Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Professor Celebrates Retirement with Fundraising Run


We are overwhelmed with gratitude!  Thanks to your generous donations, the UConn Health Half Marathon, 10K and 5K generated $33,115 to support our local healthcare heroes.  The donation to the UConn Health COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund supports continued efforts to provide medical equipment and needed supplies.

A portion of each of the 1,272 participant registrations was donated to the fund, and many individuals made additional donations or bypassed their shirt and medal swag to double their donation.  In addition, many participants rallied fundraising efforts from their friends and family.

The single largest fundraiser, who raised nearly $3,000, took the opportunity to mark his retirement from the University of Connecticut by participating in the UConn Health Half Marathon to support the cause.  Meet Professor Hedley Freake.

Meet Professor Hedley Freake
For 32 years, Professor Hedley Freake has been a valued member of the University of Connecticut Department of Nutritional Sciences. The scientist and Fulbright Scholar recently spoke by video at the commencement ceremony for the College of Agriculture, Health and Natural Resources after a long career of student-focused teaching.  Professor Freake has also worked toward improving general education programs and served multiple terms on the University Senate.

I have enjoyed thinking about the big picture and how we make a better institution.  I thought about diversity, equity and inclusion and was spending time to advance programs in those areas. 

As his retirement approached and the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way that the end of his tenure could be celebrated, Professor Freake saw information on the UConn Health Half Marathon that piqued his interest.


People want to do things in conjunction with the pandemic and Black Lives Matter.  We're all thinking about the important issues and what kind of society we want to be living in and there are events (like the race) that can bring people together for the common good.

The marathoner waited 30 years between his first 26.2 at the London Marathon at the age of 30 (which he ran i
n an impressive 3 hours and 9 minutes) and his next at the Hartford Marathon.  Professor Freake met his wife, Elizabeth Huebner, in London. In 1983, they moved to her hometown of Minneapolis before settling in Connecticut five years later when Hedley joined the faculty of the University of Connecticut. 

As a child I wasn’t an athlete of any kind. I grew up in London, liked to play football and cricket, but wasn’t really an athlete at all.  As I was approaching my 30th birthday in 1981, there was an article in the Sunday Times of London about how to train for a marathon in 26 weeks, couch potato to marathon runner. 

Coming up on his 60th birthday, Professor Freake's family thought it was time for him to do another marathon, which he obliged on the agreement that his sons would run the race in Hartford too.  With a little help and coaching, he learned about smart ways to approach running a marathon at 60 years old.

The Hartford Marathon Foundation's signature event spurred a renewed interest in marathons and he also began running with his three sons, Duncan, Matthew and Jacob. His Hartford Marathon in 2011 qualified Professor Freake for the Boston Marathon, which he ran in 2013.  He finished shortly before the bombings that rocked the running world and the city of Boston. He decided to run it again in 2016 after qualifying when running the Philadelphia Marathon with his son, Matthew.

He's trained for other races and encountered some common injuries that have hindered marathon pla
ns. At age 69, he feels running a half marathon is straightforward and enjoyable.

Running is for pleasure, I never worried too much about racing.  When doing races of that distance the achievement is to go out there and get a process going, get into a rhythm and pace where your body feels good.

Professor Freake had never run the UConn Health Half Marathon but felt it was a good way to mark the end of this era and raise a little money for the pandemic response. 

We couldn’t agree more.  Thank you, Hedley, for your selfless efforts and congrats on a great race! 

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