green knit running gloves and the third opportunity for a clover medal.  Note, if O’Niantic is your third and final race of the Trinity series, you’ll pick up the middle piece for your clover after the race. 

With start and finish in Bushnell Park, the biggest O’race is better than ever.  We’re in the works on creating a craft beer event post-race party to cap off the St. Paddy’s Day race festivities.  Earn the last of the glittery green medals and custom knit running socks covered in green shamrocks.  Pick up the middle piece for your clover after the race along with the custom Lucky Challenge pint glass (for those that ran all four O’races only).


Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Need to know for HMF Challenges

We love to motivate our runners and sweetening the reward for reaching race goals.  With seven Challenges available in the 2017 schedule, we’re hoping everyone can find something that encourages them to further greatness.  
Check out the goods you’ll earn and please review details and requirements for each Challenge (subject to updates, so check back as those events get closer!).


You may participate in more than one HMF Challenge but you may NOT use one event for more than one Challenge (i.e. you can participate in Trinity Challenge and Half Marathon Fanatics, but you may not participate in Half Marathon Fanatics and Connecticut Double since both events end in the Eversource Hartford Half.

No event substitutions allowed. If you wish to participate in the Half Marathon Fanatics and upgrade to the Eversource Hartford Marathon in place of the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon, you may do so within registration.

Follow instruction on the Challenge page for registration requirements to guarantee your participation and swag. We cannot guarantee swag/rewards if you did not register properly.

If you participate in a Challenge event using a comp/free entry, please register and pay for the Challenge as directed and then contact with confirmed comp entry info to be refunded for the specified event.

If you participate in a Challenge event using a comp/free entry, you will be responsible to pay a portion of the swag fee (based on set criteria) i.e. pacers receiving free entry to Half Marathon Fanatics events are eligible to participate in the Challenge but will be charged a nominal fee to cover swag costs.

Medals/swag must be picked-up in the post-race area at the last event in the challenge (specified below).  If you do not pick up on race day, you may pick up in the HMF offices or you can opt to have it shipped for $8.  Please confirm pick up or shipping within 2 months.


O'race Trinity Challenge and Lucky Challenge 
An Irish-themed medal masterpiece, your 3 or 4 medals will link together to form the Challenge prize medal.  Plus, Lucky Challenge participants earn a custom pint glass to be picked up after O’Hartford on March 19. 

Half Marathon Fanatics – DEADLINE March 19 (or when a race sells out)
In addition to earning medals for each of the 4 half marathons and a series medal, Half Marathon Fanatics will also be rewarded with a high quality custom backpack for their running gear.  Medal and bag to be picked up in the Bling Ring after the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon on October 14.

Connecticut Double – DEADLINE April 30 (or when a race sells out)
You will be provided with a FREE training guide to help you train from the Mystic Half Marathon to complete 26.2 at the Eversource Hartford Marathon.  Participants earn medals and shirts for each event and a flashy series medal, to be picked up in the Bling Ring after the Eversource Hartford Marathon.

10K Challenge – DEADLINE May 3 (or when a race sells out)
After earning three unique medals in beautiful destinations around the state, participants will pick up their series medal in Old Wethersfield on August 27.

Progressive Challenge – DEADLINE June 14 (or when a race sells out)
Participants will get a FREE training plan to lead them from 5K to 10K to half marathon.  At the end of the quest, pick up a newly designed series medal in the Bling Ring at the Eversource Hartford Half Marathon on October 14.

Grand Slam Scramble Challenge – DEADLINE June 27
Add this newly designed huge series medal to your collection.  You’ll earn themed race swag at each event and then collect the big bling after the last Riverfront Scramble on August 24.

New England Double 
Register separately through each event page and add the option for the Double. Participants will pay a $20 series fee and earn a series medal and a high quality technical vest, to be picked up after the second race they complete.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Race planning for 2017

We are thrilled to open registration for the 2017 season with a brand new Web site and some twists to the race schedule.  Thanks for your patience and support as we worked on behind-the-scenes details (the many, many details!).

The site was a true labor of love, as everyone on staff poured over info on each area of expertise they manage.  While it’s a constant work in progress, it’s rewarding to share with you the progress that we’ve made.

We know there are a few questions still to be answered (like where the new O’Shenanigans race is going to be held!!).  We want to address why some details are still TBD and how the process works.  Promise we’re not trying to hold out to build suspense here…just like that fine wine (or maybe more like a stout beer, in this case), some things take a little more time.  

That really big detail we don’t skip to confirm a race date is the town permit, but just as important is the community support.  We want everyone to be on board when we bring a few hundred (or thousand) of our running buddies together for a group run and party. Businesses in the area, local churches, neighbors most significantly impacted, town officials, police and medical response crews – these folks are all crucial to welcoming you with open arms to take-over their roads.

We also have to make sure we have the staff resources and volunteers required; that the locations and distances offered across the full HMF schedule work together; that other events taking place are considered.   That’s just the top-tier check list to start working from, then we get into race swag, challenges and promotions and other considerations to help make the experience unique and interesting for participants.   

A new race takes special attention and we don’t want to release a date/location unless we are confident all of those factors line up to make it a go.  

So…where does that leave us with O’Shenanigans and the TBD new 5K on the calendar in June?  We really want to make them happen, things are looking really good – but we don’t want to jinx ourselves.  We may have Irish luck on our side, but until we get everything else on our side, we’ll have to leave you in suspense a little longer.

And, hang on to your hats for this one…we’re in talks for a new half marathon late in the fall too.  It’s a totally new great place to run with us.   We promise you’ll be the first to know when it’s ready to go!